There is a very large choice of oil paint out there. And the price range is equally large! A tube of oil paint can be as cheap as a couple of $ but it can go up to over $400 (check this cerulean out or this original Chinese vermillion) for a single tube of paint.

An art materials store like the US based Dick Blick or the UK based Jacksons has around 23 different brands of oil paint in stock. And that's not counting the water-based oils, alkyds, and oil sticks. So what are the best brands, where to find the best quality paint? I hope this overview of my favourite brands will be of some use to you.

Of course I have not tried out all brands, but I will share what I know, like and can recommend.  If I learn to love another brand not listed here I will amend this post accordingly. Please do add your own experience and favourites in the comments!

I also created a video about my favourite oil paints. You can watch it below.


Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase through these carefully chosen links. It will cost you nothing  extra and you would support this blog for which I would be most grateful.


Sophie’s Favourite Oil Paints

Vasari 

American brand of fantastic quality. Amazing grey tones and earth colours. Spreads far and wide, fabulous pigment load. Fluid paint. Good for glazing and delicate thin paint applications.
Starts at £12.60 / $13.95 for series 1, 40ml tube. website

Professional

Sophie Ploeg oil painting

Sophie's
Favourite


Michael Harding

British brand of paint. Rich and deep jewel colours, spreads easily and mixes beautifully. Lots of info on Harding’s website.  
Starts at £6.20 / $8.78 for series 1, 40ml tube. website

Professional

Sophie Ploeg Oil painting

Sophie's
Favourite


Winsor & Newton Artists Oils

British brand of oil paints. Long history and well established brand. Excellent all-round paint, suitable for all types of application. Good value for money.  
Starts at £5.80 / $6.30 for series 1, 37ml tube. website

Student/Professional

Sophie Ploeg oil painting

Old Holland

Traditional and long established Dutch paint brand, making fantastic professional paint. Huge choice of colours, many unique to Old Holland. Thick and buttery paint. Suitable for impasto. Will need a medium for thinner applications, as can feel a bit dry at times.
Starts at £7.20 / $10.19 for series 1, 40ml tube. website

Professional

Sophie Ploeg oil painting

Schmincke Mussini

Beautiful paint from a German brand. Each colour has its own unique mix of ingredients such as linseed oil, damar resin and safflower oil. Beautiful luminous paint, with a unique smell, especially in transparent earth colours. Fluid paint. Some people don’t like damar in paint.
Starts at £8.30 / $12.18 for series 1, 40ml tube. website

Professional

Sophie Ploeg oil painting

Sophie's
Favourite


Talens Rembrandt

Dutch paint of great quality. Probably my first oils, if I remember correctly. Great colours, nice fluid paint. Affordable pricing. Can be a little oily.
Starts at £5.60 / $8.43 for series 1, 40ml tube. website

Student/Professional

Sophie Ploeg oil painting

Other paints

I also use Langridge (see my review and buy here), an Australian paint which I did not include as it is not for everyone (although an amazing paint) and  Blockx, a Belgium brand of paints, which I don’t know well enough to include in my favourites. I’ve only got a couple of tubes. 

Student Paints

I am not sure I know of any really bad paints (unless you count the stuff you can buy in the kids department of a stationary store) so it is probably hard to go wrong. You get what you pay for so you cannot expect professional quality from an affordable student brand.  Well-known and rated student brands are Winsor & Newton Winton, Talens Van Gogh, and Daler Rowney Georgian. But even as a student, I would recommend going for the professional range if you can afford it. 


Prices are taken from Jacksons and Dick Blick.

About the author 

Sophie

Sophie is an art historian, artist, art tutor, and writer. She writes on art history and painting (oils and pastel). The 17th century is probably her favourite era, although the ancient Romans are currently fighting for the lead spot. She is currently researching lace in Tudor portraiture.

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  1. Hi Sophie

    So glad I found you via the Jackson’s site. I’d be interested in your thoughts on water soluble oils. Ive been using them for my sea/coastal paintings straight from the tube or with just a little linseed oil if necessary and often over a under painting of thinner water diluted paint. This seems to work well for me and reading your post has been reassuring as being self taught I always worry that I’m missing something vital out! I started using them as I had all the misconceptions and concerns about mediums, fumes and rules and just liked the idea of simplicity. I now know that I can apply this technique to ordinary oils (apart from the under paint) so the only advantage they really seem to have is with brush washing.
    Was wondering if you’ve tried them at all and what you feel about their performance? Also do you know if I can mix them with ordinary oils ok or if their drying times may differ? And I’ve probably missed it but what do you clean your brushes with without having fumes?

    Many thanks! Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah! I have used Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils a long time ago – they were my first steps into oils. I quite liked them but they feel a bit like student paint to me. The quality of ‘normal’ oil paint is often (depending on brand) so much better. When I realised I did not need toxic solvents and could still paint with ‘normal’ oils, I soon moved over. I clean my brushes with brush soap, like Master’s soap (but there are lots of brands). You can also clean with linseed oil, and then wash out the linseed oil with soapy water. You can mix water-soluble oils with normal oils, but obviously it then loses its water-solubility. Yes, it is ok if their drying times differ – within normal oils different pigments have different drying rates as well – you can still mix colours etc. I would not mix alkyd paints with normal oils though, those are very fast-drying paints and would not mix well with normal oils. Feel free to keep asking, happy to help! Hope this made sense at all. Happy painting!

      1. Hi Sophie

        That’s fab thanks so much for all the info it genuinely helps! For years I worked in fine detail with colour pencil then gradually I needed to be more expressive and launched into the oils and bigger pieces. I’ve been wondering about switching over to ‘normal oils’ so you’ve confirmed that it’s a good move to make. Sometimes we just need that ‘permission to try’ and your open and honest approach is perfect.

        It’s funny I’ve also recently been getting into soft pastels and was looking for more info on the Jackson’s site and found you, then discovered your website and the treasure trove of information you have there; so also many more questions about oil paints and techniques now answered as well, thank you!

        Sarah

  2. Hello Sophie,
    I read through your various comments on your favourite oil paints. Its given me some idea
    on which I might be able to change from one brand to another. For many years I have been
    using a brand called Lukas (German I think). My usual Art Shop does not stock them any more.
    What is your view on Lukas? Do you know of a Art Shop I could buy the brand from? Could you
    name a brand that is similar in quality?
    I would be grateful for some feedback.
    Kind Regards,
    Tom McMahon

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. I think Lukas is still widely available, for example, Lukas Studio here at Jackson’s. There’s also Lukas 1862 in some online shops like Great Art and Jerry’s Artarama. Lukas 1862 says it has ‘driers’ in them. I don’t know what that means but that often refers to solvents and other nasty ingredients. Do they smell of solvents? It also contains beeswax and sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is generally not used for oil paints so I wonder why they are using this. I don’t know if all those additives are a good idea. I could not tell you. I have never tried them, I must admit, so I cannot say much about them. If it was me, I would work with an oil paint brand that has less potential problems. But that’s just me and I’ve never tried them (nor will I ever). Hope that helps!

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