Whether you’re new to oil painting or you’re already a somewhat experienced painter, you’ve come to the right place! Our shopping guide will teach you all there is to know about the best products of the year. That way, you’ll be able to pick the right oil painting for your needs, and with great value for money.

Using the experience of Fine Arts professionals and contemporary artists, we introduce you to the incredible opportunities that the world of oil painting has to offer today. We’ll give you the tips and tricks you need to get started on the technique, as well as the best product opportunities available on the market right now.

Key Facts

  • Oil painting is a painting technique that requires a slow drying process. For this reason, it is not recommended for small sketches or quick painting, where you’ll want to prefer other techniques such as watercolor or acrylic.
  • Oil paint offers several advantages. You can constantly modify it, virtually apply an infinite number of layers from generic to concrete. You can also use fillers to create textures and volumes.
  • We have to consider the chromatic range we want to use in our artwork when choosing a specific oil paint. You may, for instance, prefer natural or synthetic pigments. Your ability to control colours and lighting, as well as how easily paints blend together, are also key. This is particularly true if you intend to use transparent techniques such as glazes.

Ranking: The best oil paint products on the Australian market

Our professionals have analysed the products available out there, and we’ve created the following ranking with the very best oil paints. These brands are used by contemporary artists, and offer fantastic value for money. We’ve also briefly explained each product so you can decide for yourself which is most suited to your needs.

No. 1: Derwent Academy Oil Paint

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Derwent is one of the oldest manufacturers in the world, having started to create quality art products in 1832. The brand has built a strong reputation over the decades, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that this set of oil paints is Amazon’s Choice in the category. With a total of 24 colours and 12 millilitres per tube, you’ll be creating all the hues you can think of.

The longer drying time that these paints offer means that you’ll have all the freedom you want to change and tweak your work to your liking. While Derwent paint is a great brand for beginners, it’ll be just as useful for experienced artists, too. Past customers have praised the overall quality of these oil paints, as well as their very affordable price.

No. 2: Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Paint

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Believe it or not, but the English company Winsor & Newton is as old as Derwent, and it has been a force to be reckoned with in the field of fine arts products ever since. This traditional brand of oil paint offers this pack of six colours of 21 millilitres, which include French Ultramarine and Yellow Ochre. It’s a great beginner’s set to play with hues.

This product uses modern pigments of high quality, offering powerful colours. This is why Winsor & Newton is one of the brands most used by Fine Arts students around the world. The great thing is that the tubes offer a large volume of paint, and you’ll have plenty to work with. The consistency of these oil paints is ideal to use paintbrushes or palette knives alike.

No. 3: M. Graham Artist Oil Paint

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Founded 25 years ago by two Fine Arts graduates, M. Graham strives to offer safe, high-quality, solvent-free oil colours for artists to enjoy traditional oil painting. This colour set has everything you need to get started and more, featuring five colours, walnut oil and walnut alkyd mediums. All of these products are manufactured in the United States.

The five colours – Azo Yellow, Napthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green and Titanium White – will allow you to play with hues as you please, and each tube offers a large volume of paint (37 millilitres). The two mediums included in the set mean you can get started right away. This product has received great reviews, and we just love that it’s solvent-free.

No. 4: U.S. Art Supply Oil Paint

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Based in California, TCP Global manufactures all kinds of paint, and U.S. Art Supply is their brand of fine arts products. Now selling their creations all over the world, they offer high quality oil paints. This particular set offers incredible value for money, with a total of 36 colours in 18-millilitre tubes. You’ll be blending all the hues you can think of.

This incredible set also comes with a colour wheel to give you an idea of how to get exactly the hue you want. These oil paints are all non-toxic and acid-free, making them ideal for everyone to enjoy. It is suitable for children aged 3 and above. Based on customer reviews, we’re ready to bet that you’ll appreciate the variety of colours that this set offers.

No. 5: Reeves Oil Paint

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Last but not least, here is a set of 24 oil paints by UK brand Reeves. This product stands out by being water mixable, meaning you won’t have to spend a penny more to start getting creative on canvas – or whichever support you decided to paint on.

Each tube contains 10 millilitres of oil paint. Sets of 12 and 18 colours are also available, if you want to start experimenting with oil painting without spending as much. According to past users, the colours are vibrant and offer good pigmentation.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about oil paint

You should know the key aspects of oil paint before you’re able to purchase the most suitable product for you. This will allow you to know what to focus on when choosing a specific brand. In the following section, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions by artists who use oil painting. We’ve also detailed the key criteria of this technique.

You should choose a product that offers you the widest possible range of pigments. 
(Source: Vadim Guzhva: 36151596/ 123rf.com)

What is oil painting and what are its advantages?

This painting technique consists of a mixture of pigments and uses oil as a binding agent, generally extracted from linseed. It can be used on a wide range of supports, such as canvas (usually linen or cotton), wood, metal or walls.

The greatest advantage that oil painting offers is that you have time to modify your work. This is due to the paint drying slowly. Its preservation and unique colour power are also perks of this type of oil. Thanks to its incredible resistance to deterioration, thousands of works from Antiquity have been preserved to this day.

On the negative side, several artists have told us that they found its drying extremely slow. Painting knowledge is very important, and its use and mastery are quite difficult since there is no limit of layers or mixtures. It loses luminosity with age, and tends to become a little yellowish.

Advantages
  • You can paint without hurry.
  • You have time to modify your work.
  • Wet or dry, the colour doesn’t change. You can truly control the end result.
  • It offers a unique colour power.
  • This technique can be used on a wide range of supports.
  • It is very resistant to deterioration.
Disadvantages
  • It dries slowly.
  • Its use can be difficult at first.
  • Its infinite number of layers can reduce its brightness.

How should I paint with oil?

You need to begin by setting up your composition using a sketch. Overlapping layers will then help you apply the colours, starting with the areas of shade and light. Large areas of colour follow, gradually increasing the brightness. The work is finished off with the last remaining details.

You should know that each new layer needs to be slightly richer in oil than the previous one. Most importantly, it is essential that you wait for a layer of paint to dry before adding another.

What should I dilute my oil paint with?

Linseed oil extracted from flax is extremely important in oil painting, as it serves as both the binder and the diluent. Generations and generations of artists have used essence of turpentine as a diluent. Nowadays, turpentine is as an efficient and affordable diluent, still frequently used.

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Did you know that the contemporary evolution of the painting world has led the oil to be taken from other sources? Nowadays, other plant-based oils such as poppy seed, walnut, hemp and sunflower may be used as alternatives to linseed oil.

What is oil paint used for?

Oil painting is most commonly used to created layered work. It gives volume or thickness to the painting, and is particularly helpful for slow and precise painting. This is because the density of the material makes the paint dry very slowly. Artists wanting to experiment with volume and matter also use oil painting in their surrealist works.

What tool should I use oil paint with?

You can use a paintbrush for a more precise result, or a palette knife for large colour layers. You could even paint with your hands for complete expressivity. Oil paint works on just about any surface you can think of, from canvas to paper or rags, giving a unique feel to your work. You can also combine it with fillers, such as sand or play dough, to create shapes and textures.

How do I paint with a palette knife?

Using this tool offers many advantages:

  • Reducing paintbrush wear
  • Much easier cleaning
  • Possibility of applying thick layers
  • Removing paint in case of mistake

You must avoid using solvents to dilute your oil paint at all costs. Ideally, the consistency of paint when using a palette knife should allow it not to fall off when you turn the palette.

What can I paint with it?

If you’re beginning with this type of paint, we recommend that you have a ready-made sketch with a simple theme like still lifes or the copy of a photo. This is particularly helpful if drawing isn’t really your thing. When you gain experience, you can paint more complex compositions, such as portraits or landscapes.

Tip: It is very useful to have a photograph of the result you’re going for.

Linseed oil extracted from flax is an essential material of oil paint.
(Source: Boyan Dimitrov : 37926607/ 123rf.com)

What are the differences between oil and acrylic painting?

Unlike oil painting, which has the slowest drying process of all techniques, acrylic paint dries instantly. As we mentioned earlier, this can either be an advantage or a disadvantage. It will depend on the type of work you want to create, as well as your level of painting knowledge and style.

Can I use oil and acrylic paints together?

Oil and acrylic paints can indeed be combined. You simply have to remember that they should be used on the support and in a very specific order. First of all, start by applying acrylic paint. This will create a plastic layer on the support, allowing the oil paint to stick effortlessly.

Shopping Criteria

Our experts have extensively researched this type of paint and how it affected their own works. This has allowed us to find out which were the most important criteria when it comes to oil painting. We’ve discussed these aspects in the following section. That way, you’ll be able to pick the right brand of paint based on your needs. These will include your style, level of skill and the result you’re going for.

  • Number of hues
  • Density and transparencies
  • Natural or synthetic pigments
  • Level of pictorial knowledge
  • Ease in mixing

Number of hues

If you’re an advanced oil painter or are thinking of becoming one, you should know that you are advised to stick to one brand. This will allow you to gain experience and therefore greater control over the oil paint of your choosing. This is why we recommend you to pick a brand with the greatest possible range of pigments. That way, you’ll never feel limited in your art.

Having a wide number of colours is always useful, as it will give you the opportunity to create many different hues. That way, you won’t have any trouble creating exactly what you want. Otherwise, if the product you’ve bought doesn’t let you get the tone you want, you may have to change brand. As we mentioned above, getting used to oil paint can be difficult, and it’ll be like starting all over again. You won’t have the same level of control as with the product you usually work with.

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Did you know that the resistance of oil paint has allowed us to preserve incredible works of art that are hundreds of years old? These include Leonardo Da Vinci’s Monalisa, Michelangelo’s fresco of the Sistine Chapel, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch or Munch’s masterpiece The Scream.

Density and transparencies

The level of opacity offered by brands may be important to you depending on the type of art you want to paint. If you want to work with glazes, go for a product that has this characteristic in its range of products. If this isn’t your case, you can look at other features that fit your needs.

Several oil painting techniques exist, such as indirect painting – painting in layers from thinner to denser. The technique called wet on wet – or alla prima – means that you’re painting continuously, without waiting for previous layers to dry. Glazing is very popular, and you’ll be applying glazes over dried, opaque layers of paint. Blending, oiling out and scumbling are other common painting techniques.

Ideally, the consistency of paint when using a palette knife should allow it not to fall off when you turn the palette.
(Source: Antonio Diaz: 45584179/ 123rf.com)

Natural or synthetic pigments

A pigment is a material that changes the light it reflects depending on the absorption of the colour it features. You should know that synthetic pigments have evolved a lot over the year, but the natural ones will always offer a unique touch. Many factors will influence your choice between the two, such as their price or the result you’re looking for.

As you can imagine, natural pigments are extracted from natural elements. They can be of organic origin (carbonic, plant or animal compounds), or of inorganic or mineral origin. Their main advantages are their unique touch and a natural chromatic result. On the other hand, they tend to be more expensive, and their chromatic ranges can be limited.

Synthetic or artificial pigments derive from mass production through chemical reactions. They are more affordable, their chromatic ranges are virtually infinite, and they offer a precise colouring result. On the downside, your work will look more plastic and less natural. Synthetic pigments are also harder to mix with the oils extracted from natural pigments.

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When you start oil painting, you are recommended to work with the base of a previous study of the work, the areas of chiaroscuro (light-dark) and depth of the colours. Make sure you being painting with a sketch or photo. This will help you keep a reference of the final result you want to achieve.

Level of pictorial knowledge

Depending on your skills, you are advised to opt for a less greasy brand of oil paint. The more oil a mixture has, the more difficult it becomes to control the result. Therefore, we encourage beginners to go with a brand like Winsor & Newton or Mont Marte. More experienced artists can go with Derwent, M. Graham  or Grumbacher depending on the results they’re looking for.

A newbie starting off with oil paint should have previously experienced with his topics and the basic rules before creating. These include fat over lean and thick over thin. You should also have a strong support, since this painting technique is quite heavy.

Artists wanting to experiment with volume and matter often use oil painting in their surrealist works.
(Source: Tithi Luadthong: 46375090/ 123rf.com)

Ease in mixing

This is an essential criterion if you want to get very precise colour hues, but also if you end up wanting to mix different brands. In order to combine different styles, different oil paints cannot be rejected by the changing amounts of pigment or oil composition that constitute them.

Oil paint can take several days or even weeks to dry depending on the ambient temperature and humidity. This is why artists consider the mixture to be one of the most important subjects of this painting technique. This is easy, and you can do it throughout your creation progress, mixing your painting over several sessions.

Summary

Oil painting is the oldest painting technique in the world. All we need to create it are pigments and oils, materials that have been around throughout our evolution as a species. This technique remains in constant evolution, and many consider it to be one of the most powerful in terms of colour intensity and durability.

Oil painting is a somewhat difficult technique to master due to the slow drying of its layers. This allows you to change the result at each stage of the oxidation process. This painting technique also gives you an incredible creative freedom, and you’ll be able to play with textures, supports and techniques as you please. Give it a go, and tell us about your experience!

We hope that this guide on oil painting has been useful to you in your search for the type of material or brand that best suits your artistic needs. We strongly invite you to enter this exciting world, or to deepen your knowledge of this painting technique.

Feel free to leave us a comment in the section below, and we’ll be happy to get back to you. You can also share this article on your social media. That way, you’ll help other art lovers with their oil painting creations!

(Source of featured image: Dean Drobot: 49773700/ 123rf.com)

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