Updated: Sep 19
We've compiled a list of some of the best oil paints. Oil paint consists of pigment suspended in a drying oil such as linseed oil and poppy seed oil. The medium is one of the oldest and most respected mediums in the art world and adorns the walls of some of the most famous museums and art institutions. Whether you're new to oil painting or a seasoned oil master this list is for you.
1. Winsor & Newton Artist’s Oil Paint - Best
Winsor & Newton have a long and tested reputation as one of the best oil paints on the market. Their paint is highly rated at AA or A and promises long lasting finish and vibrancy. The paint has a wide colour range and comes in different sizes. They have a rich buttery texture and their colours have a consistent feel and texture making them easy to work with and combine. As a professional oil paint they are not as expensive as some of the competition and even offer a mid-quality oil paint called Winton Oil Colour that has a smaller colour range at more affordable prices.
Winsor & Newton Artist’s Oil Paint
2. Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours - Second Best
Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours are one of the highest quality oil paints on the market and loved by artists worldwide. They are also one of the more expensive oil paints on the market but the high pigment content means the paint spreads a lot further. There are no fillers, extenders or driers in the paint so it maintains its vibrant colours and doesn’t crack over time. The paint has a buttery consistency that mixes well and has a slow drying time.
Michael Harding Artists Oil Colours
3. M Graham Artist’s Oil Color - Third Best
M Graham uses walnut oil rather than linseed or safflower meaning the paint is less prone to yellowing and takes longer to dry. The paint can also be thinned and brushes cleaned using walnut oil reducing the need for solvents. Walnut oil is non-toxic and can be used instead of traditional turpentine when using M Graham Artist’s Oils making this paint a great option for Hong Kong artists with a lack of space. We still advise opening windows and ventilating as much as possible though. The paint tends to flow more allowing for softer work and their exceptionally high pigment loads creates vibrant and rich colours.
M Graham Artist’s Oil Color
4. Sennelier Oil Paints
In 1887 Sennelier opened its doors opposite the Louvre in Paris and quickly gained a reputation as the ultimate standard. The paint has a beautiful buttery texture and a consistency that helped develop the style of Impressionist painters. Favored by artists such as Cezanne, Monet, Gaugin, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall and Hockney, Sennelier oils hang in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries. Today the paint has only improved and Sennelier have added more colours to the range. The paint is made using safflower oil which prevents yellowing and has a silky finish and faster drying time.
Sennelier Oil Paints
5. Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors
Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors were formulated by artist Carl Plansky which following his death was taken over by Golden Artist Colours. The paints are milled in small batches and handmade to a beautiful standard. The paints are regarded as professional standard and have excellent lightfastness ratings. The paint has a more grainy texture than some others and is more expensive than other paints mentioned on this list.
Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors
6. Old Holland Oil Colours
Old Holland have been running since 1664, making them the world’s oldest paint manufacturer. As a result they have a reputation as one of the best oil paints on the market. The paint uses no fillers or artificial dryers and is loaded with pigment. The result is brilliant colours and a thick, creamy paint. The paint also has one the best lightfastness ratings on the market. Old Holland is one of the more expensive paints on the list but its high pigment content means that the paint can spread quite far.
Old Holland Oil Colours
7. Gamblin Artist Oils
Gamblin Artist Oils is another great paint with a focus on studio health. The paint can be used without solvents. Instead they can be thinned and cleaned using linseed oil. The paint is rich and buttery and more affordable than other paints on the list. They have a great student line called 1980 with a more limited colour range but a more affordable price tag that is perfect for people new to oils who want to explore the medium.
Gamblin Artist Oils
8. Blockx Artist Oil Colours
Blockx Artist Oil Colours is a professional grade oil paint comparable to Old Holland and Michael Harding. The paint is high in pigment resulting in rich colours and has a soft texture. Blockx oil is made primarily using poppy seed oil which is less prone to yellowing over time. The paint has excellent lightfastness and a long drying time allowing for wet-on-wet painting and vibrant soft details.
Blockx Artist Oil Colours
9. Schmincke Mussini Oil Colours
Schmincke Mussini Oil Colours are a beautiful professional grade paint with a paste-like consistency. The oil paint is uniquely made up of a series of oils including linseed, safflower oil and poppy seed oil. Most interestinglythey also use damar resin in the oil paint’s production meaning the paint has a more glossy finish. This unique use of oils and resin means the colours dry evenly with a luster finish. The paint also enjoys tension-free drying so paintings are less likely to crack over time.
Schmincke Mussini Oil Colours
10. Van Gogh Oil Colour
Van Gogh Oil Colour makes the list as a affordable student / emerging artist oil paint. The paint is developed by Royal Talens as a more economical choice for student artists. The paint has a surprisingly high pigment load and excellent lightfastness. The consistency is quite soft and on the more runny side for oil paints but are a great option for artists on a tighter budget.
Van Gogh Oil Colour