Test-drive: Richeson Oil Paints

From Left to Right: Transparent Marble White, Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Veridian Green, Asphaltum, and Alizarin Crimson.

Last week, I acquired a sample shipment of some oil paints from the Jack Richeson company based out of Kimberly, Wisconsin.

These samples came to me courtesy of Lakeshore Art Supplies, LLC in Sheboygan, WI.

  • Transparent Marble White
  • Titanium White
  • Ultramarine Blue Deep
  • Veridian Green
  • Asphaltum
  • Alizarin Crimson

Before I review what is in front of me, first a little bit of personal history with this product:

I’ve had a mixed experience with this brand in the past. They were the first professional grade oils I had tried after college, so compared to Blick and Utrecht student grade oils, the intensity of the pigments absolutely blew me away. I was in love, except…

The first 1/3 of these tubes were solid and had to be pulled out with a piers. The remaining paint is extremely thick and difficult to squeeze from the tube.

Unfortunately, two of the colors I had ordered 6 years ago arrived nearly solidified in the tube- and as it happened they were the most expensive colors I had ordered- cadmium red pale, and cobalt violet light. I could chalk this up to the fact that I ordered them from Blick in the middle of the summer, and who knows how long the paints sat in their warehouse or distribution center before I came along. Regardless, this was the farthest consideration on my mind when, in the middle of painting outdoors, I would have to find some level ground to set my palette and paint tubes down and literally step on them with all the weight of my full figure to get any worthwhile paint to come out. 
This put a damper on my enthusiasm for this brand of paint manufactured in my own state, a mere 70 miles from my home. I really wanted to love them. But alas, I took to Gamblin, Holbein, and Williamsburg instead.

Moving on.

Richeson Oils use a blend of Linseed and Safflower oil to carry the pigment load. The inclusion of Safflower oil likely reduces the amount of yellowing that linseed oil has been known to cause as paintings age.

This selection that I have before me today is beautiful. Super fresh and directly shipped from the plant, I had absolutely no oil separation when squeezing the first blobs onto my palette.

I was curious about the asphaltum and the transparent Marble White, since I’ve never used those colors before.

I was surprised at the range of colors I ended up mixing from this limited palette of pigment.

The asphaltum is a beautiful transparent brown that, when mixed with white, makes a nice yellowish beige. On its own I wouldn’t have suspected it to work so well in sunset imagery, but when accompanied with the coolness of the crimson and the violets and blue-greens in the composition, it worked quite well.

As for the consistency of the paint, it is everything I have come to expect from good quality oil paints. The pigments are ground very fine. None of the colors were gritty.

The only tube I took some issue with was the Titanium White. I noticed right away that it was very soft. When mixing, the tinting strength was considerably weaker than what I experienced from other brands. One look at the back of the tube and sure enough, it’s a blend of PW4 (zinc) and PW6 (titanium). So, the label is misleading in this case. It does make a nice mixing white but it would be nice if the labeling reflected the blend.

As for the transparent marble white, I’m not sure what other painters use it for but I enjoyed using it as an extender to pick up remnants of color from my palette, instead of having to mix more of that color for small touch-ups. I also like mixing it with my medium to thicken it out just a little bit. Maybe it is nice for glazing techniques.

At any rate, overall, I would consider buying this brand once again based on my experience with this batch of paints. Having recently toured the plant last November, my desire to support this local company recently grew stronger. They make many great quality Artist’s materials right at the plant- easels, taborets, cradled panels, palettes, canvas stretchers, drawing pads- and are one of few U.S. suppliers of Unison Pastels, which are probably one of the best quality pastel lines in the world. 

This sample batch of oils gave me the hope I was looking for, that maybe my order from 6 years ago was a complete fluke and that I can go back to trusting these oil paints made right in my home state.

If you are looking for traditional Artist’s oil colors at a reasonable price, Richeson is worth a try. 

I am not being paid to say this.

Thanks for reading.

What are your preferred brands of art materials? I’d love to hear all about them!


Tuesday How To: Priming Over an Oil Painting.

Every artist at some point has a scrap pile, burn pile, do-over stack, or dark corner relegated to castaway works.

I have my fair share of those. Some are my own atrocities, others are old abandoned student works from my time in college, or the occasional thrift store find – paintings that I collected for their scrap value in canvas and stretchers bars.

Well, those horrible creatures lurking in dark corners haven’t been paying their share of the studio rent, so it’s time to put them to work.

The thing is, priming over an acrylic painting is not a big deal. You can find gesso just about everywhere that has an arts and crafts section. But to cover an oil painting is a little trickier because regular gesso will not form a proper bond  with the surface of the oil painting, and eventually your hard work will come chipping and flaking off over time. This is why you must use an oil-based ground or primer to cover up an old oil painting.

Make a used oil painting surface new again by following these simple steps:

What you will need:

  • An oil painting that you’ve salvaged for the canvas and stretchers
  • 150 grit sandpaper 
  • Can of Oil Ground (mine is made by Gamblin)
  • Gamsol or other Odorless Mineral Spirits
  • A shallow bowl or dish that is solvent-proof and only for use in the studio (I prefer to repurpose tuna cans because they are wide and shallow)
  • Pallette knife (or butter knife, only for studio use )
  • Hog or Synthetic Hog Brush with firm springy feel, about 1 inch wide or whatever is best to cover the size canvas you have.
  • Patience – you must let the ground dry for about 1 week before you can start your painting.

1. Use 150 grit sandpaper to scuff the surface of the oil painting to be covered. Run your hand over the sanded surface to make sure the canvas feels smooth and any brush strokes or texture has been smoothed evenly. Use a clean dry rag to wipe away any excess dust when you are done.

2. At an estimated 2:1 ratio, scoop out some oil ground with a clean knife and place it in your bowl. For 2 parts oil ground, we’re adding 1 part Gamsol or Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS) to the bowl and mixing them to a brushable consistency. 

3. Coat the painting until it is covered. If you like, you may add a 2nd coat after the first layer tacks up a bit. See the directions on your can for recommended drying times.

You now have a painting surface that will be ready to use in about 1 week.

You may add oil color to your ground if you wish to tint your 2 coat. This could affect drying time. 

Gamblin’s oil ground is faster drying than some other brands, and uses an alkyd resin instead of linseed oil, so it has great adhesion properties for long term durability and conservation.

Panel Production Lab

Cost: $40.00 per person, per session. Includes all necessary materials. 

Session 1: Wednesday August 24th Session 2: Wednesday September 7th

Location: Liz Ann Lange Art, (inside Landmark Suites) 604 Erie Ave., Lower Level Sheboygan WI 53081.

Using MDF, pine boards, and tools and equipment on site, you will have the opportunity to draft, cut, and construct your own cradled panels to be used as a surface for painting. (You will still need to prime them before using as a painting surface.)

Each attendee will be provided up to 2 sheets of MDF measuring 2×4 feet. 

You may determine your own sizes you wish your panels to be.

You will draft cut lines, operate power hand saws to cut the panels to size, check measurements, miter the cradle boards using a tabletop circular saw, and glue and clamp your panels. If your work cannot be finished within the given time of the lab, we will set up a time and day for you to return and finish the work at your leisure for no extra charge.

Various saws and some safety gear such as safety glasses, dust masks, and foam ear plugs will be provided. No loose clothing, scarves, jewelry or open toed shoes please. Long hair should be worn tied back neatly. 

Please remember : Your safety is your primary responsibility. 

*Always be extremely cautious when operating power tools. I will not be accountable for any personal injuries in the studio. Injuries are a result of blatant disregard for common sense safety practices. You will be expected to sign a statement regarding this in order to participate.*

Space is extremely limited so that everyone will have quality time with the tools and equipment.

If you are interested in this lab or have interest in future opportunities like this one, please contact me at:


Some thoughts on my current painting…

I’m stubbornly and slowly – very slowly – applying the last areas of color to my last big painting for the show that opens this Saturday, which we will be installing tomorrow night.

This particular painting has been a little bit weird for me, but not in a bad way. If I didn’t have the approaching deadline staring me in the face, I probably would have stalled out and let it sit to the side for weeks, or months even.

Nevertheless, I plowed through my awkward blocks and am very close to finishing.

I snapped this detail shot because I really liked where the painting was taking me at the time:


In the end, what I like about this painting is that I felt free to just make things up as I went along. I can’t explain why that part of the experience was more apparent with this painting as opposed to others, but I do know that I felt some personal growth, as a painter, while working things out.

Some in-progress images:


The finished painting along with other new works will be on exhibit from May 9th through June 13th at:

Frank Juarez Gallery,
1109 North 8th Street,
Sheboygan, WI, 53081.
Open Saturdays, 10am-4pm, and by appointment.

On Decision-making

The Original Landscape Photo
ChinatownBuffet2 24x28
The Cropped Version

“Uugh, which one should I paint?”

I loathe decisions. OK, so they’re part of life, but that doesn’t mean they come naturally to me all the time.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had difficulty with choices, mostly because I prefer to analyze the entire situation before making up my mind, no matter what.
The countless possible outcomes are hard to choose from when they all are fairly equal in standing, or when there are more positive outcomes than negative consequences among those varied possible outcomes. Continue reading “On Decision-making”

Upcoming Exhibition: “In Tandem” opens May 9th.

Tires, oil on birch panel, 24in x 28in Liz Ann Lange
Tires, oil on birch panel, 24in x 28in
Liz Ann Lange

This and other work will be exhibited May 9th – June 13th at Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

From the Updates section of the Frank Juarez Gallery website:

In Tandem

May 9 – June 13, 2013

Reception for the Artists: May 16,  5-8pm with an artist talk at 6pm.

In Tandem will feature works from two artists who share similar formative backgrounds, influences, and environments expressed through varying degrees of interpretation.

While attending Lakeland College from 2006 to 2010, Liz Ann Lange and Sara Willadsen both began incorporating architecture and views of Sheboygan County within their studio practices.

Working primarily in oils, Lange has continued to build upon her direct explorations of the community’s hidden spaces and unglorified tableaus, documenting her observations without bias or pretenses.

Willadsen employs mixed media to indirectly reference these same scenes by breaking them down to their formal parts and putting more focus on the physical materials that make up the work itself, resulting in suggestions of invented spaces.

Through color, composition, and perspective, Lange and Willadsen both create works guided by structural characteristics and ephemera encountered in the Sheboygan area.