Geneva Oil Paints transformed the way I paint.
For decades, I’ve painted with oils straight from the tube. Rather, I should say I fought with oils straight from the tube, because I regularly wrestled with painting challenges: Viscosities ranging from cold butter to syrup, drying times varying from hours to days, issues with leveling and glare, uneven final surfaces, and difficult-to-photograph results. Mediums like linseed oil and galkyd have helped in the fight but they brought their own problems.
Looking at master paintings comforted me a bit, because I could see that many of them faced similar problems. Still, there had to be a better way (Yes, I experimented with gouache and other media).
I knew I could mix my own oil pigments and optimize the medium for teach, but that is an expensive, smell, slow, and detailed process I’d rather not pursue. Others have done that work; I’d rather invest in their expertise and get going on my assignments.
I did a good bit of research and tried many manufacturers’ products before settling on Geneva’s line. Why? They directly addressed my concerns. Working with their materials improved my processes.
- The paints share a consistent viscosity, more like cream than butter, a real pleasure to mix and paint with. Laydown is easy and blending a breeze.
- They dry slowly. This was a challenge for me. Deadline-driven artists like myself normally seek fast drying paints. I became a convert to Geneva’s products when, as a part-time artist only able to set aside an hour or two to paint at a time, I found their materials still workable eight days after squeezing them from the tube. I could literally come home from work, sit down at my easel, and start painting. No prep time, and the paints no longer dried out while waiting for me to find another long span of free time. This has been a powerful time and money saver for me and drastically reduces the time I spend trying to match dried-out colors.
- The colors are truly vibrant, so color mixing is not a problem. And when I need a specific color, they work perfectly with my cache of pure colors. All I need to do to match viscosities is add a little standar painting medium (linseed stand oil with petroleum distillate).
- Glare is reduced as well. Leveling is the ability of paint to hold the details of a stroke. Thicker paints retain the texture of the bristles as the brush drags across a surface. This can be wonderful, but those ridges can produce hot spots as highlight strokes when trying to photograph them. Thinner paints smooth out, softening edges, reducing glare and presenting a more photo-friendly surface. This is a powerful plus in many ways.
One unplanned benefit to using Geneva paints was that they changed my technique. Instead of using raw throw-down on dry layers, I now work alla prima, adding wet paint layers over still-wet paint. It felt like coming home. Drying time is much longer, but for those projects where timing is essential, I can add driers or revert to my previous techniques.
Will I only use Geneva paints? No, for many reasons, including those recounted above. But I have enjoyed them so far. You can see how I used them through my article, “Watching Over the Newborn Lord”.
I recommend watching the videos on Geneva’s website. The concepts are instructive.
FWIW, the set I bought from them is called Essential Palette + Black, which includes 100ml tubes of Pyrrole Rubine, French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Yellow, Titanium White, and Geneva Black. The investment was worth it. They have two other more-intense colors, but so far I haven’t needed them.
Let me know your own results. I’ll report back as I keep learning.