Three Oil Paints Test & Review




General Notes.

The aim of this exercise was to try three different Oil mediums to get up to date with latest products in the market and to review my options. They are Weber Permalba Traditional Oils, Weber wOil water mixable oils and Genesis Heat Set Oils.

I used hogs bristle brushes of varying quality, but found little difference apart from the Fan brushes where the cheaper fans were significantly inferior to the more expensive brushes.

Also, I did find the cheaper brushes lost more hairs from the start, and went rather soggy if left wet for any time. Using Turpenoid Natural, readily available from various Art Supply shops stopped this issue in its tracks, and was very cost effective if the brushes were initially cleaned using odourless Turps with the traditional oils, and soap and water with the case of the other mediums wOil water mixable and Genesis oils. Then the Turpenoid Natural was used to just tip and wipe the brush to final clean and condition. Using this method I found Turpenoid Natural virtually lasted indefinitely and the brushes showed no sign of the soggy distress caused normally by water on Hogs Bristle. It is not an issue with most animal hairs (Sable, Squirrel, Badger etc. and synthetic like Taklon, Nylon and others). Any small amounts of paint quickly settled to the bottom of the container (Glass Jar) and using Coffee machine filters was easily removed by decanting to another jar.

In the case of the cleaning regime with Traditional Oil, I found the odourless Turpenoid did not allow full settling of the pigment, as it seemed to retain some colour regardless of the amount of time it sat in the container. I tried another brand but was unhappy with its overall performance compared to the Turpenoid.

I used a plastic Richeson plastic brush washer bucket as this was impervious to turps which was the only plastic bucket I found that could hold turps without affecting the plastic. Metal Buckets do not have this limitation. I chose the Richeson plastic bucket because it has a special profile rib section in the bottom to help remove pigment without stressing the bristles. When I used the more common wire mesh available in most metal buckets, it seems to cause significant wear of the brush if used regularly.  Richeson also had special profiles for holding the brushes in the solution without the head being in contact with anything but just sitting in the solution free of pressure.

I used archival quality stretched canvas for the traditional oils and wOil, and archival quality boards for the Genesis. I did find the stretched canvas was more pleasant to use in most areas I worked, and the boards did get out of shape due to the heat in the studio (30 – 34 degrees Celsius, and the drying process. I also have doubts about the archival quality of the backing boards except for a Fredrix brand sold as Archival but at a premium price. Even so the Fredrix warped in the heat.

I painted a single picture three times, once each with the paint to be tested.

Traditional  Oil

General: I used traditional Oil for this painting being the Weber Permalba Artist Quality Oil from USA. It has been marketed twice in this country, initially by Mont Marte who dropped it because it was the only true Artist Quality Oil they sold, and did not match the needs of their market, mainly being casual painters, or new starters. It was also marketed by another company, but due to the method used by the previous distributor was not popular with quality art suppliers due to the heavy discount that was applied when it was cleared out by the initial distributor.

Pro: This was the easiest to use, the oil was buttery, the colours very consistent and close to my pigment standards chart. They were easy to thin without losing richness of colour using Weber Liquid-glaze or washes using Weber Turpenoid Odourless turps.

I also found they were very good consistency across the colour range apart from Cobalt Blue which had a very significant amount of Oil in the nozzle of the tube. The tubes are metal lined flexible plastic and were easy to get the paint out of.

An initial clean with odourless turps, then dishwashing liquid and a final dip in Turpenoid Natural Brush cleaner/conditioner worked just fine.

I was painting in about 32 degrees Celsius in the studio, but did not note any specific effects of this heat with the Permalba Oils. Unlike the Genesis I did not notice  any affect from evaporation of the odourless sturps if used as a thinning medium


Con: Despite using Odourless solvent the studio was carrying a strong oil odour for several days until the paint dried, something I am unaccustomed to because I use the water mixable oils for most of my painting. It was not as bad as my previous experience with traditional oils, but still a concern.

The recommended thinner (Liquid-glaze) is somewhat expensive, and suppliers of the Permalba are few and far between. i.e. rare ! Getting Supplies consistently has been a problem for some time.


wOil Water Mixable Oils

General:  The wOils by Weber are a recent development.

The concept was pioneered by Winsor & Newton some twenty or so years ago, with the Artisan having an initial goal of creating a wholly toxic free environment and the initial release certainly achieved that. But some of the pigment alternatives used to eliminate the toxic Cobalt, Cadmium and other heavy metal forms were less than successful with artists used to those pigments and eventually they relented and used different pigments including Cadmium and Cobalt. I don’t believe Lead was ever used. However, the paints were somewhat thick, chalky and not as easy to work with as traditional Oils. However, from personal experience the archival qualities appear to be just as good as any Artist Quality traditional oil. I have paintings used when the product first appeared, and detect no loss of colour or cracking at all.

It remains to be seen if the wOils are just as Archival, so far I have not found any reason for concern.

Weber did extensive research and is the only range I know that is totally toxic free, as the art of pigment development has come a long way since W & N invented the concept.

Interestingly, you can mix wOil and Artisan without any worries, but the wOil also can be mixed with Acrylic Paints if you need a special colour, to great effect.

The colour range is limited to 32 colours, whereas the W & N has a far bigger range of colours. Weber said some 18 months ago that they were working on releasing that year another 32 colours, but no sign of that yet.


These are very similar consistency to the Permalba Traditional Oils, but maybe even more buttery, good strong pigments, easy to work. They live up to the claims, and can be used with soap and water for cleaning, water can also be used as a limited thinner for washes, but the specially designed mediums are far better than water for what they do, and over-using water can cause some breakdown of the paint.

There is no odour from the paints either when being used, or when drying.

They essentially behave exactly like traditional oil paint being as workable, mixing colours gets the same results, they take about the same time to dry, glazing works just as well and rapid drying medium does not seem to affect colour as far as I can tell. Brush techniques are the same, and little extra needs to be learned before achieving exactly the same results as Traditional Oils.

Unlike Artisan paints I have not seen any change in consistency of the paint in the tubes, whereas some Artisan colour in tubes at three years of age were unusable, my experience being with Titanium White it became quite dry and chalky.

The special range of specially prepared wOil brushes are exceptional quality and usability.


As mentioned earlier, archival quality is yet to be proven, but Weber claim it is an Artist quality archival oil just like any other.

The 32 colour range may be limiting for some, as many common colours in other ranges are just not available. I compared the Viridian with other brands in an earlier trial and found no more variation that any other brand, but did have some variation when matched against all the other brands. In defence, I could not find any two brands with substantially the same colour Viridian !.

I chose Viridian because previous tests of this colour showed some extreme difference even among major brand names. wOils seems to match the majority of other traditional artist quality oil paints. wOil and Artisan Viridian are vastly different to each other, as was Lucas water oils.

Unlike Artisan, who make most colours available in larger more economic tubes (up to 200ml) wOils from Weber choose to only have selected colours available in 100ml tubes. However the cost saving of the larger tubes is much greater than any other water mixable range, getting almost three times the quantity 37ml vs 100ml at less than twice the cost of the 37ml in most cases. The colour choice for the larger tubes I found a bit mystifying, as several common colours were not done in the larger tubes.

Like W & N Artisan, they do a range of special brushes for wOil and while they are exceptionally good in most case are rather expensive compared to other brands of similar quality. They do not have any Hogs Bristle brushes.


Genesis Heat Set Oils.

General: I have done an extensive review of the genesis range in an earlier set of posts, so check those out for general information.

Genesis Heat Set Oils are (I Think) Polymer based and strictly chemical speaking they are not oils.

But they are handled like oils apart from one big difference, and several subtle differences in the way to use them.


1. The biggie ?  They never dry !  At least not until you apply 130 degrees Celsius using a suitable heat gun. This means you have total control on when your painting or part thereof dries.

You can do a wash, and then work wet on wet, or dry it in minutes and continue.

The main advantages of Genesis are the total control over when the paint dries – minutes or months or anything in between.  Using the heat gun on a small to medium size painting can be done in minutes. Drying a part of the painting has enormous possibilities for those who like to experiment with what they are doing.

2. As the paint never dries, in theory you never need to clean your brushes, never waste any paint, just leave it on the palette forever or until used. The paints come in jars because of this, making it easy to get paint without the usual tube fiddle. While the paint seems a little expensive, due to the total lack of waste, it actually compares favourably with traditional oils.

3,  You can use the same tools, same brushes, same techniques (mostly).

4.  The Genesis has not only a wide range of colours, but the naming actually makes sense when you understand the philosophy of numbering colours. And in addition they provide a chart to show quantities to get the most common named colours like for instance Naples Yellow or Cad Red Pale by mixing Genesis colours. Many common names used for colours are not available as a genesis pre-mixed colour, but my experience is that the range of colours available means it is not much of an issue. And coming in glass jars means you can see exactly what colour you are looking at even without opening the jar (or tube in traditional oils).

5. Any tutorials or workshops, as well as YouTube instructions for Oil paints are still applicable, and you can generally submit paintings to galleries as an oil painting by pre agreed conventions that have been established for some time.

6. Use same brushes as other oil paints

7.  Clean up with soap and water

8.  Use a glass palette for no mess mixing and cleaning and I rarely clean my palette of colours, just leave them until I use them up, then quickly wipe the small residue off and start again.

9.  Paints never dry out so they last almost forever in the jar or on your palette as well as your brush (dust can be an issue, so best to store them in a dust free environment, like a covered box, cupboard of drawer.

10.  Use same surfaces as oils (Except plastic based surfaces, Genesis will eat most plastic if left in contact for some time)

11.  Control of the drying process means absolute convenience, if you get called away for a phone call or an overnight trip, who cares – Just start up when you get back.

12.  Cleans up easily in soap and water when you do need to clean up – I always clean my brushes at the end of a session anyway, even though strictly speaking I could avoid that boring task if I wanted to.

13.  Most important to my taste, the colours are rich and well shaded, and there is no colour change whatsoever when dry compared to wet. I have yet to find a traditional oil paint that can claim this across the colour range, and the colours can be just so vibrant if needed. In an earlier test I checked colour of several paints against an industry pigment chart, and Genesis came out tops.

14.  No colour or medium has ANY toxic content in the Genesis range, is not flammable, no odour whatsoever and can be cleaned/removed from almost anything (except clothing)


  1. A heat gun can be a laborious time consuming mind numbing experience if you are doing a BIG painting. Better done in an oven, or a convection heater. Genesis provides complete drying instructions for such as a big 2m x 3m painting. Paintings sizes that are most common, anything below  24” x 36” is not so bad but when you get to the larger size mentioned above a dual heat gun system is better.
  2. The paint never dries, so using rags for clean-up is a definite no-no, as it will stay wet on the rag forever, use paper towels and dispose of them in a paper bag safely.
  3. A heat gun costs money, and cannot be used for much else (Except paint stripping). It is too hot for using to dry your hair, so forget using the home hair dryer, it is not hot enough. In addition the paint is sensitive to too much heat, it will bubble if overcooked so you need an accurate thermometer to set the gun to the right heat. A little over 130 degrees Celsius in not a problem, but even a little under 130 will add significantly to how long it takes to get dry, if ever.
  4. While it handles much like Oils, there are differences. Wet on Wet requires a somewhat modified method, and I still have some issues with that.
  5. And when using odourless turps as a medium, unlike the other oils, evaporation does seem to happen very fast, meaning continually fine tuning the medium content in the paint.
  6. They do provide their own thinning medium but it is limited to 2 parts per 3 of paint, so it is not really much use for fine detail work (Use odourless solvent) and washes.
  7. I have not had any luck with their glazing medium and it seems to be a major problem having considerable coverage on forums.
  8. Some brushes with plastic bases bristles are suspect as far as leaving the paint on the brush indefinitely. I used one cheap taklon brush, and it fell apart from just that habit.
  9. The jars are all one size (1 Ounces/30ml) except Titanium White which is available in 4 ounce/118ml for not much more than the 1 ounce jar, great value but NO other colours come in 4 ounce jars . . .
  10. The list of mediums is limited.
  11. Genesis eats plastic over time so be careful about what you use. I lost my excellent plastic palette (which I tested genesis on the back of but obviously not for long enough) which was irreparably scarred by Genesis. Same goes for cling wrap, no no !
  12. Some surface material could be too sensitive to heat to use as a paint surface for Genesis, test it before making and considerable investment in time or money.
  13. I found if I mixed too much Odourless turps as a medium in a warm to hot day, it would become sticky (not dry but still not workable) in some sort of reaction to the loss of the thinning medium. I also found by accident that Turpenoid Natural even dries the paint totally if used as a medium, unlike traditional oils where it can safely be used up to 25% with no unwanted issues, and it is totally non-toxic and is not flammable, a real safety gain over odourless turps which is highly flammable.


The following is a summary of my findings to match what I want from an oil paint. I encourage you to do your own tests before making any significant change from what you are doing right now. Just buy small quantities of primary colours (Red, Blue, Yellow, and White with perhaps a black(blue shade) and a base green to test it.

I found the easiest to use was the Traditional oils in that they we so easy to work, and a range of reliable and useful colours gave me good results. However the overriding negative is the odour from the paint even if using odourless turps – and remembers even though the odourless turps is not so smelly it is JUST as toxic and just as flammable as the paints are.

The wOils I have used for some time and I am comfortable with them but I still would like a reliable fast drying medium available, and a greater range of colours, and a better selection of large tubes.

Genesis I am least comfortable with the least, am still learning how to use it, and finding subtle differences to achieve the same result as oils.

But the winning combination of non-toxic, cleans with soap and water, fast dries when I want it to do so, is cost effective with no waste whatsoever and a good range of colours and I can use all my existing tools . . . which means I will continue to try and master Genesis while perhaps continuing wOil usage from time to time – at least until I start to run out.

Below is a sample of the same painting done with each type of paint. It was too boring to make them exactly the same so there are differences, and I don’t claim to be a good painter yet.


The traditional Oil is a 16” x 20” CreatArt brand stretched canvas, with three coats of Gesso primer sanded between each coat. I used a dark background behind the trees and shrubs which for some reason I did not do for the other two paintings . . . and with some regret; I think these have the better depth. The background pine trees are too large (I used too big a brush) and I have not yet mastered clouds! Mostly wet on wet the painting was done in about 1.5 hours






The wOils has a better sky, and a different tree outline and the pine trees in the background are more detailed and smaller, not sure if better or worse. Not happy with the lack of depth in the foreground trees. Same canvas had same surface treatment as the traditional oils. Mostly wet on wet painting took about 2.5 hours.








The Genesis is on a CreatArt wider artist quality board (23” x 17”) and was not sanded between Gesso coats of which there were only two, so much more thread pattern shows. Still not happy with the trees overall I think they are perhaps a bit better than the wOils attempt. I basically worked from back to front. Did Sky and dried, then background trees and dried, than houses and dried, then foreground Trees then dries, then water and final dry before some detail (after looking at the painting for a day or two) on the banks and grass for another final dry. Hard to tell the time of the Genesis painting because it was done over Christmas with many interruptions but I would estimate about 1.5 hours in total.



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Learn all about Paint Brushes at this web site

Artists use paintbrushes to apply ink or paint to canvas to create colorful decorations. Paintbrushes have an attached handle with bristles that stick out from the end. An artist grows to cherish the various kinds of paintbrushes the more . . . – See more at:

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Overseas Magazines at low prices

I recently realised I was paying up to 250% higher costs for my favourite overseas magazines from the local newsagent.

So I checked for another source and found the PocketMags website.


It has magazines from around the world in most categories and at the fraction of the price on the newsagent shelves here in Australia.

The Pro:  Price, ease of use, latest issues on publication date

The con:  Available to download and read on your PC, Tablet etc only, not hard copy.

Has a build in reader two versions old (rubbish) and Beta new reader (given how bad the old reader was I know why there is a new reader) that is excellent and does not seem to have any bugs.

I get several overseas magazines from as low as $4.00 that sell here in OZ for $17.95 upwards.

The range of magazine categories is extensive and covers many of the best available anywhere. Have a look. !


Colin Rayner

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NEW Product Review Video – What’s Coming Up

At Last our first video. It is a little rough around the edges, but I have learnt heaps on this journey and should be able to improve with the next one.

This video is purely to provide an incentive to subscribe to our YouTube channel and get advised when new videos come out. While the plan is to publish at least one video each month, in practice I hope to intersperse this with other people’s videos, as well as short question and answer videos from time to time.

Subscribe here:  Rebel Art Shop YouTube Channel

So Here it is !




Please comment if you have opinions, ask questions using the email shown in the Video and subscribe to the Youtube channel if you want to see the next video.

Here is a text summary of what I say on the video for those that cannot view video links.

First Video – Introduction April 2013

This is my first video, and it is my intention to let you know what I have planned for future videos.

So please spend a little time to find out what’s coming as well as details of an exciting competition you can enter for FREE right now.

My first product review video which is not far away now will be a comparison test to see how much canvas selected oil paint brands can cover. This came about because I once attended a paint manufacturer’s presentation where they boldly claimed that their brand achieved the best coverage ever! All this was without any real proof or justification apart from a couple of photos, and a pre-painted canvas. So I thought I might try some leading brands and see just how they compare. While not strictly scientific it will be a practical approach that should show a likely outcome and guide if cost per square centimetre is important to you. While this may seem petty it can help where people have a choice of several brands because other issues are too similar to differentiate. I believe the Review will show there is a vast difference between brands as to how far a tube of paint will go.

You will find out when the video is published.

I will be using a basic stretched canvas of 380gram weight and it will have two coats of gesso even though the manufacturer claims it is primed already. I’m not sure I am impressed with canvas that comes pre-primed as it seems very sparse on the surface to me.

I will paint a strip section for each brand that’s 25mm wide and runs in two strips totalling 400mm across the canvas. The brands I have chosen will include traditional Oils from China, Australian, U.S.A., as well as a Water Mixable Oil and a Heat Set Oil to round out the range.

All will be the same colour which is Cobalt Blue.

The quantity of paint I will use will be precisely measured using a 2.5ml spoon, with the paint being flush with the lip of the spoon to ensure consistency of measure.

I will use the same brush with each brand, which is a Ruby Red Flat number 6. This has a synthetic hair and is one of Rebel Art’s most popular brushes and seems to be good value too. Others tell me they are impressed with the quality of this brush.

I will also assess how colour correct each brand is compared to a pigment standards chart.

It should be of interest to some for me to try and rate the consistency of the paint, ease of application and how well they clean up after.


I’ll be using Weber’s Turpenoid Natural for cleaning, which is another test I plan to produce at some time soon. It is non toxic, NOT flammable and has no strong fumes. I will cover how to use it and where there are limitations that apply
However the best news for those who love a bargain is you get to enter a guessing competition. All you have to do is estimate how far across the 400mm strip you think the winning brand will go. The closest guess or the first entry where two or more get it exactly right will win a complete set of primary colours in that brand of paint. That is Red, Blue and Yellow as well as black and white.  Entry is FREE and all you need to do is send an email with your estimate to

I’m not going to mention the actual brands used until the video is released, so no clue there but here is one hint.


“Each canvas strip in two rows is 25mm wide and 200mm long with a total of 400mm space available and I don’t expect any brand will get that far.”

Entries can be submitted right up until the release date of the actual review video in a few weeks.

One entry only per person please, the winner will be notified by return email and mentioned on our second video.

The second product review video I’ll be producing will be about the new Paint n Peel plastic palettes from Mijello. Mijello claim you can use the palette like any other type, when finished working rather than do a clean-up of the surface let the paint dry and it will simply peel off, no scraping, no washing, and they also say that no stain will be left behind. I will be interested to see if this is in fact the case and how useful the various shapes and sizes are.

There are several types of palette made by Mijello apart from the paint n peel models. These include a palette surface that makes watercolour paint appear as it would on the paper. I understand many artists using watercolour have a small slip of paper beside the traditional palette to see exactly what it will look like on the paper before they apply it. Mijello also have palettes for watercolour, Oil and some acrylic paints. These palettes are air tight sealable and can be closed up with confidence that it will still be OK some time later. Not sure yet just how long though. Maybe we will try it aye?

You can see further information on Mijello Palettes at the Rebel Art Shop web site and exactly what models are available as well as prices for them.

Here is the link:

Some other tests I am currently looking to prepare will include reviews on several brands of sable brushes as well as a rundown of where they are best used. Also I will be testing some brands of water mixable oils in a comparison test. For something different I will prepare a list of the basic tools and equipment needed to get started painting with Oil, Acrylic and Watercolour


Email for topic suggestions: However, I would appreciate any other suggestions on what product reviews you would like to see or anything else you may be interested in.

Email me at

If you have questions on any art related topics please send them in using the same email and I will select the best questions and make a video to answer the questions as best I can or seek out an expert opinion if needed. I will look at ALL suggestions and even if I cannot put them on a video, I will try and get you an answer or at least point you to where you can get an answer.

Until then I hope you all keep painting, while making the effort to balance your interest in painting with the needs of your family and friends . . . and above all . . . enjoy life and treat others as you would have them to treat you.. Bye

Colin Rayner


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New Art Supplies Product Reviews Video – Sneek Preview

Well, I have been working hard to produce the first video outlining the change to our blog effort.

1. Blog will be supported by a video subject each month

2. I already have in the pipeline a number of product reviews under way, see the screen capture below for clues.

3. My newsletter in a similar fashion will now include links to the Rebel Art video channel on YouTube for all information except sale specials.

4. I will be inviting questions and will feature the answer of selected questions in each monthly video.

5. Look at the video when it is announced and you could enter my FREE guessing competition just by watching the video and emailing your guess. The Video has all the information needed to make a considered guess. There is a prize !

I think  around 9th March I rashly listed the steps to make my first video and said just a few weeks. Well that was a bit optimistic.

However the introductory video is uploading to YouTube as I type and should be available in a few days.

In the meantime I am uploading some screen captures from the video to wet your appetite.

The time to upload alone is almost 12 hours as we produced the video in 1920 X 1080 Progressive which is the highest HD quality YouTube supports and is akin to the best Blue-Ray standard that DVD can achieve.


V001_Final.Still002Part of the header which shows a quick peak at some of the images and movies used in the first video.




V001_Final.Still004_medThis is part of the information presented to help with entering the guessing competition as well as what the second video is about. You will have to watch the video to find out more.


A list of some of the topics I will be covering in upcoming videos, but send your suggestions if they are better they may jump the queue.

The rest of the screenshots don’t warrant explanation.

V001_Final.Still010_med V001_Final.Still005_med V001_Final.Still006_medV001_Final.Still007

















As I mentioned I have set up a new YouTube channel and will release details as soon as the channel is finalised. You are urged to subscribe to it to ensure you don’t miss any of the upcoming videos.

I hope there is enough here to entice you to watch my first RebelArtAustralia video blog.

Until next time when I hope to have the video link here for all to see and comment/complain/laugh/rubbish with brickbats or bouquets

Colin Rayner


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Genesis Heat Set Oils Update with comments by Vicki Knowles

Vicki recently contacted me about the earlier comments I made on Genesis Heat Set Oils.

She mentioned some points she had discovered which I think warrant exposure. Hope they are of interest to those who use Genesis Oils and perhaps struggle with the traditional cleaning methods.

Here is part of her comments

”  I know your review of Genesis paints was about 1.5 years old already, but I only just came across it.  I love the Genesis paints and periodically do a little Google search to see what other people are saying about them or to see if there’s anything I might have missed.

 You do make a lot of valid points in your review, but one thing I disagree with was the ease of clean up, I just use 91% rubbing alcohol and it couldn’t be easier (well I suppose plain water would be easier).  I didn’t see you mention rubbing alcohol as an option so I thought I’d put it out there.

 Also regarding the cost factor-  I had purchased a kit that came with a heat gun so that wasn’t an additional expense.  Despite having it, I rarely even use the heat gun and much prefer the toaster oven instead!  I’m very fortunate in that I work very small, which is perfect for these paints.  I agree that a much larger piece would be a hassle to dry using the heat gun, I just wanted to mention how convenient they are for small format painters.  Since I paint so small, I use very little and most of my paints “look” brand new even though I’ve painted & sold enough to cover my investment several times over.

 As for waste, I went six years between my first try with them and my second, and the paint on the palette & brush were still as good as new.

 Just a little background on myself – I am primarily an oil painter, and I do still prefer traditional oils for larger pieces – sometimes I forget I have these and every time I use them I realize how much I do love them!  ”

AND . . .

”    Rubbing alcohol, do you have that in Australia?  It’s isopropyl alcohol – yes it’s toxic (I assume) if you drink it, but it’s definitely not toxic in the way paint thinners etc. are.  It’s used for cleaning cuts & such. and is generally found in the the skin care section of the pharmacy (it’s also used in skin toners, etc.).  Interesting that you hadn’t heard about it from Genesis, I could swear that’s where I first learned to use it, in fact I had thought it was the only solvent that should be used!  But I could be mistaken since I first bought them over ten years ago – I never heard of using soap & water. I do remember that 91% was better to use than 70%.  ”

Hope this is of value to some.


Colin Rayner



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Product Quality of Art Materials & Supplies?

How do we measure the Product Quality of Art Materials & Supplies?

When it comes to many of the mediums, tools, materials, surfaces and accessories we use as an artist, professional, part time of hobby, ALL will come in a range of quality levels. Knowing how good they are is somewhat of an unknown for many artists apart from feedback given by fellow artists.

In our upcoming series of video based product reviews we will attempt to enlighten you about selected strategic products. However here is a short overview of some of the things you can look out for, with a guide as to why you would buy one above another.

Many of these products they are often categorised as Artist Quality or Student Quality.

Some products that are specified this way include Oil paints, acrylic paint, gouache  paint, watercolours, mediums, papers, pencils, charcoals, even a small selection of various brand brushes, some canvas and sketch pads which also come in a variety of quality levels.

Others, such as tools are not so easily judged, and rarely have a specified quality standard . Easels are an excellent example, two easels may have exactly the same features, parts, and capability but one can cost several times more dollars than another. Why is it so?

What does this really mean?

Many elements come into play depending on the product, and can include:

  1. Archival Quality (How long will the final work last)
  2. Colour Consistency
  3. Pigments used
  4. Ease of mixing
  5. Coverage per ml, per stick, per tube
  6. Range of colours available
  7. Storage medium quality and/or type e.g. Plastic Tube vs Metal Tube
  8. Shelf Life before use by is reached (if specified)
  9. Warranty Offered – Sadly, often there is no strong warranty support.

The above is far from complete, but is a good starter guide.

Student Quality

This often includes the products at the lower end of the price range, but even within this category is a vast range of prices and quality.

Artist Quality

As above applies but generally the products are more expensive, bigger range, last longer, go further, have more reliable performance and colours, mixing is more predictable, containers are more durable and command better prices where sales of your work is involved. They also often have a stated warranty policy and stand behind the product if you have issues

Which should you use?

There are several thoughts on this but generally I apply the following as a candidate for student quality products.

  • Just starting out.
  • Not likely to be developing high grade works of art in the early stages.
  • Just trying it out, not sure if will be going to keep it up.
  • Unlikely to be making a family heirloom.
  • Have a limited budget
  • Not prolific producer
  • In an early learning phase, potentially producing sub-standard work.

Students are often in one or more of the above stages, and it makes sense not to spend any more than necessary to get started. It is unlikely in the early learning days that work will be kept (except for personal reasons) and if not selling the work, longevity is not really an issue as even better student quality products can last a decade or more without significant deterioration.

However, at some point many students will progress to a point where the above criteria no longer apply. They may get good enough to produce work for friends, and get frustrated with the inherent limitations of student quality products. They may wish to start selling art at a flea market or submit to a gallery. Many sales outlets will not accept student quality brands. Students may realise that a better tool or material make life easier, and are more consistent and predictable in quality.

Some will develop a pride in their efforts and demand the best they can get. It is generally recognised that a great product will make the effort needed to work easier, leaving the artist to concentrate on the more important issues of composition, colour, style, the story and more.

Then you need to think about what you use.

As mentioned elsewhere, I have started a project to review a range of products, and where I can I will address many of the above issues to help with your selection.

If you are looking at a particular product and have doubts, send me a message at or add a comment/question to this blog or on our Facebook and I will see if I can help someway.

Until next time . . . Enjoy your art, remember to make time for your family and friends and don’t take it all too seriously, HAVE FUN !

Colin Rayner




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Video Movie Project – Product Reviews

New Product Review Project announced

Shortly I will be embarking on a project to review a range of products relevant to Artists instead of the traditional written word we will be using the medium of Video.

There are a number of steps in making a video that consume large amounts of time . . . but hopefully I will have the first episode in about three weeks.

I will be reviewing not only products that Rebel Art Supplies offers customers, but also anything I can access from your requests, as well as new products that may come my way. It can be a difficult path to tread, as to retain credibility I need to be honest and as accurate and honest in my assessments as I can be. It also requires a methodical approach where applicable to the product.

So if a product just does not stand up (rare in my experience these days) I may say so or at worst just drop the review altogether. It is not in my interest to start a war of words with my customers, my suppliers, supporters or friends . . . sometimes discretion is the honourable path to take.

So if you have any suggestions or recommendations of products just drop me a line at or place a comment on our Facebook or Blog.

I am currently working on several products and it depends which one gets finished first for publication, so I cannot preview any results just yet.

I will keep progress reports coming, but the steps are as follows:

  1. Prepare the studio layout to suit.
  2. Set Up Lighting and sound.
  3. Screen Test and fine tune.
  4. Obtain sample product.
  5. Define a testing procedure and objective of the test.
  6. Take photos and clips of the actual testing procedure and the product.
  7. Film the final commentary and narrative.
  8. Set up an Introduction clip with logo and theme images.
  9. Assemble all the clips into my video editor.
  10. Do a rough edit.
  11. Do a final edit.
  12. Finalise/render the output.
  13. Set up the video file on a designated server and set up links to the video.
  14. Upload the final video.
  15. Publish to the blog and announce on Facebook.

Then all I have to do is wait for the hails of laughter at my dismal efforts (hope not) as well as comments good or bad. I need to resist becoming too defensive, take constructive criticism as it is meant, develop a thick skin for those rare occasions that a knocker gets stuck into me and try to improve each subsequent effort from the feedback.  As you may observe there can be heaps to do, but I hope I am not being too ambitious in my timetable, if so I will let you know in the progress reports.

Until next time . . . Enjoy your art, remember to make time for your family and friends and don’t take it all too seriously, HAVE FUN !

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Remember, photography is also an Art

A camera is just a tool?

When I first came up with the idea of starting a web site selling Art Supplies, one of the main concerns was not specifically about the business, it was the effect the business would have on my interest in painting and art.

I was thinking “would I come home from work and feel painting was just more work?”

To some extent this has been the case and now I tend to paint at weekends and the rare holiday time I get. I found the creative urges were lowest at the end of a long day talking art, thinking art, motivating artists, answering questions about art and so on. I needed to break the cycle somehow. But I still love painting and certainly did not want to abandon it.


Then one day I was looking for inspiration near my home at that time around inner Brisbane and found a lovely little park where a babbling brook was nestling up against a grove of deciduous trees that were just turning to the autumn colours so rare around sub-tropical Brisbane. My thought was “Where is a camera when I need one?” I wanted to capture the moment but as usual did not carry my camera everywhere; it was a big bulky (in those days) Single Lens Reflect NIKON. Mobile phone cameras were not up to it in those days.

The proverbial light globe lit up in my head! Photography is removed from art but still part of it. Cameras are just another tool to be used to gather inspiration. Although there were ample images around various photo sharing web sites I also needed to have that break I was seeking, but without abandoning my art. Photography was that break, yet it would still help me keep my links to painting in the long run.


So began my love affair with photography. It has provided countless images and memories I can use when seeking inspiration for my artwork. It is something that can be done almost any time and in short sessions. Art and painting is something I tend to use up many hours in a session, but some photography sessions are just a few minutes.

OK! Some photography takes significant investment in preparation, for example travel time if a location is planned, and it is easy to get carried away with the technology if you let it get to you.

 But it can easily be achieved by any good quality point and shoot camera. There is no need to go for a top of the line DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflect), heaps of accessories (Flash, Reflectors, tripod etc.) if you are just after inspirational shots to get you painting.

I admit I have collected a range of accessories over the years, but still only use a prosumer camera (That’s a term used to describe any camera that is not a professional Canon or Nikon used by professional full time photographers). I have found most digital cameras these days will give images never dreamed of in the film days, photos cost nothing, can get instant viewable results and rarely have to lose the moment like in the old Film days. You don’t need a slide projector, a photo album or framed prints (But they are nice)

I remember in 1969 I went on a lifetime trip around the outback up from Adelaide through the Flinders Range to Ayers Rock as it was known in those days, onto the Alice and up all the way to Darwin. I was using a trusty Nikon single lens reflect film camera. It had been reliable for some years and I was not thinking about any possible failures. With film, it invariably needs to be processed, either in your home studio, or at a professional lab, that required the film to be posted and returned unless you could find a same day service. Back in those days they did not exist anywhere along the route we were taking. So I would dutifully post away my film (Colour Slides in those days) with a return address back to my Sydney home as I was still travelling and could not guarantee where we would be to pick it up.

About two thirds through the trip, I was lucky enough to find a photographer who offered to process a roll of film for me on the day. Imagine my feeling when the film came back with nothing on it. My trusty Nikon shutter was failing, making the right noises etc. but every shot was underexposed and useless. I still remember this disappointment from time to time.

Digital Cameras are a quantum leap from the old film in quality of images, ease of use, operating cost, purchase price for what you get and instant gratification.

So I now take a good (but small, light, easy to use quickly) point and shoot camera I take everywhere I go to make sure my painting inspiration is continually fed new fodder for the mind. Although a good mobile phone can get reasonable images too in some cases.

Photography is one easy way to get inspiration and material to paint and I find it is just removed far enough from painting to give me the week day break without moving me away from my art.

Remember, Photography is also an art.


Colin Rayner

 Kangaroos often visit the Windhaven Farm where the Rebel Art Supplies warehouse is located. Here they are just 20 metres from the door, on a misty morning in late summer 2013.


YES, I also have an expensive Semi-professional PENTAX single lens reflex camera and a High Definition PANASONIC video camcorder that I use for more serious photography. I have included a few images scattered through this article of my more recent images. These are not from my professional portfolio (I do produce Product photos on a commission basis from time to time). The examples linked are not professional quality but they are helpful in retaining my memories of past living, giving me a relaxing pastime to unwind at the end of the day rather than just vegetating in front of a TV or Computer and I enjoy it. Photography has developed into a very rewarding hobby for me without lessening the desire to paint. 

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Solution to Paint in Tube going hard


How often have you heard that?

It is a common problem which has been made worse by the modern plastic tubes used in many artists quality paints both oil and acrylic. It is particularly prone to happen with student quality paint, cheap Chinese paints and even some notable major brand paints. Many paints dry over time due to the amount of air left in the tube when the cap is put on. I have had customers bring back some cheap Asian brand paints that have gone rock hard in the neck of the tube after just a few months.  Older style tubes were manufactured with a stiff metallic layer inside and tightly adhered to the tube shape as squeezed. Typically when these tubes are squeezed they hold their shape which means that paint stays located at the neck of the tube. However modern plastic tubes while less likely to split and able to take the occasional knock without splitting, are inert thus not affecting the paint even over long periods and are easier to use and extract the paint. However they have a built-in memory for their shape. This means they revert to their original shape potentially leaving air inside the tube.

The old-fashioned paint saver key (shown left) works well with tubes that keep their shape once squeezed. However with the newer plastic tubes a different method is required. One product recently on the market is a MUSEUM brand tube squeezer (shown below) which seems to have solved the problem. It holds the tube horizontal and a roller runs along from the bottom of the tube and moves the paint up to the neck. As well as making the extraction of the paint easier it also means no air is left trapped inside the tube. I have been using water mixable paints for many years, and the brand I originally started with which is from a very famous English stable (that actually invented water miscible oil paint) was thick and hard when new in the tube. I often found after as little as one year paint in the tube was almost unworkable. With the new Weber water mixable Woils I have not yet had this problem, as the paint is much more buttery than the one I used to use and has been lasting several years without issue already. However, I use the museum tube squeezer to get the paint out of the tube as an easy less messy alternative to fingers, and this ensures I leave no air inside the tube just in case.

Costing around six dollars it handles all but the largest tubes, is easily cleaned, and avoids the common trap with some plastic tubes of leaving air in with the paint.

Available at leading art dealers around Australia as well as at the link below:

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