What are the new developments in art materials in 2018?

Artwork Archive has just returned from back-to-back conferences—jetting from PACE in Santa Fe to Washington D.C. for the annual Portrait Society conference.

Both were equal parts inspiration and education—and gave us the opportunity to sit down with a number of companies that make art materials to learn more about what goes into some of the best products in the market.

What we saw was that a number of overarching themes were starting to pop up across companies.

More and more companies are launching products that cater to the student and emerging artist markets. Environmentally friendly products are coming out as more and more companies are focusing on sustainability and conservation. And, portability was a definite theme as companies continue to innovate and create products that are ideal for artists on the go.

Here's what's new this year:


New materials are being developed for easier travel.


Gamblin knows that artists are often traveling.

That’s why they developed their Solvent-Free Gel to be able to get through security lines in the airport and tuck right into your checked baggage—and another reason why it’s quickly becoming one of their best-selling mediums.  

“It travels well, lasts a long time, and because it’s a gel, it stays put—so you don’t need an additional palette cup—which is one less thing to worry about when painting on-the-go,” said Gamblin product manager, Scott Gellaty.

Dave Bernard is a product specialist at Gamblin and he added that “[the solvant] retains a nice crisp brushstroke, which is critical to plein air painters.”

Traveling artists are pushing companies to make it easier to pack up and go.

Continuing the theme of making life easier for artists on the go, the mother-daughter team at Raymar just launched a new 8”x16” panel carrier that can accommodate 8”x16”, 8”x8”, 8”x10” and 8”x6” panels.

“It’s one of our most versatile carriers and has been a very popular addition to our product line,” said Emily Dietrich, co-owner of Raymar.

They will also be having an upcoming collaboration with Fabriano Artistico that will result in a unique watercolor paper panel—so be sure to check back in about that coming up.


Education will accompany many of the products.

Rosemary & Co is a dynamic mother-and-daughter led company that continues to innovate while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship and quality in their brushes.

While Rosemary & Co will have a number of new products coming out in 2018, one of their main goals for this year is to support that product line with educational resources.

“It’s not enough to create a great brush,” said Director of Marketing Symi Jackson, “Our goal is to also arm our artists with the resources they need to properly use and care for them as well.”  

Choosing the right brush for the right application is critical and having the knowledge of how to use and care for that brush results in a better result for a longer duration.

Don’t expect videos for their 3000+ lines. What you can expect is informative videos from some of their master artists like Jeremy Lipking and Michael Klein that get into specifics about their more popular brush lines.

Emerging artists and the environment are pushing companies forward.

Savoir Faire and Pierre Guidetti have a new line of oil paints called Rive Gauche. This line is targeted at students and early-stage artists and aims to provide them with an affordable, yet a high-quality product. It will compete with the likes of 1980 from Gamblin.

They will also be launching a new environmentally friendly oil medium-range called Green for Oil—a line of safer, greener alternatives to traditional solvents.


Synthetic materials are being made to mimic the best aspects of natural ones.

Princeton’s new Aspen line was born out of observations made over the last few years of events. They saw the importance of having a strong brush and enlisted the help of a fifth-generation Japanese brush maker to create a brush that had the attributes most important to plein air painters.

Another handy characteristic is the muted ferrule color. “Many outdoor painters cover their ferrule with masking tape because they don’t like light reflection,” said Vice President of Sales Michael Hammer.  “We went with a matte black finish to avoid that.”

They also are getting into the environmentally and earth-friendly game with their synthetic Squirrel brush called Neptune.

Princeton altered the surface of the bristle to release like Squirrel, yet at a fraction of the price of the natural hair equivalent.  

“We are taking synthetics into the realm of natural brushes,” Hammer said. With the price of natural hair brushes increasing at such a dramatic rate in the last few years, Princeton sees this as a win for the consumer and animals alike.




Companies are keeping their eye on constant improvement.

Winsor Newton gave us an update on their paper line.  

“Every aspect of the paper from size, composition, texture has been considered and improved,”  said Peter Andrew from Fine Art Collective.

Their overall goal with these improvements is to put them on par with Arches.


Brands are working to inform artists about material properties and history

Royal Talen’s Cobra line is going from 70 colors to 90 colors in 2019 with a long-term goal of 120 to mirror the Rembrandt line. They also launched a Cobra Study line to compete with Gamblin's 1980 line and Sennelier’s new Rive Gauche series.

Excited about those education programs that more companies are rolling out? Royal Talens has some big plans in this department.

“It’s a complimentary program for artist groups around the country as well as schools and retailers focused on practical knowledge on material history, manufacture and working properties,” said Jeff Olson, Education Director at Royal Talons.


Traditional favorites will be branching out.

In addition to adding two new colors to their oil line, Michael Harding is looking to launch a range of watercolors by the end of the year.

Harding has also created a special non-absorbent acrylic primer.  “I looked hard for a resin and found a perfect fit that results in a product that’s less porous and dries rapidly,” he said.


Portable paints make it easy for painting en plein air.

New and interesting in the world of Golden paints?

Say hello to the QoR mini Half Pan Travel Set. This travel set is aimed at making life easier for the artist on the go.  

“It’s been an immediate hit,” said Chris Farrell, Creative Director at Golden. “ People love the portability of it.”

The silicone insert makes this product easy to mix paints on the lid and even easier to clean—setting this product apart from other paint sets.  


Paint technology is advancing to help artists create more vibrant works.

Transparent Marble White paint is a newer addition to the Richeson Art product line.

“With this product, you can put a color like red down but preserve the initial color value,” said Richeson Art owner, Darren Richeson. “Drawing the paint down with transparent white allows you to maintain the value and spirit of the color.”

At this time, Richeson Art is the only company on the market that has a product like the Transparent Marble White paint.

They also have a new brush called Grey Matters with a matte handle and matte ferrule.  Richeson explained, “The brush should disappear. The problem with a bright brush is that it can be distracting. We went this route to avoid glare, other distractions, and built a quality brush that doesn’t get in your way.“

The last item of interest and another fitting the “portability” theme is their new line of pocket brushes. These types of brushes have been around for watercolor for years, but there wasn’t a pocket line that works for oil, so they took some of their most popular oil brushes and made pocket versions.

Longevity is still the main concern.

For Ampersand, the Floater frame line is a big focus this year. Launched in 2017, Ampersand will be adding five new sizes in the Fall of 2018.  

Dana Brown tells us what makes these frames special. “What makes it unique is that it’s designed for use with cradle panels,” she said. “It has a shallow rabbet offering, so artists can use flat uncradled panels.”

One other unique aspect of Ampersand frames is the fact that they are the only company that seals their wood before applying coatings, making it one of the most warp-resistant frames on the market.


Are your current materials safe? Take a look at this list and see if you have any of these harmful materials in your studio.