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Color brand choice - Oil paint

Hi Friend,

Could you please suggest choosing artist good quality oil paint and yes reasonable price. Sorry for this.

I want to put little serious work on canvas. Initially i was using Sennelier Rive Gauche, Daler Rowney Georgian. And Winton and Newton.

Till now I am liking Winsor brand. But Very expensive. Hence was using Winton series.
But am not that very sure whether I can go with Winton for serious work.

Could you please suggest as am really confused and stuck.



  • Chumki

    12 Best Oil Paints for Beginners and Professionals


  • What do you mean when you say you are not sure about Winton for serious work?  Do you mean it will limit your expression, or are you worried about it lasting?

    Personally, when I am selling stuff (I do not sell art),  I want to get top quality materials, so that I do not get problems down the road.  I do not insist on crazy stuff, but if something happens, and a person got hurt (guitar bridge letting go), or the product just failed to please, it would not be worth it.  My guess is Winton will hold up fine.  But If I was selling I would use good materials, and charge whatever additional amount it cost.  If you are selling paintings the cost of materials should be nominal.

    Expression wise, a lot of people dis Winton.  Some of the issues can be bogus, but overall there are better paints.  However if you have used both grades of WN, I would assume you already knew how they handled.

    WN Artist grade paints are standard.  That is why Mark recommends them to people who do not have access to his paints.  You can get them pretty much anywhere.  I got some when they went on sale.  They were actually selling for less than the Winton.  Though colours were not fully stocked.  I hit different stores and did OK.
  • Hi Tam,
    I understand you are right.
    But due to budget constraints am giving it a 2nd thought.

    1. Winsor & Newton oil color- Artist brand and very good indeed.
    2. Winsor & Newton Winton oil color- Student grade,. My question is about its quality if I can go with it for my painting series which is for seeling purpose.
    3. Sennelier Rive Gauche - This is the 3rd choice in my list.

    I hope these details help to understand my requirement.
    Please suggest.

  • edited May 2020
    Student grade tend not to be of good quality as they are lower in pigment. I would go for W&N Artist colours if you can.
  • Student grade paint will have less pigment than the professional grade.  The better paint will go further so the cost will probably even out.
  • a good rule in life is "If you need something, buy the best you can afford."  If you use artist grade or premium paints with their higher pigment load and less fillers you will be able to paint with a limited palette and mix any color you need. The less pigment in student grade paints require more paint to tint the mixture and therefore you use more than necessary and wastes paint and money.
  • Hi All,

    You all are right.
    I will go for an Artist grade paint.  :3

    Thank you again
  • Not all "artist quality" paint is equal.

    Winsor Newton is poor quality compared to superior brands. Why? Because they still put junk zinc pigment in their white, they use safflower oil as a binder instead of just linseed oil, and they use questionable organic pigments for classic pigments like burnt sienna instead of just using the traditional inorganic super lightfast oldschool burnt sienna. They probably use additional bad fillers like aluminum stearate which leads to other problems as well. Avoid winsor newton if your paintings are good and you want them to last.

    Rublev is the best brand because they only use pure pigment bound in linseed oil without additional fillers like wax or aluminum stearate etc. It's nice to paint with as well. Might be a bit more expensive than WN though.

    Gamblin is a better affordable alternative. Definitely better than WN. No question.
  • I don't whether you can buy this or not...I use Daniel Smith oil paints. These are amazing paints. The paints not that expensive.
  • edited May 2020

    I found this review of 19 well known brand oil paints very informative

    it reviews W&N Artist colours, Winton, Rublev as well as Michael Harding which are expensive but beautiful paints I think, having bought a set of 6.
  • Since Winsor & Newton was gobbled up by the large corporation Colart its production has mostly been outsourced to china and quality of the products diminished considerably. Like other brands that have been bought out like Liquitex and Conte A Paris it relies on it's brand name rather than the quality of the product these days.
  • edited May 2020
    The best paints I've used are an Australian brand named Langridge. I don't say this just because I am an Aussie - they really are excellent. They are just pure pigment and a little oil and have great covering power. There are no fillers/extenders in them.  I've tried many other brands and found none as good as Langridge.   But they are not exactly cheap. Fortunately, the colours I use most, TW, UB, BU, Arylide Yellow and quinacridone Crimson, are quite reasonably priced. But some of  their colours such as the cadmiums and cobolts are very expensive but also very powerful and so you don't need to use much. 

    If you're painting a work for sale I think it's advisable to use the best paints you can afford.
  • @tassieguy
    I'm pretty sure that is the brand Andrew Tischler uses too
  • edited May 2020
    Yes, I believe that is so, @Intothevoid. I seem to remember from his videos that for painting water he likes to use Langridge's cobalt teal which is $110 for 110ml. Not cheap.  :)
  • @Intothevoid,
    Do you know when W&N started being outsourced to China ?

    As I bought a fait amount of mine in 2017.
  • @MichaelD
    I'm not sure when it switched as I don't use them but there should be an obligatory 'made in china' on the tube somewhere on the back. I know they used to make their paints in france.
  • @Intothevoid très bon, I have the French ones.

    Its good to know about them not being so good now they are made in China, I doubt i will buy them in future if thats the case.
  • @MichaelD
    C'est tres bien =)
    I'm guessing outsourcing to china saves on costs but apparently there has been a drop in pigment count and quality. I find it a little annoying that companies like Colart can buy out established brand names, change production methods and live off the back of established prestige. I purchased a limited edition set of soft pastels from Conte a Paris a while ago, really nice tin with Depuis (since) 1795 on the front, looked on the back and it has it's french office address...all good until I saw the small print 'made in china'. Conte is another Colart acquisition.
    You have to be so careful these days.
    For oils I use Mark's Geneva
    Acrylics Sennilier
    Watercolours Schminke
    Charcoal Nitram
    Pencils Faber
  • edited May 2020

    Sacra bleeding blue (as my dad used to say)  :)

    Yea thats more than a little dishonest. I only looked a little but didn't see the manufacturing country of origin on the W&N site. I guess the truth-big company takes over well established brand and churns out inferior product-wouldnt help it sell. 

    Ive tried a few sets of oils over the years
    Rembrandt-  Ok-ish
    Williamsburg-have only tried a bit of one tube, a bit grainy in texture.
    Old Holland-I like them
    Michael Harding-A definite favourite with no fillers and crap, lovely texture. A little pricey yes but they are handmade high pigment. 

  • I think Gamblin gives you the best bang for the buck and they are made in Oregon.
  • @Csontvary, that may be so in US but a little more pricey here in UK

    The review (Link i posted above)

    "Cons: Not super high end quality, has a thicker consistency

    Rating: 4.5/5"

    I can buy some (depending on colour) Michael Harding handmade paints here for similar price

    High pigment content, no fillers or driers, resistant to fading.

    So I guess it depends on location of buyer and manufacturers in many cases, as well as personal preference of course.


  • MichaelD -   I have heard a lot of good things about Michael Harding.  Maybe I'll give it a shot once the level of my work warrants it :) Hopefully that'll be sooner than later.
  • @Csontvary,
    I think they have a lovely consistency handling and colours.
  • Several oil still life painters I respect have shifted-over to Michael Harding paints.  They're English paints, but in America you can find them at Jerry's, occasionally on-sale.  Blick also carries Michael Harding Oils. In the US you can often find D. Smith and Gamblin at discounted prices...even Williamsburg Oils.

    In my Mother's day Grumbacher Pre-tested was the gold standard for American-made oil paints, but like W&N  I've heard they're not what they were.

    I paint mostly for the bin, I use Soho Urban Oils.
  • The problem once you upgrade to the artist grade paints is you are basically in the range of price of the Geneva paint.  It is hard to make comparisons, but the last time they went on sale you got 5 100ml tubes of paint for 120 dollars.  Two of the colours are relatively expensive.  So you are getting 3x the paint, though it is cut with medium so how that works out I am not sure.  You can figure it out from his medium video, how far a tube of WN goes with the SDM.  I don't use the Geneva paint as it is pretty expensive for me to get to Canada.  I might use it if I was starting all over though.  I certainly would if I only painted in his style.


    I am not suggesting in what follows that student paint is the way to go. A lot of criticisms I see of  it come down to people using the paint in combination with some artist grade paints.   Last fall Michaels was selling the artist tubes for 3 dollars, much cheaper than the Winton on the same racks.   Imagine someone got a few of those deals, and then picked up some other colours in Winton to complete their set.  Then they start mixing it and get terrible results with some of the stronger artist colours just dominating the Wintons.  I have literally seen people on Youtube compare student paints to paints they paid over 100 dollars a tube for.  It is tempting to do these mixes, say that tube of Artist Cad Red is 50 bucks, so why not just get the next best thing  in Winton.  But maybe the Ti White artist 150ml tube is affordable, with the 60% off coupon, or Ultramarine Blue...


    Flip side is people complaining their Artist paint is so strong they have a hard time balancing the tiny specs of it they use in some mixes.
  • edited May 2020
    It depends on the pigment. In my testing there was no difference in opacity and colour between some of the student grade red and yellow iron oxides (PR101 / PY42) compared to top end artist quality versions.

    Yet, all student yellows are weak compared to top end (Micheal Harding - Yellow Lake) PY74. Which in itself is weaker in tinting strength and opacity than an expensive cadmium.

    If you want to save money then I wouldn't use a cadmium yellow or red as my only yellow and red. I would use cheap large tube of student grade iron oxides to mix reds and yellows. If I needed more chroma then I would add the much more expensive cadmiums, or glaze over the top with a student grade red / yellow.

    Phthalo Blue / Green in student ranges are not as strong as artist versions, but the tinting strength is so high that they won't be dominated in a mix with other hues in artist grade paints.
  • Where a high intensity yellow is not needed yellow ochre can be useful and it's cheap. 
  • Shame on W&N for selling us out! I haven't used any of the pricey brands yet. I've got a basic set of  Geneva I haven't tried too. Is Michael Harding the best for the price in the U.S.? or are they in England? What is best for price in U.S.? Is Gamblin in the U.S.?
  • TedBTedB -
    edited May 2020
    Michael Harding from the UK can be bought good prices with a little looking online here in States.  And M.Graham, Gamblin and Davinci are excellent US-made oils at fair prices too.  Williamsburg and Blue Ridge are excellent paints, but can be a bit-pricey.  Several still life artists I respect have switched to Michael Harding oils.  

    From a perfomance standpoint there is a considerable overlap between student-grade and artist-grade paints nowadays.   Some student-grade paints are mostly single-pigments with good pigment loads, and some artist-grade paints have slipped in quality of pigments and mix-quality due to manufacturring corner-cutting ...perhaps to protect a certain price-point?  

    The traditional "quality" dividing line of single-pricing versus series-pricing and "hues" versus single-pigments is now increasingly blurred.  Unless you need the high-chroma strength of a Cadmium Yellow or a Cobalt Blue, a judiciously chosen higher-quality student-grade might work for you. 

    My own naïve take is that unless you're doing high-chroma still lifes you don't always need artist-grade oil paints.  For portraiture, quality single-pigments are beneficial to avoid the unintended consequences of the components of a "hue" mixing and blending unpredictably.  Landscapes are typically mid- to low-chroma palettes except for a few manmade high-chroma objects ...unless you are doing landscape where you might need a high-chroma accents in a vibrant sunset, for example.  Landscapes tend to be mid-chroma, mid-values to near-neutrals.  Many landscapes "fail" due to a loss of control over value and too-much chroma.

    Many instructors stress the importance of value in all three genres over hue or chroma. And value is a product of your White more than any other factor.  A 1/3rd or even one-half of a painting is just White paint....yet it's little considered or mentioned.  You need to like and trust your White; be it Titanium, Premalba, or even a Lead White.  A predictable and trusted White, Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber will provide strong base to work outwards from; cool gray-neutral gray-warm gray from near-Black to almost-White.

    - If I were painting professionally for-sale I would probably use Harding or Williamsburg since my somewhat-local art shop carries them open-stock.  However, since I paint mostly for the bin I use Jerry's Soho Urban oils which I can get open-stock or online.

  • edited May 2020
    Maybe the bottom line is this: use the best paint you can afford, keeping in mind the fact that the best pigments are not necessarily the most expensive. The cheaper pigments such as the earth colours - yellow ochre, raw/burnt sienna, red oxide, raw/burnt umber are  powerful and cheap and in my experience the student grade in these colours is not much different from professional grade. Where you'll find problems is with the expensive pigments such as the cadmiums. The student grade in these will be diluted with fillers and you'll have to use a lot more to get the tinting strength you get in artist grade paint. Or, they"ll be marketed as something like "cadmium red hue" or "viridian hue". This won't be pure cadmium or viridian pigment - they might  have a bit of cadmium or viridian but will be mainly made with cheaper pigments. These "hues" will give very different, much poorer and unreliable/unpredictable results when mixed with other pigments compared to pure cadmiums, viridian, etc. My advice is to not buy these student grade "hues". Instead, buy a small tube of the pure cadmiums etc because they are strong and in painting realism you'll need only tiny amounts of them. A small tube will go a long way and give you better, more predictable results when mixed. Fortunatley, the colours we use most in realism - BU, TW, UB are relatively cheap, and the earth colours are very cheap and there's not a lot of difference between professional and student grade in these so you can save some money with these by buying student grade. But buying student grade "hues" marketed as cadmium etc is a false economy. Buy small tubes of the real stuff. They'll last you for ages.  For most yellows and reds and browns you can use the very strong and very cheap earth colours. What's the point of mixing very expensive cadmium yellow with TW, BU and UB to make a colour like yellow ochre when you can buy yellow ochre in it's pure, natural and very strong form very cheaply? Similarly, you can make great reds with inexpensive red oxide instead of mixing expensive cadmium red with other pigments to arrive at something the you could have got with cheap and beautiful red oxide. You'll be wasting your money and the paint manufactures will love you as they laugh all the way to the bank. When I first started I went into the art supply store and saw all the gorgeous colours and thought the more colours I bought the better my chances of painting a good picture. I wasted a lot of money and found the opposite to be the case. Realism is more about value than colour.  :)
  • I'd use Gamblin exclusively if I was on a budget, and then another brand for lead white since Gamblin doesn't make it for some reason.

    One additional problem with student grade paint is some colours are a combination of cheap and not as lightfast organic pigments to replicate superior inorganic ones. Lightfastness is so important. Paintings in a bright room can fade noticeably in a matter of a few years if the wrong pigments are used.

    Gamblin williamsburg and rublev people are currently testing all of their organic pigments for lightfastness. Michael harding is not participating in this research.

  • CJD said:

    Gamblin williamsburg and rublev people are currently testing all of their organic pigments for lightfastness. Michael harding is not participating in this research.

    Reading that one could easily jump to the wrong conclusions that not participating in that research may suggest.

    It is perhaps more to do with an English paint manufacturer not not wanting to be involved in standards and ratings set by the American paint manufacturers.

    Thats fair enough I think.

    By the same token I doubt that the American paint companies would want to participate in research testing and standards set by the UK.

    His paints speak for themselves.

  • I asked Golden/Willsburg this week and they said they are always testing all of their colours both indoors and outdoors in Florida, organic and inorganic pigments. Pretty cool.

    I'd use Michael Harding but they aren't sold locally and I don't really have any reason to try them.

  • I think in fairness Michael Harding is still only a small company compared to the others.

    I would be surprised if the phthalo blues and greens aren't lightfast. They last longest in printing inks when the yellows and purples fade and have been used for the paint in cars as well.
  • Personal preference and location play a part too.

    There would be no point in me buying imports at over inflated prices when I can buy handmade paint of excellent quality at home.

  • That's why I buy our local handmade brand, Langridge. They are so good it would be pointless seeking out brands from abroad. 
  • edited May 2020
    Michael Harding paints are easily available where I live, thank you folks. I would prefer to go with Rublev, but shipping charges etc.
  • edited May 2020
    Handmade, organic materials, excellent lightfastness.

    I have a 6 set of them as well as Titanium white 1 and 2 and Warm white (Lead white alternative)

    I love the range of colours, the texture (buttery) and how the paint handles.

    My favourite of all I have tried so far.

    Again, like with most things preferences and likes are so subjective.

  • edited May 2020
    Thanks again, I have tried burnt umber, ultramarine blue and still using my tube of yellow ochre deep and these worked great for me. I simply wasn't aware of their value, now that I'm better informed, I'll go for it!
     Btw, in my research I included viewing good artists that use MH paints and other well known brands as well and I was impressed with those results found in the completed paintings. I like the MH palette and it does come down to the artist's personal preference.
  • Hi,  My cad red seems to be getting a little thick in my jar.  Can I add SDM to thin it out or do I need to do something else.
  • edited May 2020
    @bmw , yes you can add SDM if the paint is still good.
  • edited August 2020
    I purchased Rublev oil paint after all, over the past 2 months, a hard sacrifice this took me everything I had to do, and this is a lot of paint. And it was real nice to have it delivered to my door. Efficiency in the delivery was very good given our present circumstances

    My primaries in order as the photo above, PR83, PB29, PBr7, Chrome Yellow Medium PY34 (contains Lead), and 2x Lead White No.1 PW1.

     In the above, I chose Chrome Yellow Medium PY34 (contains Lead) for my primary here, top far right, it appears yellow-orange straight from the tube.
     In the middle is W&N Cadmium Yellow Pale PY35.
     At left bottom I mixed lead white with chrome yellow medium to closely match the cadmium yellow in value. You can't see very well here but cadmium is brighter more yellow than the chrome yellow, is a little more orange and subdued.
     Quite a number of our old masters chose this as their primary yellow before cadmium came into use. Apparently this color was most favored in shadow areas in paintings over any others. I can't afford to change this at this time so I'm going with it, and I am thrilled!

     I've also been preparing these 5"x 7" white birch panels, 4 coats of golden hard gesso on all 6 surfaces, slightly sanded each coat. I now have 30 panels total, these shown here are ready to use.

    Now I need to work hard at getting back to my easel, today looks good right now.
  • happy painting @Forgiveness! those colors look awesome :)
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