Take Your Painting Further. Gamblin FastMatte Alkyd Oil Colors

October 2012

We developed FastMatte Alkyd Oil Colors so painters could stay in the flow of their painting session and take their work further, faster than ever before.

All new materials we develop flow from dialogue with the Gamblin community of painters. Over 80% of the artists we work with do some form of underpainting – and no one likes watching paint dry while trying to hold onto an idea. Also, many of you have been asking us for easier ways to achieve a contemporary, matte surface. And many artists want to use color and texture boldly, without having to wait for days before continuing their work.

The fast drying rate of FastMatte means painters can stay in the flow of their painting session longer, with layering and mark-making possibilities beyond traditional oils. The consistent drying rate across the FastMatte palette means painters can return to a dry surface the following day.

fastmatteFastMatte’s surface gives colors a deep, soft luster that speaks directly to the viewer. Never before have oil painters been able to create a consistent, matte surface with such ease. The matte surface gives dry paint layers a subtle tooth which beautifully grabs paint from the brush or knife.

The purpose of this Studio Note is to introduce FastMatte Alkyd Colors and share some ideas and techniques that may be helpful to your painting process.

Andrea Harris: Rich texture. Lustrous matte surfaces. Made with ease.


andrea-harris-detailAndrea Harris’ ongoing series of forest paintings convey expressive mark-making through rich textures of generously applied oil color mixed with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium. The compatibility of FastMatte colors with these materials gives this Chicago-based painter another tool to achieve the velvety, matte surfaces that speak directly to the viewer.

“As a painter, I have always preferred matte. I fell in love with FastMatte because it truly matches my artistic intent.”

Out in the field, Andrea applies the same expressive approach to painting. On a recent trip to New Mexico, Andrea utilized the FastMatte colors to capture the textural qualities of the landscape. “FastMatte is ALWAYS on my palette for plein air work. I truly feel empowered by the working characteristics under the brush and knife. When painting in plein air, I use FastMatte directly from the tube with no medium. Strong mark-making is essential to my painting technique, and FastMatte allows me to capture marks effortlessly and without slowing down my process.”


Jonathan Simon: Traditional techniques, without waiting and without compromise.

jonathan-simonThe FastMatte colors have become a permanent fixture on the palette of Alabama-based figurative painter Jonathan Simon. Utilizing the colors’ fast drying rate and balanced color palette, Jonathan establishes the value variations and skin tones in the early stages of his painting process.

Jonathan starts each painting by creating a wash of FastMatte Transparent Earth Red over the entire canvas. He immediately works into the surface with a cloth – working reductively to define the light areas of the composition. Jonathan establishes the darker values by incorporating FastMatte Chromatic Black into the Transparent Earth Red.

“Using the FastMatte allows me to paint much faster. I like working wet into wet for the day. The Fast Matte stays open long enough to do this, but dries fast enough to have a dry paint surface to paint over the following day. This initial layer establishes a strong drawing and a strong sense of value to build on.”

jonathan-simon-figure-2Once the value relationships are established, Jonathan uses a FastMatte palette of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Naphol Scarlet, Alizarin Permanent, Transparent Earth Red, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue and Chromatic Black to capture the skin tones and turn the form of the figure. Once these layers are dry, Jonathan switches to Gamblin’s traditional oil colors and Galkyd Slow Dry painting medium, as these materials support the subtle blending of color and fine detail work toward the completion of his painting.

“The previous layers in FastMatte give me a great surface for the oils to adhere to, as well as giving me an underlining layer of paint that allowed the final layers to go on much quicker.”


Michael Chesley Johnson: Mark-making beyond traditional oils.

Michael Chesley Johnson creates fresh, painterly landscapes on site, working mostly in the American Southwest and Canadian Maritimes. Working alla prima, Michael appreciates the fast-drying rate of the FastMatte colors, as they keep his colors rich and clean. This allows him to create a visual vibrancy in his work through simultaneous contrast – layering complementary colors one on top of the other.

Michael’s FastMatte palette consists of Hansa Yellow Medium, Napthol Scarlet, Transparent Earth Red, Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green, Titanium White and Chromatic Black.


michael-chesley-johnson-snowy-heights-detailOn the use of black in his palette, Michael states, “Although some painters avoid black, I use it with relish. Its main purpose is not to darken color but to grey it. Chromatic Black is a very handy when using a palette with intense, modern pigments and you are painting landscapes, which contain a great deal of muted color.”

In addition to working in oils, Michael is an accomplished pastel artist. Michael utilizes this dry medium to create a rich visual language, incorporating passages of “broken” color and mark-making. The unique working properties and faster drying rate of the FastMatte colors enable him to continue these painterly effects in his oil paintings, yielding qualities that are visually analogous to his pastel work.

“Not only do the FastMatte colors dry quickly, which make things go faster, but they also gave the surface a beautiful texture. Because the paint increases in tack during the painting session, I can lay down broken color quite easily. The final result resembles my pastels, in which I use broken color to great effect. Here’s a detail of “Snowy Heights” so you can see how the color breaks. It’s delicious!”

Jeff Legg: Capturing light through color and texture


The paintings of Jeff Legg are woven with ceramic vases, dried leaves, cut fruit – and yes, even the occasional dead fish. These richly colored objects are set upon a classical stage of subdued ochres and umbers, yielding a fresh approach to traditional painting. Capturing the textural variations of these objects is a primary consideration for Jeff. Whether created by brush or knife, a Jeff Legg still life is a landscape of ridges and valleys, scrapes and impastos – in which he blends bold mark-making with subtle, luminous glazes.

The fast drying rate of the FastMatte colors allows Jeff to build textures more quickly, allowing him to take his painting further and apply glaze layers without having to wait or compromise. “I like the tack of this paint as it begins to set up during my painting session. It allows different and interesting effects with textures and scumbling.”

Jeff’s FastMatte palette consists of: Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Permanent, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black, and Titanium White.

Jamee Linton-Kelly: Colors that keep pace with the flow of your ideas.

jamee-linton-kellyJamee Linton-Kelly is Gamblin’s Product Specialist and consults with painters daily on our materials.

In a recent series of abstract paintings, Jamee uses multiple tools when applying color to achieve variety in mark-making.

“I love the working properties of the FastMatte colors, they allow me to apply thick impasto applications with a palette knife and they hold the marks as the paint dries. It is an excellent way to build up texture while yielding quick dry times for the subsequent layers.”

Jamee will also allow the colors to partially dry then scrape into the paint layers to reveal hints of the colors below.

Jamee creates her initial paint layers with the FastMatte colors and a 1:1 mixture of Galkyd and Gamsol to thin the colors as needed. Sometimes the abstract pieces are alla prima, other times there is a build up of multiple layers. “I love that these colors are great for underpainting, but if my piece happens to be finished in one session I can varnish the matte surface with Gamvar to achieve a beautiful gloss finish that looks as though it was created with traditional oils. The FastMatte colors are so versatile.”

Another way the Jamee uses the FastMatte colors is to create custom dry times for her colors. “I love Titanium-Zinc White – it is a staple on my palette. However, it dries either too fast or too slow for my process. I use the FastMatte Titanium White and mix it with Titanium Zinc White in varying proportions to create the ideal working properties and dry time for each specific piece.”

“I also mix the FastMatte colors, like Indian Yellow and Sap Green, into Gamblin’s traditional versions of these colors to speed up the drying time or reduce gloss without effecting color intensity or transparency. Painting mediums are great and I use them all the time, but sometimes I prefer not to thin the color with a medium. Instead, I use the FastMatte colors as a sort of ‘quick dry medium,’ helping me to speed up the process while allowing me to retain the textual qualities of the color.”


For more information on our palette of FastMatte colors, and for a video on working with FastMatte, please visit usonline.

On behalf of all twenty of us here at Gamblin, thank you for supporting an independent and American colorhouse. We are honored to work with you and look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to email us or give me a call at 503.235.1945 x12.


Scott Gellatly
Product Manager
Gamblin Artists Colors

Featured Artists’ Websites:

Andrea Harris: www.andreaharris.com
Jonathan Simon: www.jtsimonfineart.com
Michael Chesley Johnson: www.michaelchesleyjohnson.com
Jeff Legg: www.jefflegg.com
Jamee Linton-Kelly: www.jameelinton.com

website - Dogpaw Studio