Choosing the Best Oil Paints for Beginner or Advanced Artists

Oil painting has been around for centuries and continues to be one of the more popular choices for artists today. One of the main reasons for this is the long working time and rich, luminous colors that can be achieved using them. One of the biggest hurdles for getting started with them however, is the complexity of both paint and medium choices that are available. To simplify this, let's break down what makes a good choice of paint and help you decide what's right for you.

Choosing the Best Oil Paints for Beginner or Advanced Artists

Things to consider when choosing oil paints

When it comes to choosing the best oil paints, there are a few factors to consider. One of the most important is the quality of the paint. High-quality paints tend to have a higher pigment load as well as a smoother consistency. They also tend to have better lightfastness, which means they will resist fading over time. Price is another factor to consider and is where the differences lie between artist grade paints and professional grade paints.

High-quality brands of oil paints can be quite expensive, especially for those just starting out. However, it can be worth it to invest in a few high-quality paints and stick to a more limited palette, rather than buying a large number of cheaper paints that may not perform as well. If you plan on selling your art, I would highly suggest that you consider purchasing professional grade paints whereas if you're a hobbyist and are just wanting to try the medium, student grade oils will work great. 

Painting tutorials for artists

Here are some of the best oil paint brands for beginners to advanced oil painters:

1. Gamblin is a brand of oil paint that has quickly gained a reputation for great quality and consistency. They offer a range of oil paints from their regular line of Gamblin oil paints and their more affordable line, Gamblin 1980. The main difference between the two is the quality of pigments used in the paint, consistency, and price. Gamblin oil paints come in a wide range of colors and are a great choice if you want something high-quality without breaking the bank. The 1980 paints are what I would consider to be their entry level paints. They are more suitable for beginners or artists who prefer a looser, more expressive style. I used their artist oils line for years and they are an excellent option for any artist looking to get serious about their work.

2. Winsor & Newton is one of the oldest and most well-respected oil paint brands in the art world with a history dating back to the 1800s and are a popular choice for beginners due to their quality and affordability. They are known for their high-quality pigments that result in vibrant, long-lasting colors, perfect for both beginner and professionals. One of the standout features of Winsor & Newton oils paints is their smooth consistency. Their paints have a smooth, buttery texture that is easy to work with, allowing artists to create fine details with precision. These oil paints also have excellent lightfastness. Winsor & Newton oil paints are a great all-around choice whether you are just starting out or have been painting for years.

3. Michael Harding is a small, artisanal brand of oil paint that is known for its very high-quality pigments and hand-made production process. It was founded in 1982 by Michael Harding himself. This paint brand is known for its commitment to using the finest materials and traditional methods of production. These paints have a smooth and soft feel to them, much like room temperature butter. These oil paints are more expensive than other brands of oil paints. The price is quite worth it in my opinion though, if you can afford them. I've found that colors are superior to the brands previously mentioned here and the consistency is wonderful overall.

4. Old Holland is another well-respected brand of oil paint that has been around since 1664. The company is known for its commitment to using only the best pigments and binders, resulting in a paint line that is highly pigmented, lightfast, and durable. A unique feature of Old Holland paints is their range of rare pigments. They offer a range of colors that aren't available from other companies, including a number of pigments that were used by the Old Masters. This makes Old Holland a great choice for artists interested in high quality materials, historical painting techniques or who want to create unique and nuanced colors in their work. While these paints are also expensive, like Michael Harding, they offer unparalleled quality and consistency. If you are looking for the absolute best oils to work with, I suggest trying out a few colors from either of these top tier brands.

Choosing the Best Oil Paints for Beginner or Advanced Artists

There are of course other brands to look into, but in my experience, these listed above are a perfect place to start. You can find cheaper oils to use, but just know that they will not give you the same results and might limit the range of techniques you can use with them. If you are still unsure, I recommend purchasing a color or two from several brands to see what you like the most. In the end however, time in front of the easel is what is most important and as you spend more time painting, you'll discover what fits your needs best.

How to choose the right oil paint for you

Grow Your Painting Skills and Resources

Instant access to 1000s of royalty-free reference photos of landscapes and wildlife as well as step by step oil painting videos. Checkout My Memberships for more info.


 I'm Chuck Black, landscape and wildlife artist based in Southwest Montana.

Related Posts

This webpage uses affiliate links