Gamblin 1980 Oil Paints$12.00
- Pigments are vibrant and have great depth compared to other student grade paints
- Looks great on paper (arguably the most important thing)
- Lots of useful color varieties beyond the basics
- Very minor binder/filler/additive leakage. I know it has additive because that's the nature of student grade paint, but it doesn't leak out like some other brands
- Of the inexpensive tier of student grade paints, these are generally more expensive than the others
- Some colors are more expensive than others, and even approach artist grade prices
In my other online life outside of writing reviews, I’m an amateur portrait artist. In the past, I mostly used colored pencils. But recently, I’ve started trying to learn oil painting. I’ve done just over 20 paintings now, and have used four different brands of student grade paint. Paint brands typically have different tiers, but most offer at least one higher level artist grade and a lower level called student grade. Because I’m an amateur, I use exclusively student grade paints. I’m still trying to learn the ins and outs of how oils work, so it makes sense to me to be more frugal right now. Of course, I said the same thing about pencils, and I really never switched from Prismacolor Premiers even after years of practice.
I’ve found the Gamblin 1980 paints to be the best of the student grade tier. The colors seem to have a lot of depth and offer the most vibrant pigments. I also experience very little additive/filler/binder leakage with these, which is sometimes an issue with these less expensive paints. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive of the group I’ve evaluated. So, my approach has become to buy Gamblin 1980 paint for my most used and most important colors, then fill out the rest of my supply with Utrecht Studio Series which is also quite good. Prices do vary for Gamblin paints, so some actually get quite expensive even at the student grade level (like Cadmium Red).
I’ve embedded a comparison video above which compares four different brands of student grade oil paints – Gamblin 1980, Utrecht Studio Series, Master’s Touch (a craft store brand), and Castle Arts. Of the paints I compared, Gamblin 1980 and Utrecht were definitely the stand outs. Although online images don’t always shows colors accurately to real life, you can tell even in this comparison video that the Gamblin seems to have a richer pigment to it in comparison to Master’s Touch. Both of these were Yellow Ochre. That level of color difference matches my general experience with other colors. Although my experience level as an artist is definitely in the “amateur/learning” phase, I’ve used these enough to develop fairly clear preferences at this point.
In terms of availability, you can find Gamblin paints at most craft and specialty stores, but probably not major retailers like Walmart and Target. I usually buy them from Blick Art Supplies because the price is the best I’ve found, but Cheap Joe’s is also a good option. Although they are available at craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, I find that those are often the most expensive places to buy Gamblin paints. You can buy larger multiple color sets at Amazon, but individual tubes are not always easy to find (and only in limited colors).
Since founding Gamblin Artists Colors, Robert Gamblin has wanted artists to be able to paint freely — to use color and texture without hesitation or reservation.
To do this, painters need colors that are true. True to the pigment. True to historic working properties. True to the emotion of each color. Colors that feel right under the brush and that age right on the canvas.
Gamblin 1980 Oil Colors offer artists true color and real value. This line of 48 colors offers artists a better student-grade paint, made here in America at a terrific value, from a company you can believe in. Every color in the line is ground in linseed oil, with the exceptions of Transparent White and TItanium White, which are ground in safflower oil.
Introductory Set (Available on Blick and Amazon) – This set gives beginning painters a thoughtfully constructed palette of luscious Gamblin 1980 Oil Colors to support any style of painting. It includes 37 ml (1.25 oz) tubes of Cadmium Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, Ivory Black, Titanium White, and Solvent-Free Gel Medium, plus a primed, handcrafted panel made from sustainably forested North American birch.