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We should be able to answer your question here faster than we can reply to your email. Below are the most common questions painters have. If your question isn’t addressed please utilize the Search feature on the upper right of our website.



How soon can I varnish with Gamvar?

All Gamvar can be applied when the thickest areas of your painting are thoroughly dry and firm. For thinly painted layers that include fast-drying alkyd mediums, this may be as soon as 3 – 4 weeks. For thicker layers or paintings that contain added drying oils (linseed and/or safflower), this may be closer to the generally-recommended 6 month timeframe. To check if it’s dry, gently press your nail into the thickest part of your painting. If your nail can’t make a dent, you’re ready to varnish.

Gently press thumbnail into oil painting to check if your painting is dry and ready to varnish

I’ve experienced Gamvar beading up on a section of my painting. How can I prevent this?

Some combinations of oil paint and mediums create a “closed” surface resulting in Gamvar beading up. Also, beading up may indicate that too much varnish is being applied at once. Try to cover as much of the painting with as little varnish as possible. A vigorous scrubbing motion when applying Gamvar will help prevent it from beading up. Please refer to the video demonstration in our Varnish section.

How many applications of Gamvar do I need?

All Gamvar varnishes should be applied in a single thin coat. As an exception to this rule, Gamvar Gloss may be applied in two thin coats for a higher gloss finish or if you find you need a more even coating.

Can I apply one type of Gamvar over another?

We have found that it is difficult to control the surface quality when different types of Gamvar are applied on the same painting, one on top of another. (e.g. 1st layer Gamvar Gloss, 2nd layer Gamvar Satin)  It may be best to remove the first coat and re-varnish with the preferred Gamvar formula.


Are Gamblin mediums compatible with one another?

Yes, all Gamblin mediums are compatible with each other so painters can customize the working properties, drying rate and surface quality to support their individual painting technique.

How can I modify the drying rate of my medium?

Gamblin Galkyd and Galkyd Gel are our fastest-drying mediums. Incorporate one of these mediums into paint mixtures to speed drying. Gamblin Safflower Oil is a slow-drying oil medium that can be used to slow the drying rate of fast-drying mediums. Simply add a small amount of Safflower Oil (drops) into your fast-drying medium. For the slowest drying painting medium, make a 1:1 mixture of Safflower Oil/Gamsol.

How can I keep Galkyd from drying out in the bottle?

Secure the cap tightly and store your bottle of Galkyd or Galkyd Lite upside down to ensure no air exchange occurs between the bottle and cap. If you notice a medium thickening in the bottle, add a small amount of Gamsol and shake thoroughly until its original consistency is restored.

store gamblin upside down to prevent drying in the bottle

How do I incorporate painting mediums into my painting?

Please refer to our page on Fat Over Lean.

Painting Techniques

Why have some areas of my painting dried glossy whereas other areas have dried matte? Why do the dark areas look sunken in?

Please refer to our page on Controlling Surface Quality.

What is the best medium for underpainting?

A 1:1 mixture of Galkyd/Gamsol is an excellent painting medium for lean underpainting. The viscosity of this medium is quite fluid, so it will readily thin the oil paint for initial washes/sketches. This lean medium dries quickly to allow for successive layering at a faster rate. Having Galkyd in the mix will increase adhesion and strength of the resulting paint layer vs. using Gamsol alone.

Gamsol and Galkyd mixture for underpainting

mixing gamsol and galkyd 1:1

For a slower-drying underpainting layer, use a1:3 mixture of Refined Linseed Oil/Gamsol.


What is the best primary palette?

In our opinion, the best primary, 3-color palette is Hansa Yellow Medium (or Light), Quinacridone Red, and Phthalo Blue.

Gamblin primary three color palette

What are the differences between the Gamblin Whites?

Please refer to our article, Getting the White Right.

Sizes and Grounds

How can I get the tightest stretch for my cotton or linen support?

We recommend stretching the canvas or linen before applying PVA Size. It is important that canvases are stretched evenly and tightly. PVA Size will tighten a stretched canvas initially when wet. Upon drying, however, the treated canvas may relax somewhat. The stretcher system may have to be keyed out to further increase the stretch of the fabric.

Can I apply Gamblin Ground over acrylic gesso?

Yes. Gamblin Ground may be applied in 1-2 thin coats to an acrylic gesso primed canvas or panel to reduce absorbency and improve color saturation.

What is the drying rate for Gamblin Ground?

Oil Ground requires no more than two thin coats. The first coat should be touch dry and ready for the second coat in 2-4 days. Once the second coat is touch dry, allow the ground to cure for about a week before beginning painting. Cool temperatures and high humidity may extend the dry time further.

Here is a good test to determine if the Ground is dry enough: after five days, lightly sand the surface of the Ground with fine sandpaper. If the Ground powders off without gumming up the sandpaper, it is dry enough to paint on.

It is important that the Ground be applied thinly to achieve these drying times. Please refer to our video demonstration for application tips.

Can I apply Gamblin Ground over an old painting?

While it is possible to use Oil Ground over an old oil painting, our first recommendation is to start with a fresh painting support. If you choose to prime over old paintings, it is important that a good bond is formed between the new ground and the original dry paint layers.

covering an oil painting with Gamblin Ground

If the original oil paint was applied very thinly and the overall appearance is rather dull or matte, you may apply a coat of Oil Ground right over the top. However, if the surface is either shiny or has unwanted texture, it will need to be sanded before applying the Oil Ground.

Protect yourself from all airborne pigments during sanding. Wipe residual dust from the painting with Gamsol and allow to dry before applying the Ground.


Free products

Do you have samples?

Gamblin does not have any samples at this time.

Do you have a sponsorhip program?

Gamblin supports artists through several different channels.

To name a few, we support senior painting students at art schools and universities throughout the US, we support arts organizations and museum conservation laboratories, and through our website and painter support line, we offer painters access to the most current information on oil painting materials and techniques. 

As a small manufacturer, we do not have a sponsorship or samples program for individual artists. Indeed, it would be very difficult to choose from so many talented oil painters making such requests. And if you are ever in Portland, Oregon, please look us up- we would love for you to visit the Gamblin factory.


Do you offer factory tours?

Yes we do. Please fill out the contact form below to schedule a tour.


Is Gamblin hiring?

Yes. We have manufacturing jobs available. If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area please submit a contact form below.

Popular Resources

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Experience color.

For great information about color.


If you have a question about our materials, please note that we have 1-2 Product Technical Support Specialist(s) in the office that work Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm Pacific Standard Time. They are also working artists and have a range of responsibilities here at Gamblin including Quality Assurance and Product Development. Our goal is to get back to you within two business days but please recognize that it may be longer depending on the volume of inquiries. Thank you in advance for your patience.

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