Paint selection presents a multitude of uncertainties when you are starting out as a marbler: will these paints work for me? Can I be sure what colors I like? How do I know which white or black to pick? Buying paint is one of the more expensive components of becoming a marbler so making wise decisions is a good thing. With that in mind – and because my students have asked – I am writing this blog!

First, some disclaimers – I am only writing from my knowledge and experience with paint selection. That experience has been almost exclusively marbling with Golden Fluid Acrylics. I’m not schooled in color theory either – this is about what seems to work rather than what one “should” do.

Here is my advice about some section basics:

  • I have been told that marblers should use one brand of paint because then you are not mixing a whole lot of different approaches to paint chemistries. That makes logical sense to me so I have simply accepted it.
  • Choosing a white and black are one of the first challenges. I’d buy Carbon Black because that is the most black – Bone Black is really grey. Stay away from Zink White; it is too heavy and often sinks to the bottom of the tank. Titanium White has also been problematic for me so I buy Titan Buff to use as my white.
  • Pyrrole Red is the best red for marbling that I have found. The other reds tend to come out pink on the paper. Purples are generally hard to use! I’m still experimenting with them.
  • Don’t be put off by the mustard color of yellow oxide or yellow ochre, they usually make a much truer yellow on the paper when marbling.
  • You are unlikely to be able to afford all the colors you want. And, Golden doesn’t make some – burgundy, for instance. Here are some of the mixed colors I’m currently using: Permanent Green Light + almost the same amount of black = nice dark green; Paynes Gray + Pyrrole Red + a drop of black = burgundy; vat orange + a little Van Dyke brown = burnt orange. Mix away!

This info is just to get your paint selection started. One of the fun things about marbling is the color combinations you come up with and developing your own pallet of colors. So, expect to need to experiment and start with new colors by buying the small (1 oz) bottles and mark when sales are likely to occur. Also, watch what colors other marblers use and ask what they are and even if you can borrow some for a sheet. This is one of the beauties of marbling in groups!!