Golden Artist Colors

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Industry Arts and crafts
Predecessor Bocour Artist Colors (unofficially)
Founded 1980
Founder Sam Golden
Headquarters New Berlin, New York
Key people
Adele, Mark, and Barbara Golden and partner Chuck Kelly
Products Artist materials
Website Official website

Golden Artist Colors, or simply GOLDEN, is a manufacturing company that focuses almost entirely on paints used in fine art, decoration, and crafts. Based in New Berlin, New York, the company produces the largest line of acrylic colors that is currently available to artists,[citation needed] including recreations of historic pigments. Golden also manufactures and distributes the Williamsburg line of handmade artists' oil paints, QoR watercolors, as well as Lifestyle Finishes and Pro Finishes lines of decorative and architectural paints and mediums.

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 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 Golden and Bocour (also a painter).

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

In June 1980, ten years after Sam Golden retired from the Bocour Artist Colors company, he founded Golden Artist Colors, Inc. with his wife Adele, son Mark, 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 developing new innovations to make their acrylic paint increasingly durable and sophisticated.[citation needed] In the 21st century, they developed new colors, new mediums, new slow-drying paints and high chroma fluid products.


Acrylic paints[edit]

Orderly rows of paints and mediums rest on a table.
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 "Heavy Body" and "Fluid" mixtures. A variety of mediums are available to alter the viscosity, drying time, sheen, and other material properties of the paint.

  • Heavy body paints are high viscosity and mimic the consistency of oil paints.
  • Fluid paints are liquid but maintain an extremely high pigment load.
  • OPEN acrylic paints were presented in 2007 as a way to mimic oil techniques with acrylics.
  • High Flow acrylic paints replaced Airbrush Colors in July 2013.[3]

Thus, as of 2015, Golden offered four different color formulations for its acrylic paints, as well as different mediums and grounds.

With the release of the High Flow acrylic line, Golden encouraged its use in different-sized markers by offering empty markers as a set.[4]

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 of oil painters. While Open colors and mediums dry slowly, they still dry far more quickly than traditional oil paints and mediums.[citation needed] There are 80 colors available in the OPEN formulation, all match perfectly with the colors in Golden's Heavy Body, Fluid and High Flow color lines. OPEN is the only truly slow-drying acrylic paint available.

Handmade oil colors[edit]

On May 21, 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, "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."[citation needed]

QoR watercolors[edit]

In April 2014, Golden announced a line of "modern" watercolors that replace traditional Gum Arabic with a synthetic binder called Aquazol®, a water-soluble adhesive previously used in art conservation. The paints became available in May of 2014. The new watercolor is said to offer benefits like maintaining intense color when dry, better adhesion to synthetic papers, and higher color density.[5][6] Initially offering 83 colors and four different color sets,[5]. In July 2014, QoR® Synthetic Ox Gall was recalled for safety reasons because of an excess of a preservative.[7]QoR introduced a 24 color set in 2016, and a reduction in the list price of 11 ml tube colors in May of 2017.

Mediums and Gels[edit]

The company offers a number of mediums, glazes, gels and additives with properties that affect the acrylic when they are mixed. The pigment load can be reduced or the final gloss can be more matte or more glossy.

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 acrylic (MSA) varnishes are made for use with both acrylic and oil paints and available in brush-able fluid and aerosol formulas. All the varnishes offered by Golden are removable for conservation and cleaning.

Custom Products[edit]

In addition to its regular line of artists' materials, Golden also produces Custom Products for artists, some of which become available to the general public. These currently include extra high pigment load (High Load) acrylic paints, PVA colors, paste paints, a variety of specialized mediums and additives, stop-out varnish for etching, hard MSA varnish, and mineral spirit acrylic colors for conservators.


  1. ^ "Mural Paints: Current and Future Formulations" by MARK GOLDEN, 2003, The Getty Conservation Institute [1]
  2. ^ Just Paint Newsletter #27
  3. ^ "Golden Artist Colors, Inc. | High Flow". Retrieved 2015-10-19. 
  4. ^ "Golden Artist Colors, Inc. | GOLDEN Professional High Flow Acrylics Marker Set # 959". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  5. ^ a b "Golden Artist Colors, Inc". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  6. ^ "Qor Watercolor | About Us". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  7. ^ "Qor Watercolor | Product Safety Recall - QoR® Synthetic Ox Gall". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 

External links[edit]