Goodbye, Old Holland

 Goodbye, Old Holland, I’m done with you.

In my Oil Paint Brand Reference, I rated the Old Holland (OH) brand as top; best in breed among high-end brands.  Its dense pigmentation gives it unrivaled covering power and performance.  Funny thing though, I noticed that lately there are no OH paints on my palette.  Why?  Price.  Their prices are lurid; so high that I buy them with less and less frequency.  

And it’s not just the high prices that have put me off the brand.  OH has cynically taken advantage of the EU’s anti-fine art material policies to rocket the prices of their lead-based paints through the roof.  A 125 ML tube of cremnitz white lists for $179;  Blick lists it for $134.  And every time I price their other colors the price has jumped 5%.  Things couldn’t have worked out better for OH’s pricing scheme if they’d written the EU regulations themselves.  Makes you wonder.   

The lead-based whites–flake white and cremnitz white–are the backbone of oil painting.  The other whites-zinc and titanium–simply do not compare.  OH, as a sop to artists who refuse to pay their high prices, offers flake white #1 which is a blend of real flake white and zinc white. The price, while lower than that of pure flake white ($84), is still extremely high.  My guess is that flake white #1 is 90% zinc and 10% flake white.

I bought a batch of flake white #1 some time back but I haven’t used for awhile.  I use pure flake white from other brands, mostly RGH, Blue Ridge, Utrecht, and W&N.  It was high time to put flake white #1 through its paces.  I mixed my usual assortment of warm and cool grays and flesh tones with it (you can see them in the center of the palette in this photo) and started working on the painting on the easel.

Flake white #1 handles like zinc white rather than real flake white.  It’s stiff and unresponsive–yeech.  I hate it.  I scrapped off the offending mixtures, as you can see in this photo, and started fresh with mixtures made with flake white from Utrecht.  

I won’t use my supply of a half-dozen tubes of flake white #1 for anything other than grounds. That’s a steep price for something I usually reserve for student-grade paint.

I won’t buy OH paints any longer.

  2 comments for “Goodbye, Old Holland

  1. Anderson Long
    March 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Agreed on Old Holland. They were my favorite, along with Schminke Mussini (I like the added dammar— have frequently ground my own paint and added amber/copal/mastic/dammar/Canada balsam/larch turps etc and made many mediums/varnishes). But both are killers price wise and their quality compared to Vasari/Rublev at similar prices just didn’t make sense. These days it’s Kama or Kremer or Rublev for dry pigments, and Vasari, (favorite off the shelf— high prices but worth it quality wise to me )Michael Harding, RGH, and occasionally Blockx for tubes. Am a big fan of James Groves mediums, just excellent quality to price ratio by my lights.
    Love you blog!

    • Tom Hudson
      March 17, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Rublev paints are good. Their burnt sienna might be the best I’ve seen. Their oils and mediums are very uneven, however. These days I’m buying paints from RGH, Blue Ridge, and Doak. Everything I’ve ever purchased from Doak has been good.

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