Bold and Bright Van Gogh Oil Paints by Royal Talens

What’s in a name? ponders Juliet in Shakespspeare’s famous play.  As it turns out quite a lot actually.  For a start it would be a pity to call a rose a clivia, for example.  Imagine the disappointment on Valentine’s Day.  So when Dutch paint manufacturer Royal Talens came out with the Van Gogh brand of paints they had to meet certain expectations.

Vincent Van Gogh is an iconic figure in art history.  His paintings conjure up specific ideas about colour and expressiveness.  Bold brushwork with thick juicy paint.  Bright sunny colours.  Intense hues straight out of the tube and onto the canvas.  Do the Van Gogh oil paints deliver on the promise?  I decided to try out these paints and find out.

Van Gogh Review
Van Gogh Oil Paint tubes

Brilliant paint selection

A quick glance at the Van Gogh oils colour chart reveals a bias to warm and intense colours.  I always associate yellow with Van Gogh. It is the colour of light after all.  The colour chart shows at least eleven varieties of yellow paint.  It is the same thing with reds too.

In addition to cadmiums you will find Azo pigments like Azo Yellow.  Azo refers to synthetic pigments and dyes that are intense in colour.  The Azo oil paints appear to be slightly more transparent than cadmiums yet retain strong tinting ability.  I found the Azo Yellow Lemon and Azo Yellow medium to mix well with white and still retain warmth. In short if you want rich, deep and intense warm colours then Van Gogh paints have them for you.

Incidentally these Azo colours are safer than traditional cadmiums.  They are also the only substitute that I have found for the strength of cadmiums.

Feeling the blues?

You will soon cheer up with the variety of cool blues in the colour range.  I particularly enjoyed using the Cobalt Blue/Ultramarine combination.  How about Cerulean Blue/Phthalo for an exciting colour?

All the other colours you would expect are present in the range.  Even a safflower based titanium white.  Something usually found in professional quality paints only.

Royal Talens Van Gogh
Van Gogh Oil Paint tubes squeezed

Paint performance

How do the paints perform?  A good indication of paint quality is the appearance of the paint when squeezed out of the tube.  First impressions are of an oily paint with evidence of oil separating from the pigment.  This is a good thing.  An intense colour with a distinct soft, buttery consistency indicates less binders and fillers.  You do not want to see the paint looking like dull toothpaste.

The paints are typically easy to work with a bristle brush.  You can easily mix the paints by dragging the paint around with the brush on your palette.  I did not require a medium to soften the paints.  I prefer to avoid mediums and want my paints as desaturated as possible.  Van Gogh paints are very good in this respect.  Pigment strength is above average for paints in this price range too.

The texture of the paint is fine and buttery as you would expect with good quality paints in this sector.

Wet into wet

Another test is to use the paint in layers wet over wet.  The paint must be thick enough to be painted over wet layers and hold its shape. No mixing into soft layers underneath or sagging or clinging to the brush.  The paints performed perfectly in this regard.  You can build up thick texture with confidence.  Vincent would not be disappointed I’m sure.

Oil Painting
Van Gogh Oil Colour Painting

Light fastness

Royal Talens claim good light fastness and I expect that the paints perform to international standards in this regard.  I have not noticed any fading when the paints have dried.  I typically use retouch varnish on dry paintings in any event.  But even without varnish the colours still appear strong and vibrant.

Who should use Van Gogh oil paints?

Just where do these paints fit in?  Royal Talens have their professional artist quality paints in their Rembrandt range. The Van Gogh paints slot in below that as a fine quality student paint.  Student paint is a wide category that unfortunately encompasses many inferior paints too.  I do believe that there is no such thing as cheap and cheerful. Only cheap and nasty.  Fortunately Van Gogh paints are excellent student paints that can be used by beginners and experienced artists too.

My overall impression is that Van Gogh oil paints are good value for money and will give most oil painters a rewarding painting experience.

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Malcolm Dewey
Malcolm Dewey

The Paint Pro – Malcolm Dewey

Malcolm Dewey is a full-time artist living in South Africa. Together with a loose brushwork style Malcolm’s paintings are filled with light, colour and movement.
Malcolm’s favourite painting mediums are oils, acrylics and watercolour. He aims to describe his painting with an economy of shape, but without compromising on paint and generous brushwork.


Instagram: @malcolmdeweyfineart

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