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Is Gamblin oil paint professional grade?

Oil paints are popular among artists for their versatility, blendability, and rich pigments. Gamblin is a reputable oil paint brand known for its high-quality artist oils. But is Gamblin truly a professional grade oil paint? In this in-depth guide, we’ll examine Gamblin’s qualities and see how they compare against other leading professional oil paints.

Gamblin Artist Colors is a Portland-based company founded in 1980 by Robert Gamblin. He set out to create oil paints with a focus on craftsmanship and high-pigment concentrations inspired by the old masters.

Today, Gamblin offers over 120 oil paint colors in their Artist line. This includes single pigment hues, convenience mixes, and Gamblin’s unique fast-drying 1980 line. The paints use top-grade refined linseed oil and market-grade pigments sourced worldwide.

Gamblin’s popularity and reputation have grown over the decades among artists looking for rich, buttery oils. Their pricing hits a nice mid-range too – less expensive than premium brands like Old Holland but costlier than student grades.

So how do Gamblin’s key qualities stack up against leading professional oil paints? Let’s take a close look.

Pigment Quality

High-end oil paints use pure, top tier pigments to achieve intense, opaque colors. Pigment quality has a significant impact on the paint’s working properties, lightfastness, and longevity.

Gamblin uses single-pigment colors derived from minerals, metals, and organic sources. Their selection includes popular pigments like Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Quinacridone. Gamblin does source pigments worldwide to control costs, using pigments classified as artist grade.

Many of Gamblin’s colors have excellent lightfastness ratings of I or II based on ASTM testing standards. This means the colors should resist fading for 100+ years. Gamblin is also transparent about each paint’s pigment info and specifications.

How does this compare with leading professional oil paint brands?

Brand Pigment Quality
Old Holland Top-tier pigments, many rare and unique selections
Winsor & Newton High-grade artist pigments
Gamblin Artist-grade pigments, extensive selection

Old Holland is renowned for its exceptional pigment quality with many hand-ground, natural pigment varieties. Winsor & Newton also uses high-end pigments in their Artist line, though not as extensive as Old Holland’s selection.

While not at Old Holland’s premium tier, Gamblin’s pigment quality is certainly professional grade. They offer a wide array of colors with high concentrations and excellent lightfast ratings overall.

Binders and Fillers

The binder suspends the pigment particles in paint and allows the paint to be workable while wet yet dry to a solid film. Linseed oil is the classic binder used in oil paints. Fillers like chalk or clay may also be added to modify paint properties.

Gamblin uses high-quality, food-grade refined linseed oil in their Artist oils. This oil offers good stability and yellowing resistance. Gamblin does not add fillers or wax compounds that can increase shine but diminish pigment strength.

Here is how Gamblin compares regarding base ingredients:

Brand Binder Fillers
Old Holland Refined linseed oil None
Winsor & Newton Refined linseed oil None
Gamblin Refined linseed oil None

Gamblin, Old Holland, and Winsor & Newton all use high-grade refined linseed oil without additives. This results in paints with excellent pigment strength and purity of color.

Texture and Handling

How a paint handles and its consistency contribute to its working properties on the canvas. Professional grades are formulated to have excellent texture, blendability, and handling.

Gamblin oils have a buttery, smooth texture immediately out of the tube. The paint is fluid and easy to control in mixing. It has a moderate tackiness and retains brushstrokes well. Gamblin offers a fast-drying 1980 line for artists who prefer a quicker drying time.

Here is a comparison of handling qualities:

Brand Texture Blendability
Old Holland Thick, buttery Superb
Winsor & Newton Smooth, moderately thick Excellent
Gamblin Smooth, fluid Excellent

Old Holland is renowned for its unmistakable thick, buttery texture immediately from the tube. Winsor & Newton and Gamblin oils have a smooth, fluid viscosity. Gamblin strikes a nice balance between thickness and fluidity.

All three brands offer excellent blending capabilities. Gamblin may have a slight edge over Winsor & Newton regarding blendability and brushability.


Permanence refers to a paint’s long-term stability and archival properties. Professional oil paints are extremely durable and resistant to degradation over time.

Gamblin formulates their oils to be lightfast and non-yellowing. They avoid fugitive pigments and use inert, stable base ingredients. Gamblin’s permanence makes them suitable for museum-quality work.

Here is an overview of each brand’s permanence:

Brand Permanence
Old Holland Unsurpassed; extremely resistant to degradation
Winsor & Newton Excellent; very stable and durable
Gamblin Excellent; suitable for archival work

Old Holland offers unmatched permanence due to their superlative ingredients. Overall, Gamblin displays similar permanence to Winsor & Newton. While not as indestructible as Old Holland, Gamblin oils will stand the test of time and are highly resistant to degradation.


Professional grade oil paints utilize the highest quality materials, so they are pricier than lower quality grades. However, there is variation between professional brands.

Brand Average Price Per Tube
Old Holland $20-50
Winsor & Newton $15-25
Gamblin $10-15

On average, Gamblin oils cost $10-15 for a 37ml tube. This puts them on the lower end of professional paint pricing. Old Holland is exceptionally pricey at $20-50 per tube, given their ultra premium pigments. Winsor & Newton lands in the middle at $15-25.

Gamblin offers significant value, with professional quality at a more affordable price than leading brands. This makes them accessible for intermediate and professional artists alike.


Based on this in-depth examination of their qualities, Gamblin Artist Oil Colors clearly measure up as a professional grade paint:

  • Artist-grade pigments with excellent lightfastness
  • High-quality refined linseed oil binder
  • Smooth, buttery texture and excellent handling
  • Archival permanence and stability
  • Reasonable pricing for the quality

Gamblin may not be at the ultra-premium tier of Old Holland, but easily competes with leading professional brands like Winsor & Newton. Gamblin oils offer professional artists rich, lightfast colors with superb performance. With their reasonable prices, Gamblin paints are accessible for intermediate and student artists as well.

In the end, painter preference and individual color needs should guide oil paint selection. Give Gamblin oils a try to see if their qualities suit your artistic vision.