Golden Artist Colors

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Golden Artist Colors is a manufacturing company that focuses almost entirely on paints, used in the fine arts, decoration, and crafts. Based in New Berlin, New York, the company produces the largest line of acrylic colors that is currently available to artists, including recreations of historic pigments. Golden also manufactures and distributes the Williamsburg line of handmade artists oil paints, and the Proceeed Professional Decorative Painting System, a line of acrylic paints and mediums for architectural painting.

Golden Artist Colors has collaborated with artists on significant mural projects, including: the Michlalah murals in Jerusalem by Archie Rand, Venus by Knox Martin, and indoor murals by Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein.[1]


During the 1930s, Sam Golden joined his uncle Leonard Bocour, forming a partnership in the paint company called Bocour Artist Colors. They produced hand-ground oil colors for artists and they called their oil paint tubes and jars Bellini. Their store in Manhattan became a hangout for artists through the early 1950s. Artists such as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Knox Martin[2] and Jack Levine would get paint there and visit with both Golden and Bocour (who was also a painter).

Between 1946 and 1949, and after a process of experimentation, the first artist acrylic paint was ready for sale and it was mineral spirit and turpentine soluble called Magna. One of the first artists to use the paint called Magna, was Morris Louis. Eventually Bocour Artist Colors developed a water-soluble version of the acrylic paint, called Aquatec.

In June 1980, ten years after Sam Golden retired from the Bocour Artist Colors company, he founded the Golden Artist Colors, Inc., along with his wife Adele, son Mark and daughter-in-law Barbara Golden and partner Chuck Kelly. They began making paint in a 900-square-foot (84 m2), renovated barn in upstate New York.

The company received many awards including the 1991 Business Arts Award by the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce and the Council of the Arts. Mark Golden received the 1996 Small Business Person of the Year from the US Small Business Administration, Golden Artist Colors was featured on the NBC Nightly News as a successful small business. In 1998 Mark Golden was selected by Fortune Magazine to appear in its video series on small business.

When Sam Golden died at age 82, in 1997, he left behind a long legacy of participation in the creative process of artists and their materials. The Golden company added 31,000 square feet (2,900 m2) to its manufacturing facility in 1997 and took down the "old barn", replacing it with state-of-the-art technical laboratories and paint manufacturing equipment. The company laboratories are actively studying and developing new and better innovations to make their acrylic paint increasingly durable and sophisticated. In the 21st century they have developed new colors, new mediums, new slow-drying paints and high chroma fluid products that were impossible to even contemplate when the company began back in the 1980s.


Golden acrylic colors[edit]

A selection of Golden artist colors products

Golden manufactures the largest range of colors currently available for artists. Most of its acrylic paints are available in both heavy body and fluid mixtures. Heavy body paints are high viscosity and mimic the typical tube consistency of oil paints, while fluid paints are liquid but maintain an extremely high pigment load. A variety of mediums are also available to alter the viscosity, drying time, sheen, and other material properties of the paint.

Gessoes and grounds[edit]

Golden gessoes and grounds provide sizing and surface options for acrylic and oil painters. Acrylic gesso is produced in high-load black and white versions. Golden also produces grounds for pastel and silverpoint drawing, and an absorbent acrylic ground for watercolor painting and staining effects.


Golden produces two lines of final picture varnishes. Polymer varnishes with ultraviolet light blocking properties are made for use with acrylic paints. Mineral spirit based MSA varnishes are made for use with both acrylic and oil colors.

Open acrylic colors and mediums[edit]

In 2007 Golden began marketing a line of newly developed acrylic paints, called the Open Acrylic Painting System. These specially formulated paints have increased drying and working time. The system is intended to give acrylic painters access to the wet in wet painting techniques favored by oil painters. While Open colors and mediums dry slowly, they still dry far more quickly than traditional oil paints and mediums.

Custom products[edit]

In addition to its regular line of artists materials, Golden also produces custom products for painters, some of which become available to the general public. These currently include extra high pigment load acrylic paints, paste paints, a variety of mediums and additives, stop out varnish for etching, and mineral spirit borne acrylic colors for conservators.

Handmade oil colors[edit]

In May 2010, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. acquired Williamsburg Oil Colors, relocating the staff and paint making equipment from East Meredith, New York, to the Golden facility in New Berlin. According to Mark Golden, co-founder and CEO of Golden Artist Colors, "there was no question that eventually we would make oil colors here. In fact, for over 20 years, we have been making custom oil paints for artists requiring unique colors or materials."


  1. ^ "Mural Paints: Current and Future Formulations" by MARK GOLDEN, 2003, The Getty Conservation Institute [1]
  2. ^ Just Paint Newsletter #27

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