We get so many questions about our materials that we decided to dedicate a page to it.

Dave and I are crackheads for Natural Pigments products.  For many years we dabbled around with different brands--Winsor Newton, Rembrandt-Talens, Old Holland, Mussini, Vasari, Blue Ridge, Daler-Rowney.  They all work, and they each have certain colours that we love, BUT we like Rublev best.  We know George and Tania, we've seen their factory, and we know their paints are made the way we would make them ourselves if only we weren't completely lazy and incapable.  That is, they are made with a mind towards longevity.  I want to say they're archival, but George will just correct me because that's the wrong word to use (can someone please come up with a word that we can use?).


Kate's Palette (usually six to twelve of the following)

Lead White No. 2: creamy and easy to blend.  If you are used to Titanium, this is an easy transition.
Flemish White : stiff.  Paint some crisp drapery with this.
Primrose Chrome Yellow
Lemon Ocher/Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher: The latter has a more conventional texture.
French Sienna
Orange Ocher/Italian Ocher Dark: A go-to for flesh.
French Burnt Sienna: Has some interesting grittiness.  My go-to for painting red hair.
Madder Lake/Alizarin Crimson: I mix this with the above to get a spectrum of fleshy reds from cool to warm
Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm
Cyprus Umber Dark: Lovely and dark dark dark.  Makes an inky heart of darkness when mixed with Ultramarine Blue
Italian Green Umber: Slightly greenish umber
French Umber: rather like raw umber
Ultramarine Blue Green Shade: wonderful goopy texture
Nicosia Green Earth: pretty green, texture is rather dense, not a strong tinter
Bone Black: I cut this colour with a bit of umber paint to help it dry hard.  Super black.
Roman Black: A very light black. I've been using this to neutralize flesh tones.

Disclaimer:  These paints have personality.  Some feel very much like other brands in their handling, but others are whacky--ropey, gritty, grainy, stiff, tacky--and that's the fun part.  I produced some good paintings before converting to Rublev, but I don't think I was a good painter until I made the switch.  My paintings now have a tactile quality that they didn't have before, because with Rublev paints I find it easy and natural to build up impastoes, or drag out a gritty scumble.  Painting is never boring and I love how these paints sometimes make decisions for me.

If you're going to start with one paint, buy the Lead White No 1 or No 2.  This is the single most important change you can make to your palette.  Titanium whites are generally cut with zinc, which we all know is bad.  What you probably don't know is that titanium itself is almost just as bad.  You will wind up with cracked paintings, especially if you work on supple supports (canvas).  And besides, titanium kills chroma and is brutally opaque.  The only thing titanium is good for is bone implants.

Other Products I Love:
Gamsol: the least volatile and toxic solvent
Gamvar: my favorite varnish.  Easy to apply, easy to remove.  Some people don't like how glossy it is, but you can easily solve this problem by getting over yourself.  Seriously.  Learn to love the gloss.  It will make you blacks darker than the bowels of a black hole and your whole painting shine like a jewel.
Oleogel (Natural Pigments): Read this post.
Ivory Soap: you seriously don't need to spend money on special brush soaps.  Save your money.
Impasto or Velazquez Mediums (Natural Pigments): These mediums are more like paints in that they contain a colourless pigment and a binder.  When you add them to your paints, it doesn't change the magical ratio of pigment to binder, and consequently you don't incur the usual problems that you do when you add straight oil--weakening of the paint film, for instance.  They squeeze out of a tube and sit on my palette with all my other paint blobs.  Along with Oleogel, Velazquez Medium is now a staple for me.  I use it for adding body to my paint when needed, of course, but there's another use for it too.  Let's say I'm having trouble hitting a high chroma, light value note with the colours on my palette.  I can mix the right hue and chroma, but when I add the white to raise the value, the chroma gets lost.  That's where Velazquez medium saves the day.  I often use Velazquez or Impasto medium instead of white to bump my lightest colours up a value without sacrificing chroma.  If you're working with a limited palette, this is an ass-saving feature.
Velazquez and Impasto Medium handle differently.  Impasto is "short" and spiky, whereas Velazquez is ropey (great for detailing lace).  I used to prefer the former, but these days I prefer the latter.

Dibond, Easy Gesso, and Golden Acrylic Ground: Read this post.

Rosemary & Co: I have a brush set.


  1. Thank you. I can't believe that I am the first to comment here as this type of posting is so time-savingly valuable. Love the blog and the paintings.

    (Why is it so difficult to post comments to a blog while with instagram it is...well almost instant?)

    1. We screen the comments before we let them go up. Once in a blue moon someone says something nasty to someone else, and this is a HURT FREE ZONE, PEOPLE. Peace.

  2. Could you say a few words about what the Venetian medium is like?
    I usually use a very thick oil cut with solvent for easy application and quick, firm set so I can paint wet-on-wet-on-wet.
    I heard the Venetian does the same but without solvent.

  3. lol on the gloss varnish remark... That's great

    1. That made me laugh so loud. I super appreciate the humor of this blog.

  4. Hi Kate and David,

    I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I've been reading your blog for almost a year now, since I got back into painting more seriously.

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate the tips and materials recommendations. I'm loving painting on Dibond panels and using Natural Pigments paint. I just got my first batch of Rosemary and Co brushes as well, can't wait to try those out.

    Your generous nature and sincere recommendations have been very much appreciated. I'm also looking forward to the next time you have work on display at Gallery 1261 in Denver. Can't wait to see your work in person.

  5. Thank you for your generosity. So wonderful to have this information! Have you added any colors to your palette of late?

  6. So very appreciative of the valuable information you share in such an interesting and engaging way!

  7. hi new to your site.
    where do you get the Velazquez mediums and the rublev oils?
    thanks dominic

    1. Hello you can get them here and I believe Kate has her own set of Rublev paints as well :)

  8. Very nice and informative. So nice of you to share this information. Valuable and wonderfulAll paint by numbers