I’ve been thinking about building a travel-size set of oil paint for a little while, since my bag of tubes is a hassle to bring anywhere. Unfortunately, I realized too late that keeping my paints in a gallon Ziplock bag without caps is not the smartest option.
The need for a travel size kit was further pushed this week after I only brought tempera and watercolor on my vacation to Santa Fe. After several days of struggle and wasted eggs, it was time to admit I am meant to do most parts of my painting with oil. So, off to the supply store I went! Luckily, they have EVERYTHING here in Santa Fe, including a store which rivals The Great Dick Blick, Artisan. The downside to Artisan is that they don’t have any sales or promotions, or at least, none that were happening while I was there. Everything is full price. However, they have an amazing selection for painters. Another interesting thing is that they have signs everywhere asking people not to uncap the paint, since the altitude here will dry the paint unreasonably fast. Whether that’s true or just to keep people in line, it worked on me, since I am “one of those people” who uncaps tubes of paint at the store.
I picked out this “Traditional Colors” set from Williamsburg. Artisan had four such sets available, each with eight 11ml tubes of color and one 37ml tube of white: Traditional (a typical palette), Signature (colors Williamsburg is known for), Landscape (colors for landscape painters) and Modern Colors (bolder tones). I almost picked Signature, but since this is meant to be my “travel kit”, I decided now is not the time to explore a new palette. The price was around $51.
I also selected a small jar of Liquin. Lately I have only been using Neo Megilp from Gamblin, but I was curious about Liquin which I hadn’t used since the beginning of school, where it was a required item on our materials list. Perhaps this doesn’t make my review entirely scientific, since I used two new materials. But, at least they are both gel mediums.
I sketched out a small fried egg on a scrap of BFK Rives (a tribute to all of the eggs I wasted earlier in the week), sealed it with glue, and off I went! There’s nothing like the first squeeze of a new tube of paint out on the palette. Mine is always just a scrap of aluminum foil. I love how oil feels on metal and I like to throw it away when its dry and all of the space is gone.
So, now the review beings!
Typically I use a mix of Gamblin, Holbein and W&N (of which I love Gamblin the most, followed by Holbein). From my little egg painting, I can tell I love these too! They were a joy to work with and did exactly what I needed them to do. Here is the first layer:
I love the Raw Umber the set includes and how it interacts with the Cerulean (a genuine Cerulean, which I’ve never used before! All genuine Cadmiums too. I think all of mine at home are hues. I don’t think it makes a difference anymore with how advanced “synthetic” hues are, or at least I don’t notice a difference!). This is a bonus because I don't have any Raw Umber in my other set.The set also has French Raw Umber, which I didn’t crack open for this painting.
I do wish the set included another earth tone, specifically Burnt Sienna which most “traditional” sets have. It is included in the Landscape set.
As for the Liquin, it’s great, but for my taste, I will stick with Neo Megilp. It could be the altitude, but the Liquin became sticky after only about an hour. For some painters that will suit them perfectly! But I can’t help coming back after a while and smudging paint around, something Liquin did not allow this time. I will do a side by side test at home to make sure.
This is where I left off for the night. I am happy with how “crispy” I was able to get the edges of the egg. Little spots where I put dark back over light areas worked out great too. I’m sure that was a combo of the Liquin and the pigment strength of the paint working its magic.
I came back the next day to check on it. Still sticky. The next day I was able to complete it as such, but it could still use another layer:
To conclude, I would definitely recommend Williamsburg Paints! The set of tubes I got is small, but I can tell they will last a long time, being so highly pigmented. My Holbein tubes are only slightly larger and I’ve had them a year. Even with regular use, I haven’t had to replace them yet. I know these will fare the same way. The price is certainly up there, but I think many painters will not have remorse spending a little extra on a special set.