Thursday, April 30, 2009

This titanium white is my favorite white and a great buy!

Whistler, "Little white girl" image:

Usually I choose a subject and beat on it for a week or so. However yesterday I was checking out the prices of paint at the big mail order art suppliers and I noticed the prices on some of the common whites had gone up. So I think I will give you some advice on white. What follows is only an opinion, but some surprising things stood out at me so much that I decided to write this post.

I will restrict this discussion to titanium whites. I am fond of Flake (lead ) white but it is growing harder to find and I am reticent to advise you to use lead, as it is poisonous. A lot of your colors are poisonous but lead has been the focus of so much attention I will leave it out of our discussion for now. I personally think the very best white is about 2 parts flake with about 1 part titanium.

I buy my paint from RGH. A link to their site is in my sidebar. They are a very small paint maker in Albany, New York. I like their paint and it is affordable. I buy it in big cans and tube my own. If you want to know more about that, in the first month of this blog I did a a post on tubing paint. The first thirty or so posts were on materials. I am attempting to download what I know about painting onto this blog and it seemed sensible to begin with materials.

Since most of you buy your paint in tubes.That is what I am going to examine now. I recommend Jerrys artarama , but there are other fine mail order houses selling paint also. I do not recommend your buying paint from the mall outlets and craft supply stores. They are often 40 to 50% more expensive than mail order even after you figure in your shipping. The prices I am using in this post are from Jerrys. I don't think you will find other suppliers significantly cheaper on many things. If you do, let me know, please.

There are a bunch of different paints available and I think all of the professional lines are acceptable. None of the student grades are. Within the field of professional quality paints there is a range from good to super premium. There are also different tastes in paint. I will tell you what I like in titanium's and the one brand that stands out to me as a great bargain.

Old Holland, 125 mls costs $26.73 or about 21 cents a ml. That's a very high quality and expensive super premium paint. I won't spend that. If you can, this is a great white. I personally find Old Holland paint to actually have more pigment in it than I want. I like a looser paint. That is definitely a matter of opinion and many would disagree with me on that.

Rembrandt titanium costs $16.58 for a 150 ml. tube or 11 cents a ml. I personally don't like this white, it seems too fluffy to me. Like its whipped or something. I like their other colors but not their white.

Winsor and Newton costs $21.60 for 200 mls. or 10 cents a ml. that's a good price for an excellent white. I would say thats a great choice at its current price.

Gamblin cost $20.21 cents for 150 ml. tube That's 13 cents per ml. I can't see why you would choose this over the Winsor Newton . I think of Gamblin as being a professional quality paint but not so fine that I would pay a premium to have it, rather than Winsor Newton. Perhaps you know something I don't, am I missing something? Let me know in the comments if you think I am.

Blockx titanium costs $52.65 for a 200 ml. tube or 26 cents a mil. What are they kidding? If you are married to a thoracic surgeon this might be a good paint for you. But I wont spend over $ 50.00 a tube for white. I use a lot of white.

Grumbachers, soft titanium white is $13.26 for a 150 ml. tube or 8 cents a ml. That's a great buy on a classic paint that once owned the American market. Good buy. But not tonight's big winner.

Weber Permalba white is $8.49 for a 150 ml. tube or 5 cents a ml. That's a pretty good deal too, but not everybody is going to like Permalba. I think of it as a novelty act. It has a peculiar stringy (long) handling that I sometimes like and sometimes hate. You may want to try a tube and see if you like it. It has been around a long time and some fine painters have loved it. Odd stuff, weird plastic tube that I KNOW I don't like. It can be bought in quantity for an even better price. If price is your top consideration Permalba is for you. It works and it is a quality paint for a very low price.

Sennelier Extra Fine sells for $29.29 for a 200 ml. tube That works out to 14 and1/2 cents a ml. This is a nice white and I am as I said, fond of French paint however, it costs three times as much as the next paint on my list, which is tonight's winner of the Stapleton Kearns blogs' authors' choice award.

Lefranc & Bourgeois titanium white costs $13.70 for a 250 ml. tube
That works out to about 5 and1/2 cents a ml. I think this is a great buy. I like it better than any other white on this list at any price. This stuff has the greatest handling of any white, in my opinion. Now keep in mind I like a French style white, that is a somewhat oily, slippery white. I like the look of the brushwork I get from this paint. I think this is the white to use and it is sold at a great price besides. I recommend you use Lefranc and Bourgeois titanium white.

I am going to do another critique of a readers image, so please send me an image of something you have made, I will probably choose a landscape, but not necessarily, lets see what you've got. You can send it to me at I will photoshop your signature off of the piece and I will tell no one whose work I am critiquing.
See you all tomorrow.


Bob Carter said...

Talking about whites is a little bit like talking about wine. I agree with you on some of the paints you mention that I have used. Although I use Rembrandt colors exclusively, I don't use their white either. I prefer a mixed white, but Permalba (which is a mixed white) is way too oily. My best-buy in white is Utrecht mixed white, which often goes on super-sale. It is actually too stiff, but I routinely use Gruppe's trick to get the consistency I want. He would add medium to his white (which was zinc) and whip it up to his preferred consistency. My modified version of his medium is one part stand oil and four parts OMS (Gruppe used turpentine). But now I'm going to have to try LeFranc & Bourgeois. (As always, your posts get me thinking in new directions.)

Unknown said...


About 3 years ago I did the big test on Titanium White Brands.

I bought..Rembrandt, Old Holland , W&N , Gamblin , Utrecht , Daniel Smith , Sennelier , Williamsburg.

I ended liking W&N the best for my way of painting.

I am also fond of Williamsburgs unbleached Titanium White. I will order L&B on my next Jerry's. I made the big switch from Daniel Smith to Jerry's after I saw the big discounts.

Unknown said...

How would you compare LeFranc & Bourgeois Titanium to RGH's? At $13.95 for a 250ml tube, it's just a fraction of a cent per mil more. Just curious, because I may try RGH on your previous recommendation and can save on shipping that way.

mick mcginty said...

Have you ever tried Gamblin's Flake White replacement white? It's got a great sticky feel and strong body instead of the creamy softness of others. I haven't used anything else since finding it and wished I could find other colors with the same properties.

jeff said...

I use Williamsburg, Blockx, and Old Holland.

The Blockx I bought on sale from Jerry's I think it was 15 or 20% off, which prompted me to buy it. It's excellent paint but for that price it should be. It's now to expansive I bought it for less than $40 a year or so ago.

Williamsburg is moderate in price and it is a thicker mix close to OH but not as stiff. Right now it's $20.97 for 150 ml at Jerry's.

I also mix my own which when I have the time to do gives me the best results. It's also the cheapest way to go. I use Walnut oil.

I also use Flake white which I like the best, myself and I also mix it, 50/50 is my usual mix though I sometimes 2 to 1 Titanium to Flake.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have had the same problem with Utrecht. I have actually had it seize when I beat alkyd medium into it.. I also bought a quart that was real thick in the plastic tub when I opened it. Utrecht used to be OK quality for a low price. Their paint is OK but their price is no longer so low. Retail they remain competitive though.

Stapleton Kearns said...


If I had to choose from that list and you were picking up my paint bills, I would use the Sennelier.
I like french paint,it is slippery.
I however prefer the Lefranc to all of them.Even the old Holland.

Stapleton Kearns said...


I have been using the RGH because I buy it a half gallon at a tine. I prefer the Lefranc to it also, but I have been buying the RGH and I like it well enough. I also use the Lefranc. The next paint order I do will be Lefranc white. Everything else remains RGH.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have noticed that they make one. I am happy with the real flake I use now. When that becomes unavailable I will probably just use Lefranc white. I will try a tube though when I get a chance.

Stapleton Kearns said...


I won't pay $20.00 for a 150 ml. tube of white.When I am on a painting trip I can use a tube like that every two days,sometimes faster.if I am working huge.
I like Blokx, but I won't pay for it. They make a nice cad. yellow. They used to be cheaper, it seems like they recently went up a lot.Perhaps it has to do with the exchange rates with the Euro.

jeff said...

Block has become very expensive.
I hear you about the cost.
I also find that the stiffer whites can be cut with good results with medium or oil.

LeFranc & Bourgeois is the cheapest and they make good paint I will need to try them.

I used that brand and W&N years ago but I migrated away from both.

I don't use Gamblin's paint much at all due to their crusade against lead white. I also am not crazy about the consistency. W&N is a better paint in that range.

RGH is better then both and in the same range, I have a few colors and it's a very good paint for the money.

Jean Spitzer said...

I'm going to have to order some LeFranc. It sounds like it would work well for my painting and I can't beat the price. Thanks for the tip.

L said...

Cool blog- I'm looking forward to browsing the rest of your posts. -L