What’s The Best Brand of Oil Paint To Buy…

Thanks for the question, Mo.

How do you go about choosing what brand of paints are for you?

It all depends……what are you doing?

If you’re just starting out, learning to paint….go with the brand your instructor is using. This will help you to better emulate their instructions without worrying about how to adjust for pigmentation differences.

Students who are learning to paint with my Basic Techniques of Oil Painting Series, should use a student grade paint, or a TV Artist brand named line of paints. It’s easy to see what brand I use in my preparation video.

There are typically two types of oil paints, student grade and artist grade. The first clue as to which you have is the amount of money you’re paying for your paints. Professional grade or artist grade is more expensive than student grade. And most manufacturers list on their websites which of their products are student grade and which are artist grade.

Student grade is less expensive, and of lower quality. Its recognized that this paint is for teaching people how to paint. Student grade quality level varies by manufacturer. In some cases, fillers may be used that compromise the permanence of the resulting paintings and less pigment is used per tube than in artist quality paint.

The effect is you use more paint to achieve color mixing. With less pigment and more filler, than mixing any specific color will take considerably more paint to achieve than with artist quality paints.

Another consideration is the brushes you’re using. If you’re using big brushes like I do for my landscapes, than I prefer to use all student quality paints. I’m using a lot of paint anyway, so long as I use all student grade I should be fine. Since I make up for the lack of pigment and over-use of fillers by using more paint. Even though I’m using more paint, its still less expensive than artist-grade for the style I’m using. And in a way, its conservative.
Be careful when using TV Artist brands. Most of them are student grade, but priced like artist grade, or just under. Generally, you can achieve the same results with generic brands. But the most important thing is to understand your paints.

Most TV Artists have certification brands which typically means that they have certified instructors to teach their “STYLE” but only when using their products. So if your instructor is adamant about certain such brands, chances are they’re bound to a certification/trademark agreement. There’s nothing wrong with this agreement, its just a fact of life.

When first learning to paint, any brand pretty much will work for you, TV Artist brand, student grade, artist grade. The important thing is painting. Painting everyday. As you gain experience, you’ll gain preferences. So its also important to experiment as well once you’ve gained some proficiency. Then you’ll see what grades you like and what brands you prefer.
Often we’ll see paints labeled as “hue”. This is a tube of student grade paints using less expensive substitute pigments. For example, its not uncommon to see a tube of paint labeled “Cadmium Yellow Light Hue.”  This is essentially the same color as cadmium yellow light but contains a less expensive substitute for the more expensive cadmium yellow pigment. Just because a pigment is less expensive does not mean it is inferior. As long as you are aware of its behaviour, you should be perfectly happy with what you are purchasing.
Artist grade paints are rich in pigments, have well behaved and predictable properties and you use considerably less paint to achieve your desired color. Whereas their price tag is staggering when purchasing your first full set, the maintenance fee for replenishing paints is quite modest and not that much more than student grade.

I was at a local art supply store the other day and bumped into a professional artist. He had four or five tubes of Winsor-Newton Winsor brand paints. I told him I was surprised to see him holding student grade. He said he sells his works just fine with this level of paint, and he was quite happy with the results.

That’s the answer…..what makes you happy?. What works for you? That’s the brand you should use. Most of my paintings in oils are student grade paintings. And yes, I know the probability of my paintings yellowing after 100 years is probably pretty good. But, I’m going to enjoy them that the first 100 years.

I like to use TV Artist brands when teaching classes as they’re reliable and available everywhere. I also like the Winton brand student grade paints and I use Gamblin and Holbeim professional grade paints.

If your preference is the least exensive, than student grade will do that quite nicely for you.