Readers have asked why I don’t have a review of Geneva brand oils in my Oil Paint reference. The short answer is that I haven’t used their oils. The longer answer is a little more complicated; I have no intention of trying this brand.
I know. I’m someone who has repeatedly claimed to be ready to test anything. I’m sticking by my claim but after studying the available information on Geneva Oils, I will pass this time.
Geneva Fine Arts is an artist-run company, which is a good sign for art supply manufacturers. Who better than artists to appraise the quality of art materials?
Typically, artist-run companies produce the materials that the artist who is running the show wants for himself. That is true in this case.
Geneva Fine Arts is owned by the artist, John Carder. Carder has a lot of information about his paints on YouTube along with videos in which he teaches his style and technique.
Carder characterizes himself as a realist and is obsessively focused on certain problems that are challenging for artists, especially young ones. His solutions might be too limiting for my taste but that isn’t a criticism–we’re all limited.
One problem that he solves that affects his paint brand is drying time. Carder goes to great lengths to retard the drying time of his paint. This is unusual. Most artists look for ways to speed up drying time. For many artists, including me, paint cannot be too drying.
Carder works in a very methodical manner where he needs the paint to remain wet for days at a time while he modifies and blends tones. Most artists try to hit the mark straight off and not worry the tones too much. If additional work is required, they add corrections and details with new layers.
While his approach isn’t for me, artists should not be afraid to wrestle with problems directly and honestly, rather than accept a simple, more superficial solution. I think Carder approaches the problem of seeing directly and honestly.
Carder adds Clove Oil to his paint. This significantly extends its drying time. There are use cases where I add Clove Oil to my paint too (large areas in large paintings, for example), but these are corner cases–exceptions to the rule.
By putting Clove Oil in the paint, Carder transforms a corner case into the primary use case, and since I cannot take it out of the paint, it’s useless for my purposes.
This isn’t a critique of Geneva Oil Paint quality (how could it be?). The paint appears to be the exact same paint he uses himself and that is evidence of his sincerity.