TOOLS OF THE TRADE ~ Paint September 05 2015

 Living in Trentham, Victoria I can’t help but be inspired by the seasons. Each so distinct, in colour and mood. 

This year I had grand plans to commence a series of landscapes inspired by Trentham’s winter. The series entitled Winterscape Blue conjures the mood and beauty of deepest winter. Greys leaking into greens and thin sunlight muted by fog and (seemingly) never-ending mist. My quest to create Winterscape Blue had a second purpose. I decided to paint this series with different paint!

There is no more important item in the artist’s tool kit than paint.

Now, let’s be honest… I’m a sucker for European paint. The romance in using paints steeped in centuries of tradition cannot be denied. I adore Old Holland Classic Colours. Old Holland has been making oil paint in the Netherlands since 1664 (the days of Rembrandt and Vermeer) using traditional formulas, some of which are still in use today. Their paints are deliciously saturated with pigment. I’ve become particularly fond of their umbers and siennas which respond beautifully to very thin glazing.

But.  I’ve been carrying a moral dilemma. I have wanted (and tried) to support Australian made products, but I’ve not yet been satisfied with the quality of oil colours produced here. Until I was introduced to Langridge Artist Colours.

Move over Old Holland… there’s a new tube in town.


Langridge Artist Colours is a Melbourne based independent oil paint manufacturer founded by David Coles. They create pigment of an incredibly high quality by hand. Langridge stands up on the world stage. They are indeed some of the finest paints I have ever used.

My personal introduction to Langridge was last year. My desperation was palpable as I searched for a reliable varnish that didn’t freak out in a really cold climate. I had been faithful to Windsor & Newton Matt Varnish for years, but when I moved to the ultra cool climate of Trentham something started to go terribly wrong. W&N varnish would dry so streaky and patchy that the only option would be to remove it and start again. (For those of you who haven’t had the experience of intensely ‘scrubbing’ the surface of your painted labour of love with a stiff brush and copious amounts of turps to dissolve the dried varnish, taking it back to the original painted surface with cotton rags, let me tell you, it’s utterly stressful!)

The staff at St.Luke’s Art Shop (Smith Street, Collingwood) gently steered me towards Langridge and I now swear by their Matt Varnish as being the best I’ve ever used.

David Coles, the man behind Langridge, has been described as the Paint Whisperer and a Master of Colour. This fascinating article about David and the brand he has created tells the full story:

The article not only describes how he started in the industry but recounts where they source pigments from all over the world, as well as touching on the science behind the making of paint. I needed no more convincing after reading this article, that I had finally found the right product so I could make the transition and wholeheartedly support the art community in my own backyard.

As history will now attest, my winter was a highly successful and busy time, which left me little time at the easel to delve into winter dreamscapes. Luckily, a Trentham winter can roll on indefinitely, with thick fog and mist recurring visual themes deep into Spring. My inspiration for the series The Winterscapes Blue is never too far away.


 Winterscape Blue II ~ oil on linen                   Winterscape Blue I ~ oil on linen                 

This series will be completed entirely in Langridge paints. My transition from European paints steeped in history to this exciting, young Melbourne brand has been seamless. These wonderful paints are everything I expect (indeed, demand), and I look forward to pushing them to the limits of my capacity as an artist.