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.
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.