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Art is a lot like science.
Art is subjective, unquantifiable and not universal, whereas science is objective, quantifiable and has universal validity.
Despite these differences, the common thread that runs between the two is that they seem very appealing from the outside and we enjoy their benefits too, but their actual practice is tough and takes years to master.
Choosing one among so many options can pose problems, given how saturated the market is. To make the process of buying paints easier, we’re featuring the 11 best oil paints for beginners & professionals artists alike. So, read on to find your perfect paint!
Best Oil Paints for Beginners & Professionals Artists
- Best Oil Paints for Beginners & Professionals Artists
- Winsor & Newton’s Winton Oil Color Pack
- Blockx Rose Lake Oil Paint Tube
- Van Gogh Oil Colour Tube Set
- Williamsburg Traditional Colors Set
- MyArtscape Oil Paint Set
- Schmincke Mussini Resin Oil Color
- Old Holland Set of 6 Oil Paints
- Michael Harding Oil Paint Set
- Bob Ross Soft Oil Color Tubes
- M. Graham Five-Color Oil Set
- Sennelier Artists’ Extra Fine Oil Paint
- Best Oil Paints Buyer’s Guide
We’re kicking the list off with Winsor & Newton’s Winsor range of oil colors.
The pack contains ten 21ml tubes, each containing ten distinct colors. Winsor & Newton (Winton, get it?) claim that this pack is perfect for beginners and amateurs, as the cost of inputs is deliberately kept low. Read on to find out more about it.
- Ideal for student and amateur artists or more accomplished...
- A high level of pigmentation provides good covering power...
- Introductory set that includes ten 37ml tubes
The Winton pack contains ten distinct colors, which are Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Cadmium Red Deep Hue, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue, Permanent Green Light, Viridian Hue, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Ivory Black, Titanium White, though these may vary slightly.
As mentioned, the pack emphasizes affordability, so the pigments used in the colors are reasonably priced. The pack retains gloss and sheen too, with different colors featuring different levels of luster.
During our time with the Winton pack, we found it to be suitable for beginner and semi-professional artists alike.
Beginning with the pigmentation, the color is incredibly strong, and unlike some of the other paints we’ve seen, it is consistent and the consistency does not vary while painting.
The consistency can be attributed to the stiffness of the paint. Unlike other paints, which are thin and get washed out with ‘knife-strokes,’ the Winton paints retain their beauty.
In our pack, the choice of paints was very well-judged, and most of our needs were met. The paints have a certain shine and luster to them which is also very well-judged. If you feel the need to adjust it, you can always dilute the paint more.
Finally, we are satisfied with the quantity of the paints as, at this price point, 21 ml bottles are adequate.
The second item on our list is the solitary paint tube sold by Blockx. The particular variant of these colors we’re trying out today is rose-colored. This paint is pricey and is aimed squarely at professionals. The price is, however, justified, as this paint is of the highest quality and uses the best available materials.
This paint is made by Blockx, a family in Belgium which has been in this business since 1865.
- Rose lake no425 is a single pigment transparent quinacradone...
- Blockx oils are the highest quality, made by the blockx...
- All colors are lightfast, there are no fugitive colors such...
- Blockx Earth Colors are famed for their richness, often...
According to Blockx, the paint is made of pure pigment and oil. There are no fillers, hues, tones, tints, extenders, or driers.
The color is ground on slow-turning stone mills with poppy oil [no yellowing linseed here]. Blockx claims that there are no ‘fugitive’ colors such as alizarin crimson present in this rose paint.
During our time with the Blockx tube, we concluded that this paint is probably the best paint in the market and is intended for professional applications.
Beginning with the pigmentation, Blockx restrains from using hues and tints and the like, and it shows. The pigmentation is strong, the colors look natural, and the use of expensive poppy oil means the colors won’t fade when dry. Our particular color, Rose, probably represents a typical natural rose better than nature itself!
The paint is incredibly thick, meaning it will not wash out despite your best (worst?) attempts.
We do wish that the quantity were more, as, for the price of one tube, you could get multiple paints in a beginner pack. But, considering that this is a truly professional paint, the price could be justified.
The third item on our list comes from an ambitiously-named Dutch brand, Van Gogh. Like the Winton pack, they offer a ten-tube pack. This pack aims to strike a balance between quality, quantity, and affordability.
- This pack contains 20 ml tubes in 10 unique shades
- Each color contains a high level of pigments, so you get...
- Package Dimensions :10.0"L x6.0"H x 6.0"W
- Package Weight : 4.0 pounds
The pack contains ten tubes containing 20 ml of paint each. The colors in this pack are Titanium White, Azo Yellow Light, Azo Yellow Deep, Azo Red Medium, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue Phthalo, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black and Permanent Green Deep.
The paints support layered painting, meaning you can apply multiple layers of paint on an area by letting the preceding layer dry.
Van Gogh claims that the colors have good to excellent lightfastness ratings and feature a high level of pigmentation. The pack retails for 40 USD on Amazon.
Royal Talens own the brand.
During our time with the Van Gogh set, we concluded that this is a pack for professionals who aren’t ready to pay Blockx-high prices just yet.
Beginning with the lightfastness, we were pleasantly surprised by the incredible lightfastness ratings of these paints. Most of them are rated 1, meaning they won’t fade for over 100 years, whereas some won’t fade for 50 to 100 years! This is due to the use of natural ingredients and intense pigment concentration.
Speaking of pigmentation, the colors are vibrant and do not look faded, indicating that the pigmentation is top-class. The gloss and consistency are top-class as well.
Lastly, the colors work well for layered painting, and there is minimal loss of nuance or visibility of the lower layers.
The fourth item on our is the Williamsburg Traditional Colors Set. As is evident from the name, this set is aimed at artists who are looking for conservative colors.
The pack contains 11 ml tubes of 9 colors.
Williamsburg has been in the business of making traditional paints since 1980 and are a subsidiary of Golden.
- Contains eight 11ml colors and one 37ml tube of Titanium...
- Cadmium Lemon - Cadmium Yellow Med - Cadmium Red Med -...
- Ultramarine Blue - Cerulean Blue - Raw Sienna - French Raw...
- Handmade Oil Colors known for their excellent lightfastness
The pack contains nine colors, namely Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Red Medium, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Raw Sienna and French Raw Umber and a giant 37 ml tube of Titanium White.
Instead of using synthetic chemically-treated oils to bind their paint, Williamsburg makes their oils by hand. To continue the traditional feel, Williamsburg deliberately makes their paints slightly gritty.
These paints are slightly pricey and are intended for niche applications.
During our time with the Williamsburg paints, we found them to be as conservative and traditional as morning tea for the British Queen!
Beginning with the texture and the feel, as mentioned, Williamsburg deliberately makes the paints gritty to ensure that the traditional feel is not lost. The effort is apparent, as there is a slight ‘noise’ to the paints when they are applied.
As mentioned, Williamsburg uses handmade oil to bind their paint and refrains from using synthetic chemically-treated oil.
While this drives the cost up, it pays dividends as far as lightfastness is concerned, and these colors have excellent ratings.
The fifth item we’re featuring is the set of 12 oil paints by MyArtscape, with each tube containing 21 ml of paint. These paints are of professional quality, and MyArtscape claims that they are non-toxic. They also come with a one-year replacement guarantee if you’re unsatisfied.
- OIL PAINT SET - 24 x 12ml tubes of professional artist grade...
- LASTING VIBRANT COLORS - lay down firm, superbly pigmented...
- GLOSSY FINISH - a thick and highly mixable oil paint with a...
- 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - Enjoy peace of mind with our...
The pack contains 12 colors of paint, namely Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, Cadmium Red, Light Green, Phthalo Green, Cerulean Blue, Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Lamp Black.
MyArtscape claims that their paints are non-toxic and meet ASTM D-4236 and EN71-3 (CE) safety criteria. MyArtscape also claims that they use a superior pigment dispersion method to maintain vividity as well as lightfastness.
The paint is bound together by linseed oil.
We experienced this product for ourselves and found it to be one of the best color sets for beginners on the market today.
Thanks to MyArtscape’s pigment dispersion method, the colors are vivid and do not wash out very quickly. The pigmentation itself is pretty strong, and colors look natural.
While lightfastness is tough to measure in the short run, we’re not sure the paints will retain their color as the binding is done using linseed oil in a bid to reduce cost. This might lead to premature yellowing of the colors.
MyArtscape does offer a one-year replacement guarantee, so, if you remain unsatisfied with the quality of the paint, you can get it replaced at any point within a year.
Lastly, the quantity offered by this set is impressive, offering 75% more paint than traditional paints.
The sixth item on our list is the Resin Oil Color set by Schmincke. H. Schmincke & Co. is a German company engaged in the business of making art and craft supplies.
This range of colors includes 108 slow-drying paints.
The particular item we tried out from the lineup is the Translucent Cyan paint.
According to Schmincke, the ‘old masters’ used to blend their paints not only with oil but also with resin, and that’s what Schmincke has done. They say examples of resin-blended paint can be found in Byzantine art.
The paint comes in a 35ml tube. This particular item is part of the ‘Mussini’ line up.
During our time with the Schmincke paint, we found that it balances affordability and quality very well.
The quantity you get from each tube is massive. 35 ml tubes are the largest we’ve seen so far in this list.
The resin binding of these paints makes them unique. It also makes them less susceptible to fade and yellowing when compared to conventional oil-based paints.
Another benefit of resin binding is that the colors are not prone to washing out as they are stiffen. Due to their stiffness, they are very vivid.
The pigmentation is strong with these colors, though sheen is minimal, a downside of the resin binding.
The seventh item on our list is the set of 6 oil paints by Old Holland.
Old Holland is a Dutch manufacturer of art and craft supplies, and it has been in the business since 1664.
The introductory pack we’re featuring has 18 ml tubes and is aimed squarely at beginners.
Their lineup consists of 168 colors with various quantities and price points.
The pack consists of six colors, namely Burnt Umber, Holland Magenta, Scheveningen Red Light, Ultramarine Blue, Scheveningen Yellow Light, and Titanium White.
The paints come in at an affordable price point and are perfect for beginners. Most of the colors have excellent lightfastness ratings, either ATSM 1 or 2.
Unfortunately, the listing of this pack is infuriatingly vague and lacks a lot of crucial details, so this section must be cut short.
During our time with the Old Holland set, we concluded that is a decent set for those looking to make a name for themselves.
Starting with the consistency and texture, the paints remain more-or-less consistent under moderately heavy brushstrokes and have a uniform texture. However, as they’re not very stiff, they are prone to washing out.
The pigmentation is strong, but the colors look slightly artificial. Whether that’s due to the paints’ construction or something to do with the pigmentation itself, we can’t tell.
Lightfastness is difficult to judge but the ratings are great, so these colors won’t fade prematurely.
Even for an introductory pack, quantity is amazing, at 18 ml per tube.
The eighth item on our list is aimed squarely at professionals with deep pockets. Michael Harding is one of those few people who is an artist as well the creator of high-quality professional oil-based paints.
Michael Harding has been in the business of manufacturing art and craft supplies since 1982.
The item we’re featuring is the starter set containing six paints, each 40 ml in quantity.
- Michael Harding Paint Set and New Wave Palette
- Michael Harding Handmade Artist Oil Colours made in England
- Modern Masters Set (Six 40ml tubes): Warm White Series 1,...
- New Wave Art Posh 12x16 Grey Palette
This starter pack features six colors, namely Yellow Lake, Titanium White, Scarlet Lake, Yellow Ochre Deep, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue.
Michael Harding claims that these paints are of the highest quality and perfect for professionals. They claim that the colors are brimming with pigment and the lack of fillers means that the colors are as strong as they can be.
Michael Harding claims that the paints are best used for glazing.
During our time with the Michael Harding Starter Set, we found it to be kind of an oddball, but it has some redeeming features.
Starting with the consistency, Michael Harding describes its paints as “buttery smooth,” and we’re not inclined to disagree.
The paints apply very smoothly and do not pose any problems like resin-based paints. The texture of the paints is great, and there is minimal grain. Pigmentation is strong, and the colors look bright and vivid.
Who doesn’t love Bob Ross? The former Air Force officer delighted, soothed and inspired us with his timeless show, The Joy of Painting. If you don’t know who Bob Ross was, we suggest you YouTube him after reading this article!
This pack comes with 22 colors, each in 37 ml tubes. It is intended for professionals and amateurs alike.
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The set includes 22 colors, namely Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, Dusty Rose, Flower Pink, Indian Yellow, Ivory Black, Magenta, Mauve, Raw Umber, Sap Green, Titanium White, Transparent Black, Turquoise, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian Green, Warm White and Yellow Ochre. Each color comes in a 37 ml tube.
These paints emphasize ease of blending and mixing over everything else as that’s what Bob Ross’ painting technique was famous for. Though bound by linseed, these paints contain other oils as well, to make mixing easier.
The brand claims that the paints are highly pigmented and are best adapted for painting floral scenery and other landscapes.
Lightfastness ratings are great and vary from tube to tube, though they are usually around ATSM 1 and 2.
During our time with Bob Ross’ paints, we felt as if we were calmly painting scenery and delivering nuggets of wisdom to the camera.
Jokes aside, these paints are great for amateurs and semi-professionals. We tried mixing the paints and found them infinitely more blendable than the competition.
They can be mixed endlessly to create as many hues and tints as you wish to have. However, blendability does come at the cost of pigmentation, and the colors by themselves aren’t as pigmented as we’d like.
Lightfastness ratings are tough to judge but, judging from the ratings on the tubes, the paints are adequate should hold their own against time. Besides, these paints are intended for casual applications.
The penultimate item on our list is the Five-Color Oil Set by M. Graham. These paints are on the costlier side of the spectrum but are intended for pure professionals. Graham has been in the business of producing art and craft supplies since 1994.
- Artist quality oil paint made with walnut oil
- Increased pigment loads for stronger more vibrant colors
- Colors retain their clarity and are free from the...
- Solvent free system of traditional oil painting
This product contains five paints, each coming in 1.25-ounce containers.
The paints are free from solvent and come with a free walnut oil and walnut alkyd medium.
Graham claims that these paints are manufactured with the same strongly pigmented and lightfast ingredients as its acrylic products. Interestingly, the colors are bound with what M. Graham calls ‘Northwest Honey.’ According to them, this makes layering easy and makes the paints less prone to cracking.
The colors included in the set are Primary Red, Yellow and Blue, along with Ivory Black and Titanium White.
The paints included abide by ASTM-D4236 standards.
During our time with the M. Graham paints, we found them to be very well-rounded paints, with our only complaint being that there should have been more paints in the set.
The paints are highly pigmented and delightfully opaque. They are saturated but not very bright, so maybe M. Graham should work on its paints’ sheen.
The benefits of binding by ‘Northwest Honey’ make themselves apparent during mixing and layering, as the paints mix beautifully (almost as well as Bob Ross’ paints) and do not crack while layering.
The paints are non-toxic and conform to ASTM-D4236 standards; therefore, they’re safe for even young budding artists to use.
Apart from being some of the world’s greatest artists, what do Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Hockney, and Ernst have in common? All of them used Sennelier paints.
Sennelier has been in the business of making paints for fine art applications for over 130 years. Based in Paris, it is one of the most respected names in the industry.
Today, we’re featuring their 8-color set with each color shipping in 40 ml bottles.
- Sennelier Fine Oil Color set of 8-40ml tubes
- High pigment content for clearer mixes
- Use of safflower oil reduces yellowing
- Excellent opacity with satin finish
The paints are bound by safflower oil. Almost all the colors in Sennelier’s lineup have a lightfast rating of 1, meaning they will not lose their vibrancy till a minimum of 100 years. Speaking of vibrancy, Sennelier claims that the colors are loaded to the brim with pigment.
The 8-color set features the following colors:
Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Light, Chinese Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Azure Blue, French Ultramarine and Yellow Ochre.
During our time with the Sennelier paints, we concluded that these are the best paints on the market today, as far as the quality of paint is concerned.
The use of non-yellowing safflower oil to bind the pigments has obvious benefits. The paint is as smooth as a hot knife through butter, and the texture remains consistent, irrespective of the application.
While lightfastness can’t be measured in the short term, the fact that most of these paints have a top-class rating is appreciated.
Lastly, pigmentation is strong, and the colors look natural and vivid.
Best Oil Paints Buyer’s Guide
While choosing the ideal oil paint, keep the following points in mind:
Most manufacturers selling paints at the cheaper end of the price spectrum use linseed oil to bind them. Linseed oil is a cost-effective option and has decent smoothness, but it leads to premature yellowing of the paint. It may lead to washing out of the paint too. Safflower oil is better than linseed oil in every manner.
Some paints are bound by resins. While resins are great for consistency, they make the paint very stiff and difficult to manipulate.
Sometimes, paints have specific intended applications. Some work best for glazing, some work best for ‘knifing,’ etc. Make sure that you buy a paint suitable for your specific application, and similarly, don’t buy a specific application paint for a general purpose.
Lightfastness basically refers to how well the paint can stand the test of time. A lightfastness rating of 1 means the paint will not lose its vibrancy for 100 years or more, two means it might lose vibrancy within 50-100 years, etc.
Level of professionalism
If you’re a budding artist, there’s no need to break the bank and get yourself a paint intended for a professional. Start small and get yourself a cheap paint, then gradually work your way up.
Buying the right oil paint can be a daunting task. The market is saturated with plenty of decent products.
This guide highlights the best 11 of them and has something for every application. We hope you find your ideal paint here.