Robert Gamblin organized Gamblin's palette into Mineral and Modern color groupings to help artists easily choose a palette of colors that best match their artistic intent. Gamblin's colors are also grouped by eras of pigment history: Classical, Impressionist, and 20th Century. Throughout the history of art, paintings have always been a reflection of the materials that were available to artists.
Mineral colors are made from inorganic pigments, that is, metal ores dug from the earth. This group of pigments, which has its origins in cave painting and antiquity, was central to the oil painter's palette from the Renaissance through the Classical Era. From this limited range of earth colors, painters depicted form by drawing large contrasts between the darkest darks and the lightest lights, creating the chiaroscuro (literally, "light/dark") effects so characteristic of classical paintings.
Mineral colors grey down when mixed with white, which is perfect for capturing the colors of the natural world. Mineral-based pigments have larger pigment sizes and lower tinting strengths than modern colors. They are leaner and naturally more matte. Mineral colors are mostly opaque. Mineral colors have a Lightfastness rating of Excellent (I).