Visit Gamblin in Portland
On site in Portland
This summer Deffner & Johann had the wonderful opportunity to visit Robert Gamblin and his wife Catherine in Portland, USA. On a beautiful sunny morning Robert led us through his paint factory, showed and explained the production of the paints - it was "Red Day".
Gamblin's company produces more than 200 colors in an environmentally friendly and safe production process in southeast Portland. Gamblin Artists Colors' paints and Gamsol solvent - an odorless solvent - are all non-toxic and lead-free. The air in the production areas where the company handles dry pigments is filtered so that employees are not exposed to pigment dust.
After a tour thru the factory, we sit down for a chat over a cup of tea in the couple's studio. Robert Gamblin spends about half of his working day producing paint. The other half in the studio, often with his wife Catherine Gamblin, who is both a painter/artist herself and a partner in the company. Thus it is possible for the two of them to repeatedly deal with the production of the Gamblin Conservation Colors, to test them, to research them or to work with them themselves. The couple often travel together to conferences where Gamblin acts as a speaker. "Conservators approach him," says Catherine, "and shower him with compliments, because with the Conservation Colors they finally have a product they can rely on for their work."
How did the development of the special Conservation Colors come about?
The development took its beginning in 1989 when Robert Gamblin was invited to give a lecture on modern materials at the Smithsonian Institute during a conference for restorers. "It was my first time to look at the world of conservation - the restorers I met there impressed me deeply." From that moment on, it was clear to Robert Gamblin that he wanted to engage more intensively with the task of conservation and restoration, to understand how and with what one works in this field, and where the passion for the preservation of art comes from.
A few years later, after five years in a research team with three internationally renowned conservators - René de la Rie (Director of the Scientific Department of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), Mark Leonard (Director of Conservation, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California) and Jill Whitten (Whitten Proctor Conservation, Houston, Texas) - Robert Gamblin founded Gamblin Conservation Colors in 2000 under the umbrella of Gamblin Golors, which has existed since 1980.
The goal was to develop a conservation color that would not change over hundreds of years, and that would make the restorer's work safer by reducing solvent requirements. Today, more than 250 museums around the world use Gamblin paints to restore rare works of art. In addition, Robert Gamblin, who worked at the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts from 1994 to 2000, wrote a Chapbook on color and developed 150 antique colors from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for the Smithsonian Institution (The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education and research complex; https://www.si.edu/).
With Gamblin, Deffner & Johann now has a particularly committed manufacturer of high-quality colours predestined for restoration.
Gamblin does not only produce colours as they always have been, but as they should be for the most diverse restoration needs. Gamblin attaches particular importance to excellent colour fidelity, historical material properties, simple and safe handling and longevity after processing. The result: fully saturated colours, soluble in solvents with low polarity, highly lightfast, resistant to aging without yellowing and first-class processing properties characterise these colours.
Special products such as "Extender White" and for different eras simplify retouching in restoration. The high quality standard of Gamblin Conservation Colors is appreciated by professionals worldwide - so it is no wonder that works by great artists of different eras have already been restored using Conservation Colors.
A joint visit to Germany by Robert Gamblin and his wife Catherine is planned for 2020, including lectures and workshops at Deffner & Johann.
from left to right: Ralph-Uwe Johann, Robert Gamblin, Catherine Gamblin, Silke Johann