I wrote about Robert Doak’s oil paints back in July, when I first started this web log. Today, he called me. He had noticed my post here, looked up my phone number on his customer list, and wanted to thank me for recommending his products. He also asked about my statement that some of his paints separate, so that a oil oozes out of the tube when you remove the cap (I’ve only had this happen with a small percentage of his paint tubes).
He said that he almost never gets this complaint. He wanted me to know that, when it happens, it does so because he uses very little stearate, which is a clear, inexpensive pigment that paint manufacturers use to prevent separation. It also reduces pigment load and (when used in excess) makes paints more thick and difficult to work with. Cheaper brands of oil paint use a lot of stearate, to improve shelf life and reduce the percentage of expensive pigments in their paint (that’s part of why student grade paint is usually very stiff). I have never been concerned about separation with Doak’s paint, because I know it happens because he emphasizes pigment load and smooth handling over shelf life.
In the original post I said that the way to deal with separation was to squeeze your paint out onto absorbent paper, wait a couple of minutes, then transfer the paint to your palette with a knife. Mr. Doak said doing that over and over might tend to leech the oil out of the paint tube and cause the paint in the tube to harden (I haven’t had that happen). He recommended instead storing any tube of paint with separation issues cap downward, so the oil moves back up through the pigment in the tube. I told him I’d try that and pass on the tip.
I still strongly recommend his paint.