Have you ever found yourself in front of the rows and rows of oil paints unable to decide which ones were best suited for you? Have you found yourself confused by the many manufacturers of oil paints and their claims?
Knowing which oil paint is best suited for your particular needs can not only save you money but valuable time that you could otherwise be using to work in the studio.
I’ve sorted through the many manufacturers and rated them so that it will make it easy for you next time you are making your supply list for your studio.
Professional (Artist Grade) vs. Student Grade
In order to be confident in the type of paint you are seeking, you must evaluate the purpose of your painting and how much expense you want to incur. Specifically, you must consider professional or artist grade versus student grade oil paints.
Student grade oil colors are blended replicas of the real thing. They use less real pigments and lots of inexpensive fillers which dilutes the intensity of the color. They tend to come in larger quantities and are quite economical.
You may choose to use these paints if you are a student, a beginner, or hobbyist. Or perhaps your budget allows only for economical paint, but in any case realize that if you haven’t worked with professional oils you most likely won’t notice a difference with student grades.
For discerning connoisseurs that won’t settle for anything less than the best, professional
artist grade oil colors can be expensive, and are certainly more costly than student oils.
They are commonly cataloged into six series by rarity and value, Series 1 (or A) being the most plentiful and least expensive, and Series 6 (or F) being the most rare and most expensive.
Professional or Artist grade paint also tends to come in smaller tubes since they are mostly pure pigment with superior oil binders, and therefore extend a long way in contrast to student paints.
When using them to their fullest potential, you will certainly notice the difference in hue quality and intensity of professional paints.
Here are my 9 top picks:
Just like the rest of the retail world, certain brands provide particular qualities indicative of their reputations.Learn what brand you will mostly likely prefer, based on cost, purpose, and specifications, before you head out the store. To help you, below are the most popular and commonly stocked brands, including a pricing guide.
#1. Old Holland Classic Oil Colors $$$$$$$$$$ (professional)
Old Holland prides itself on intensity of the colors and great covering power. Highest quality and highest price. They contain no fillers or waxes and only lightfast pigments are used. This is the ultimate oil paint for the true connoisseur.
#2. Holbein Artist’s Oils $$$$$$$ (professional)
Pure pigments at a lower price, Holbein boasts consistent viscosity, color, tone, application, and adhesion.
#3. Schmincke Mussini Oils $$$$$$(professional)
Schmincke Mussini Oils contain natural resins for a balanced drying process with reduced aging and long-term cracking. Good for painting in layers and for glazing techniques.
#4. Sennelier Oils $$$$$$(professional)
One of the oldest paint manufacturers in Europe, Sennelier was once the choice for Pablo Picasso. Combines highest quality pigments with highest quality manufacturing processes.
#5. Gamblin $$$ (student-professional)
Gamlin Artists Colors Company is dedicated to making artist’s colors at reasonable prices. They contain lightfast pigments blended with linseed oil and create colors with luscious working properties. Many professionals use Gamblin oil colors as they combine the best of quality with the best of economy. I have used Gamblin for many years and it remains one of my favorites.
#6. Winsor & Newton Artist’s Oil Colors $$$ (student-professional)
World renowned, Winsor & Newton is one my favorite brands of professional oil paint. They contain the highest level of pigmentation consistent with good handling properties, unsurpassed covering power and permanence.
#7. Rembrandt Extra Fine Oils $$ (student)
Rembrandt oils are well known for their economical color strength and excellent lightfastness.
#8. Grumbacher Oil Colors $$ (student)
Comparable to Winsor & Newton’s Winton Artist’s Oil Colors in price and quality. Grumbacher at one time was a leader in manufacturing quality oil colors. But this giant was bought out by Tupperware, and let’s face it, what does Tupperware know about making oil paints? The quality of this oil paint has declined significantly over the years.
#9. Winsor & Newton Winton Oils $ (student)
Winton Oils combine fine raw materials and modern techniques to suit any painting style at an economical price.
So the world of oil paint manufacturers doesn’t have to be so confusing after all.
If you have a favorite oil paint that isn’t listed above, or if you think any of these are out of place or don’t belong here, I would certainly like to hear your suggestion in the comments.