Paint Review: Lefranc & Bourgeois, Blockx, Old Holland, Mussini, Daniel Smith

I recently got a couple of new orders of oil paint, seen above, and I thought I’d show you guys what I got and what I thought of it. Three of these brands are my first time ever using their paint.

First I’ll introduce the brands I got paint from-

Lefranc & Bourgeois
I’ve never used this brand, and the prices for nearly all the paint are so low that I assumed it wouldn’t be any good, but it was recommended on an art forum I go to as having some reasonably good stuff. Since it was on sale at the time I ordered I thought I’d give it a try. My overall impression from 3 tubes is that I definitely have better paint already, but it’s still a really good value considering the price.

A new brand for me. It’s been highly recommended as a top premium brand by the posters on the art forum I go to. I was kind of in a rush when I was making my order so I only got one tube from them and didn’t think too long about it, but once I tried it out it was exactly what I hoped for and wanted. They’re a littly stingy with their tube sizes; only 35ml while most other brands use either 37ml or 40ml.

Old Holland
Another premium brand, I’ve used some of their paint before and posted about it here. Many people seem to consider this one of the top if not the very top brand out there. Their prices reflect this, but their paint actually is really good from what I’ve seen.

I’ve never used this brand either, but I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it. As a premium brand they have premium prices, so being on a budget I only got 1 tube of their cheapest paints. My so far very narrow experience with them has been very good, although they also use only 35ml tubes.

Daniel Smith
I first started using this brand somewhere between 10-11 years ago and with few exceptions I’ve always been very satisfied with them, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve actually ordered anything. Based in the US, their paint can only be gotten either direct from them or I think from a couple of international suppliers. A large portion of my oil paint collection and a very large portion of my watercolors are from Daniel Smith.

Lefranc & Bourgeois

Lefranc & Bourgeois Chinese red vermilion hue
Actually a very attractive paint. I like the pink tints it gives. I don’t normally get paint that’s made of more than one pigment, but these are both good ones. When I mixed this with paints from other brands it seemed like the pigment load was a little lower, which makes sense considering the low price.

Mineral Violet Light – PV16
This is apparently their name for what many other brands call manganese violet. It looks pretty good and makes nice violet tints. I think the handling is what would be called waxy though and I found that the paint has a dull matte surface, even straight from the tube.

I’ve been wanting a silver in oil paints so I thought I’d try theirs. Seems like it’d be good enough for what I want to use it for, and the price was right.

Blockx, Old Holland, Mussini

Blockx mars violet
A very strong tinter, I mixed this with white twice to show off the hue at lighter values. This is a cool, dark earthy red that tints to a dull violet red. I chose the Blockx version of this paint because from what I saw in side by side comparisons theirs was one of the coolest and most violet and I wanted to make sure the mars violet I got would be noticeably different from my other varieties of PR101. I’m liking this paint more than I expected to and it’s a welcome addition to my palette. The handling is a little thick. One annoying note- even after I stopped squeezing paint was still coming out of the tube, each of the few times that I’ve gotten paint out now. I’m pretty sure it has more to do with the individual tube and the way it was packed than anything else.

Old Holland yellow ochre burnt and Old Holland burnt sienna
Last time I mentioned how I had wanted to get yellow ochre half burnt instead of the yellow ochre light that I went with, but this time I decided to get the full burnt version. It’s similar to the burnt sienna, which I put next to it, but yellower and lighter. Mixing this with some cadmium vermilion from Blue Ridge and a little white actually got a really good skin tone. I think I prefer this paint over the standard burnt sienna. One note- when I first squeezed the tube nothing came out. I squeezed harder and still nothing. I then pushed a nail into the open mouth of the tube and penetrated a thin layer of nearly dry paint. The paint under that now comes out, but not with any small amount of squeezing and it’s very thick and feels partly dried. Did I just get an old tube? I don’t think I’ve had this happen before. Tube issues aside, I do recommend this paint for its color. There’s burnt yellow ochres from a couple of other brands I know of that I might try now that I see how much I like this one.

Schmincke Mussini atrament black
This seems like it’d be an odd choice of paint for my first tube from this brand, but I’ve been wanting to try this pigment for awhile now. It’s a black pigment, sometimes referred to as perylene black or perylene green, but unlike other blacks it has a greenishness to it. Think of it as an extremely dark shadow green. Mixed with yellow it produces some really good greens. I could easily see myself painting a shadowy pine forest with this. It kind of seems like more of a specialty pigment than something to have on a standard palette, but for what it’s good at it’s very good at.

Daniel Smith

Nickel Azo Yellow – PY150
A very attractive paint and my first time using this pigment in oils. I don’t think the colors in this photo are accurate because in real life it’s just slightly greenish, but it’s so subtle it’s hard to notice. There seems to be an odd grittiness to the paint. At first I thought it was just some of the dried oil that had leaked out around the cap, but even after squeezing out some more paint there was still an evenly dispersed grit throughout the paint of what I think is little bits of dried oil. I’m not sure what’s up with that. That aside, the color is extremely good and when mixed with a little white it become a bright golden yellow with a slight greenish cast. My only regret is not getting this paint years ago. I highly recommend this one.

Daniel Smith nickel titanate yellow
A subtle, cool, pale yellow. This is also my first time with this pigment, and I’m finding it to be very useful for mixing greens. It doesn’t seem like a strong tinter. I haven’t done a whole lot of mixing with it yet, but so far it feels like its main purpose on my palette will be for making greens with blue or for lightening and yellowing greens.

Daniel Smith phthalo blue green shade
Phthalo blue is known for being extremely intense and often requires being “muddied up” a little by mixing in other paints just to get it to be subdued enough to harmonize with the other paints on your palette. Although clearly a green shade of phthalo blue, for some reason they don’t specify the exact version of the pigment (e.g. PB15:3, PB15:4, etc) the way most other brands do, but I’ve placed it next to my Phthalo Blue Green (PB15:4) from Rembrandt for comparison. I can hardly tell a difference between them, but the Daniel Smith paint is cheaper than ASW’s price on the Rembrandt paint by a few dollars, and less than half their suggested retail price. I did a further test of tinting strength (not shown) and these two paints performed pretty much identically for me. The paint from Rembrandt is also looser while the Daniel Smith paint has a slightly thicker consistency, but without being too thick, which I prefer. Being comparable to other brands, often at a lower price, is one of the things that first attracted me to Daniel Smith’s products. An another annoying note- this paint also seemed to want to continued coming out of the tube even after I stopped squeezing.

Daniel Smith cerulean blue chromium
A light, pale blue, similar to a sky blue. There’s 2 (technically 3 if you count PB71 which nobody currently makes paint with that I know of) versions of cerulean out there- the “real” cerulean (PB35) and the “imitation” cerulean (PB36). To make things more complicated, there’s several variations of PB36- ranging from the bluer one seen here to a greenish turquoise version. It’s not an apples to apples comparison that I’m doing here, but Winsor & Newton’s cerulean (PB35) is the only other one I have. It’s important to note that I got the W&N paint probably over 10 years ago, and from what I’ve read in several places they improved their paints a few years ago, so a newer cerulean from them would probably perform better than this one. Of the two Daniel Smith cerulean is very slightly greener, and I prefer the bluer color of the W&N paint. The tinting strength is the same for both, even in the further tests I did (also not shown). It’s very important to point out that the Daniel Smith paint is about half the price of W&N’s from ASW and less than 1/3rd of the retail price. Daniel Smith’s paint here is glossier than the unfortunately dull matte W&N paint, something that I think I’ve only seen in the old cerulean from W&N. While I actually prefer my tube of W&N’s cerulean, for the bluer color at least, I would recommend at least considering the Daniel Smith paint. Makes an interesting range of light greens mixed with the nickel titanate yellow above.

Well, that was a lot more typing than I thought it’d be. Hopefully you guys don’t mind these really long posts about paint though, since I’m planning on another one of these in a few days.

8 thoughts on “Paint Review: Lefranc & Bourgeois, Blockx, Old Holland, Mussini, Daniel Smith

  1. Oooo, so many paints — colors and brands — to choose from!! It’s exhausting, just thinking about it. An oil paint I’ve tried and loved is Blue Ridge paints. They’re in Tennessee, I think. Great post –thanks for it!

  2. Oh -You mentioned Blue Ridge;said you mixed it with Old Holland. I hadn’t read the last part of your article when I made my first post. Sorry. I kinda stop reading when the posts get a bit long.

    1. Blue Ridge is actually North Carolina, and not long ago they got back up and running after a fire shut them down about a year ago. Because of that they still don’t have the full list of paints in production that they used to, but yeah it’s really good paint. If I didn’t have such a backlog of unused paint, because I always bought it faster than I used it, I’d definitely get some more from Blue Ridge. 🙂

      1. Yes, I saw the pictures of exploded paints after the fire and it was better than any painting!

      2. Not that I would recommend burning paint (especially Prussian blue, which would release cyanide gas) but now I’m wondering if partly burnt paint would still be useable. Maybe it’d be like painting with burnt plate oil? That’s a heat-thickened oil normally used in printmaking, but can be added to oil paint.

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