Langridge oil paints are not as widely known as Winsor & Newton or Old Holland paints yet they are highly rated by professional artists all over the world. The paints are hand made by David Coles in his factory in Australia. Inspired by the colours of the land they are vibrant and honest colours. They are a professional paint, and belong in the top range of oil paints. The colours are beautiful, the textures are honest, and they are a joy to work with. I have spent the past 6 months working with these paints and can now finally report back to you. Here is my review.
A New Discovery
It's not uncommon to come across an art material you've never tried before. There is so much out there after all. But it is not that common to find an oil paint brand you've never even heard of. Still I had to admit to David Coles, the master paint maker who founded and runs Langridge Artists Colours, just that. But some Googling soon fixed my ignorance as I found Langridge Artists Colours were a highly regarded oil paint brand from Australia. When I received a fantastic parcel full of yummy colours from down under I could not wait to try them.
Although I was keen to try and tell you about these paints I must admit it has taken a while to be able to write this. Some of my time was taken up with family life recently, which slowed down my painting time. I also decided to really give these paints a proper go. I didn't want to just paint a picture, or try out some colour swatches and tell you how I found them. Instead I decided to just use the paints, as normal, in my studio. So from then on I painted with Langridge paints.
Of course I added a few colours from other brands if and when I needed them. But overall I have been painting with Langridge colours for 6 months. So this is the reason this review has taken so long to come together!
Before I describe the actual paint a little introduction to Langridge seems in order.
What is Langridge Oil Colour?
Langridge Artists Colours was founded by David Coles in Melbourne and is named after the street where Coles had his first paint factory. David is British (and went to art school in Bristol, very near to where I live) but moved to Australia to start up his business. As with many entrepreneurs it took many years of hard graft to get where he is now. Although the dream was always to produce his own paints, he started off with mediums, varnishes and grounds. In 2011 his oil paint first came to the market. Langridge oils is therefore probably the youngest oil paint brand currently available! But just because it is young, it does not mean that it is inexperienced.
David learned a lot of his craft while working in London at the historic paint shop L. Cornelissen and Son which specialise in pigments for a wide range of uses. He went on the learn his craft on the job and is now a master paint maker. (If you have never visited Cornelissen's art shop, you must as it is one of the most gorgeous art materials shop in the world)
David's paints are honest paints and you realise that when you work with them. David describes it as the 'blood and guts physicality' of the colours. Each pigment has its own characteristics, its own feel and texture, and work a little differently. Many other brands aim to have all their paints behave similarly. They do this purposefully: colours feel and work in a similar way to enhance the ease of use. Artists will know what to expect when they open a tube of Old Holland paint. Langridge oils are not like this. One colour will be grittier than another, some will be buttery, and some stiff, depending on the pigments used.
On each tube of paint these characteristics are described. The consistency is set as 'soft butter', 'soft', 'stiff', 'butter', 'dense' etc. This is really helpful when choosing your paints but it is also really nice to paint with oils that feel this honest. It really gives a sense of working with colours that are much closer to the original pigment.
Langridge paints are honest paints, not just in their handling but also in their labelling. Plenty of brands are reluctant to list the pigments or binders used in their paints, but Langridge is not one of them. Each tube provides useful info such as the pigments used, lightfastness, type of pigment (natural, synthetic etc), the oil vehicle (linseed or safflower oil), transparency, consistency, and even a drying rate. I know of no other paint, except Michael Harding, that puts this much info on their tubes.
Langridge oil paints very much focus their colours on single-pigment colours. Of course when the range expanded some mixes did enter the range but they always have their eyes on the purest pigment.
Their colours reflect the colours of Australia: they are vibrant and strong. They set themselves apart with this as many Northern paint brands are European and reflect the much greyer light of the the Northern hemisphere. Yet this doesn't mean these colours are unsuitable for Northern painters like me! I love the honest nature of these oils. Many of Langridge's new colours focus on modern 21st century pigments and I get the impression that that is where Coles sees the future; modern pigments that are lightfast, bright and intense.
The paints are beautiful. They are fairly fluid (perfect for me) but you'll need a medium if you are after very thick brush strokes or even an impasto effect. I paint thinly so these paints are great. They are not as fluid as Vasari but they seem more fluid than, for example, Winsor & Newton and the fairly stiff Old Holland. Some colours are more stiff than others, however, as I explained above.
Each colour really has its own characteristics. I can imagine you might find it annoying that the colours are not behaving consistently (I thought I would!) but I found it no problem at all. It is quite nice to realise that Yellow Ochre has a different consistency than Unbleached Titanium. Somehow it feels like you are painting more with the true honest pigments, with earth and fire, dirt and grit. It's got character, that's for sure.
Some of my favourite colours (from the selection that I have) are:
- Yellow Ochre: many yellow ochres are a bit stiff and pasty, this one is lovely and smooth
- Quinacridone Burnt Orange: beautiful rusty tint, a little transparent, makes lovely soft skin tones, subtle hues etc.
- Burnt Sienna: a strong and opaque hot colour, makes lovely pinks and greys, warms up anything.
- Quinacridone Crimson: purple-ish red, juicy berries, hot fuchsia pinks, a little transparent.
- Unbleached Titanium: beautiful warm grey colour, I use these colours a lot. Makes great skin tones, grey colours, mud colours and other subtle shades. This one is particularly stiff, even a bit sticky in consistency (as is Titanium, which is the reason I don't like Titanium much).
- Prussian Blue: I really like this blue. Many Prussians are incredibly dominant and gritty and this one is nicely smooth. Like all Prussians it will take forever to get it off your brush and it is a colour to use in limited doses.
- Raw Umber: lovely neutral brown, great soft consistency, makes some lovely mixes.
The paints mix well, spread very well, and I like the colours very much. They are pure and rich, yet I can still create muted paintings without wasting paint while trying to tone things down.
I don't use large quantities of paint and so I have enough Langridge to keep me going for quite a long time and I am sure I will. There is no reason for me to put them aside. I like working with them and they are easy to mix with the other brands I use (Vasari, Mussini, Michael Harding amongst others).
I can surely recommend Langridge Oils!
They are in a similar quality and higher price range as comparable professional oil painting brands. Langridge paints are for everyone of course, but the quality and characteristics puts them firmly in the professional range. They are great for paint ‘nerds’ who like to get into the nitty-gritty of pigments and binders, for purists who enjoy seeing the different characteristics of different pigments, and for painters who love incredibly high quality and don’t mind paying for it. Although some other brands come close in this approach I don’t think there is another brand that celebrates the diversity of pigments as Langridge does.
This is on my wish list for sure! David Coles has written a book about colour and pigment and it will be published later this year. It looks gorgeous and I want one!
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