9 Top Oil Paints Rated for the Serious Oil Painter

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Are you a serious oil painter and would like the top oil paints rated?

Have you ever found yourself in front of the rows and rows of oil paints unable to decide which ones were best suited for you?

Are you confused by the many manufacturers of artist oil paints and their claims?

9 top oil paints rated
Knowing which oil paint is best suited for your particular needs will not only save you money but valuable time when you go shopping for your art supplies.

9 Top Oil Paints Rated

I’ve sorted through the many artist paint manufacturers and rated the top oil paints so that it will make it easy for you next time you are making your art supply list for your studio.

Top oil paints rated in this article also have a detailed description, review and a price comparison.

Professional Grade vs. Student Grade

It is important to understand that oil paints are divided into two categories: Professional Grade also called Artist Grade and Student Grade.

Knowing which oil paint is best suited for your particular needs will not only save you money but valuable time when you go shopping for your art supplies.

Once you understand and balance your particular needs as an artist with the benefits of each oil paint described, you will be able to make the best choice possible in choosing your oil paint brand.

Student Grade

Student Grade oil paint tends to use more inert fillers and less pure pigment. The result is less vivid colors, less tinting strength and less colorful effect overall.

But since they use cheaper inert fillers, they are also less expensive. Student grades vary widely in quality and so research and experimentation is needed to find the right balance of cost verses quality that will fit your need.

Professional or Artist Grade

Professional or Artist Grade oil paints usually have more pure pigment. As a result, the colors are brighter and have more covering strength on the canvas.  They are also the most expensive of the oil paint choices.

They are commonly cataloged into six series by rarity and value, Series 1 (or A) being the most plentiful and least expensive, and Series 6 (or F) being the most rare and most expensive.

Professional artist grade oil paints tend to come in smaller tubes since they are mostly pure pigment with superior oil binders, and therefore extend a long way in contrast to student paints.

When using them to their fullest potential, you will certainly notice the difference in hue quality and intensity of professional paints.

Just to let you know, all of the product links in this article are affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy anything, but it doesn’t cost you any extra. Don’t worry, I’m always honest, open, impartial with my reviews – I only recommend the good stuff – but this affiliate income helps keep the site running.

Here are my 9 Top Oil Paints Rated from least to most expensive:

9 Top Artist Oil Paints - Quick Comparison Guide

RatingBrand NameQuality Grade & Price
9Winsor & Newton Winton OilsBUY NOW ON AMAZONStudent
Inexpensive ($)
8Daler Rowney GeorgianBUY NOW ON AMAZONStudent
Inexpensive ($)
7Grumbacher Oil ColorsBUY NOW ON AMAZONStudent
Inexpensive ($$)
6Winsor & Newton Artist’s OilsBUY NOW ON AMAZONStudent/Professional
Moderately Expensive ($$)
5Gamblin Artist OilsBUY NOW ON AMAZONStudent/Professional
Moderately Expensive ($$)
4Sennelier Oils BUY NOW ON AMAZONProfessional
Very Expensive ($$$)
3Schmincke Mussini OilsBUY NOW ON AMAZONProfessional
Very Expensive ($$$)
2Holbein Artist’s OilsBUY NOW ON AMAZONProfessional
Very Expensive ($$$)
1Old Holland Classic Oil ColorsBUY NOW ON AMAZONProfessional/Connoisseur
Extremely Expensive ($$$$$)

___________________________________________________________________

Below are the full written reviews, detailed comments, and ratings for each of the 9 top oil paints.

#9. Winsor & Newton Winton Oils 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Winton student oil paints by Winsor Newton

Price: Inexpensive ($)

Quality Grade: Student

Winton Oil are Student Grade oil paints manufactured by Winsor & Newton.

They combine raw materials and modern techniques to suit any painting style at an economical price.

Review: Winton Oil paints are my favorite pick for beginning painters. They combine the perfect combination of quality and price.  If you are a beginning painter, you will appreciate the lower cost without sacrificing too much on the quality side. You will certainly get the results you want without breaking the bank. I have used Winton oil colors extensively throughout my art career and wholeheartedly recommend them.

#8. Daler Rowney Georgian

Georgian oil paints by Daler Rowney

Price: Inexpensive ($)

Quality Grade: Student

Daler Rowney oils are well-known for their economical color strength and excellent lightfastness.

Review:  I was first introduced to Georgian oil paints by Daler Rowney when I was a student at the Art Students’ League of New York. There were some of the students there who were using this brand of oil paint. A fellow student allowed me to sample and use some of their Georgian colors. This brand is a good choice if you are considering price over quality. You can usually find this brand at most art supply stores, department stores even drugstores. It usually is priced very low in most retail stores.

#7. Grumbacher Oil Colors 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Grumbacher oil paints

Price: Inexpensive ($$)

Quality Grade: Student

Comparable to Winsor & Newton’s Winton student grade artist’s oil colors in price and quality. Grumbacher at one time was a leader in manufacturing quality oil colors. But Tupperware has acquired Grumbacher, and as a result, quality has declined significantly over the years.

Review: Grumbacher was the first oil paint that I painted with when I was a teenager. At that time, the quality of the paint was much superior than it is today. Over the years, Grumbacher has been acquired by several larger companies that are more concerned with the bottom line than producing a quality product.  I would still recommend this brand for beginning painting students.

#6. Winsor & Newton Artist’s Oil Colors 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Winsor & Newton artist’s oil colors

Price: Moderately Expensive ($$)

Quality Grade: Student/Professional

World renowned, Winsor & Newton is one my favorite brands of professional oil paint. They contain the highest level of pigmentation consistent with good handling properties, unsurpassed covering power and permanence.

Review: Winsor & Newton is a top choice for students as well as professional painters around the world. I have used this brand many times throughout my professional career and have always been completely satisfied with the result. If you are a student or beginning painter and have the extra budget, I strongly recommend that you try this oil paint. You will not be disappointed.

 

#5. Gamblin

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Gamblin oil paints
I give Gamblin my Best Value award. Without question, Gamblin gives you the highest quality paint for the money.

Price: Moderately Expensive ($$)

Quality Grade: Student/Professional

Gamlin Artists Colors Company makes quality artist’s colors at reasonable prices. They contain lightfast pigments blended with linseed oil and create colors with luscious working properties. Many professionals use Gamblin oil colors as they combine the best of quality with the best of economy.

Review: I have used Gamblin for many years and it remains one of my favorites. I was first introduced to this brand when I was a student at the Art Students’ League of New York.  Many students and art teachers there were using this oil paint. It combines the best of quality with the best of economy. Whether you are a student or professional, you will be very happy with this oil paint choice.

#4. Sennelier Oils 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Sennelier oil paints

Price: Very Expensive ($$$)

Quality Grade: Professional

One of the oldest paint manufacturers in Europe, Sennelier was once the choice for Pablo Picasso. Combines highest quality pigments with highest quality manufacturing processes.

Review: I have had the chance to use this oil paint and found it to exceed all expectations. This paint combines some of the purest and brightest oil paint pigments I have ever used. Their manufacturing process creates a smooth and buttery pigment that is unequaled.

#3. Schmincke Mussini Oils 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Schmincke Mussini oil paints

Price: Very Expensive ($$$)

Quality Grade: Professional

Schmincke Mussini Oils contain natural resins for a balanced drying process with reduced aging and long-term cracking. Good for painting in layers and for glazing techniques.

Review: I was given a set of these oil paints one time as a gift. The brightness and intensity of the colors were what most excited me about this brand. These oils use an alkyd resin as a base, and so dry very quickly, in most cases overnight. You get the luster of oils combined with the convenience of fast drying time like acrylic paint. This paint also resists yellowing and cracking, which can be a problem with conventional oil paints. Try this brand if you need exceptional glazing capacity.

#2. Holbein Artist’s Oils 

Holbein artist oil paints

Price: Very Expensive ($$$)

Quality Grade: Professional

Pure pigments at a lower price, Holbein boasts consistent viscosity, color, tone, application, and adhesion.

Review: I was first introduced to this oil paint brand at the Art Students’ League of New York.  One of my teachers there used this oil paint exclusively. The main thing that impressed me with this paint was the extreme buttery consistency. These oil colors were also very bright and pure. Excellent choice for any professional painter.

#1. Old Holland Classic Oil Colors 

9 top oil paints rated for the serious oil painter
Old Holland Classic Oil Colors

Price: Extremely Expensive ($$$$$)

Quality Grade: Professional/Connoisseur

Old Holland prides itself on intensity of the colors and great covering power. Highest quality and highest price. They contain no fillers or waxes and use only lightfast pigments. This is the greatest oil paint for the true connoisseur.

Review: I was first introduced to this oil paint brand at an art supply shop in Manhattan. The owner of the shop let me try out some of these wonderful paints.  These paints contain the purest pigments you will ever see in a tube of oil.  The creamy and buttery consistency glides onto the canvas with ease. The colors are bright and vivid. The tinting strength is unequaled. This oil paint surpasses all the others and then some.

You should always purchase the most expensive white artist oil pigment you can afford. Think about this: white is the color that will make up 80% or more of your painting. So if you use a very high quality white pigment, it will raise the entire quality of your painting. Old Holland white pigment will do best as your base white. We were always encouraged at The Art Students’ League to buy the most expensive white.

Other Useful Pages:

Ultimate Art Supply Guide

Gary’s Book Club

Resources For Artists

Art Print & Gift Shop

This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. Hi Richard. Thanks for your excellent question. Windsor Newton is an excellent oil paint and I highly recommend it as I have used it myself. I rank it 6th in my ratings because there are other manufacturers that have higher quality standards than Windsor Newton. I have to rank Old Holland and some of the others higher because of the fact that they use absolutely no fillers, only pure pigments and the highest level mixing oils in their manufacturing process. Also, I gave Windsor Newton a professional/student rating because their prices are lower and more affordable for student and beginners. Old Holland oil paints and some of the others are extremely expensive and most students can’t afford them. Thanks again.

  2. Richard Nowak

    I have used Lucas Studio Oil paints which are economical and have a juicy consistency which is great for plein air painting and impressionistic painting. Also, Classico oil paint which is Italian made and comparable to the Lucas Studio and also economical.

    1. Hi Richard. Thanks for your comments. I have never used either Lucas Studio paints or Classico oil paints. Thanks for the recommendations. I know many readers might want to check into these and try them out. Thanks again.

  3. Marsha Clements

    I have used just about all of the paints listed at one time or another. Where I live, we do not have a fine art supply, so we are limited to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, but I do order a lot of my supplies. It just never fails that you can be in a spot where you have to have something. I love the Holbein paints. I have bought Old Holland, but it is so dry–it loses it’s oil or something. It is so stiff, I can hardly squeeze it out of the tube. I’ve thought about cutting it open and working in some oil and putting it back in the bottom of the tube. I am partial to Grumbacher Red. It’s such a true red. I hope it doesn’t get so bad that I don’t want to use it anymore.

    I do know that you get what you pay for. I taught a couple of ladies that bought sets of paint, on sale, very inexpensive, student grade. You could hardly mix it, the pigments were really weak. Now one of the paintings she did is fading, and she asked me why–I think it was the cheap paint. I know there are some problems with Alizarin Crimson. What brand do you recommend for it? I buy different colors in different brands, because I like them. I am one of those art supply junkies!

    Thanks for the information. I will pass it on to my artist friends. Very interesting.

    1. When I was still a student, I had the exact same experience as your friend. I did some nice paintings with very inexpensive paints. Within a year or so the paintings had completely faded away. There was no color left. It’s like it just evaporated off the surface. Nothing was left. Can you believe that?

      For alizarin crimson, I recommend Gamblin Oil Paints. It’s on my list. And there is a link there to the website. They are not expensive but good quality. But you won’t find them at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. Winsor Newton oil paints are always good for any color and you can find them at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby.

  4. admin

    schmincke and winsor&newton

  5. Carlos G Gomez

    I have been painting since the early 70’ies and have tried just about all oil paints over time. I have found no brand or maker that surpasses Utrecht brand oil paint. I use all painting techniques in my work and none come close to their versatility. My early paintings still have that brilliance of color and coverage that I demand.

    1. Edward J. Nemec

      In the early 80’s I managed the Utrecht store in Philadelphia, taking the store from about 150K to over 3.5M in 3 1/2 years. I know their products well as a professional painter and I knew the quality that the family owners put into their product. Now it is a public compnmay and the quality still is there. Funny, I left Utrecht to work for M. Grumbacher, New York and did quite well at both companies.
      Ed Nemec
      Santa Fe, NM 87507

  6. hassan

    plz tell me,which brand ,except old holland,others,i can afford will be best for traditional realist oil paint for painting in layers,glazing,etc

  7. hassan

    old holland is out of my budget

  8. Mark SIbley

    Michael Harding should be in this list.

  9. Don Rankin

    Old Holland can seem expensive but if you want vibrant color in oranges, yellows and reds then pony up. In the long run they are more than worth it. In my studio I also use Talens Rembrandt series, Maimeri for certain translucent effects and Jack Richeson. The Jack Richeson line is actually the old Shiva line that some of us old timers relied upon back in the 60’s. It is quite inexpensive compared to the other brands and is quite good. I’ve been using it for about 50 years with no loss of color. The best advice I can give is to experiment. Most likely you will find yourself gravitating to certain brands for specific colors. I also make use of Sennelier, Holbein, Daniel Smith, Weber and Gamblin. So explore and see what works best for you.

    1. dand

      spend the money on old holland. its not that much more and will last years.
      what you do Not get with old holland is fillers, extenders, salts, siccatives, spirits, alkyds.
      you can always add any combinations of those later, or not. thats’s the beauty, you are not locked into one style, such as when you buy a homogenized paint brand. their earths are top notch, every bit as consistent as any mars i have tried, without blowing out a mix.
      a tube goes, at least, three, four times further. for instance, to make a flesh tone i use a bean of white, dab of yellow ochre and literally a pen tip of vermilion. thats enough base for the face and neck values on a 9×12 headshot. i have had many tubes for years and they still have not been squeezed.
      i used gamblin in the past and had nothing but efflorescense from salt migration. gamblins response – “varnish it”. i used williamsburg and they add so much barium sulfate filler i struggled to get opacity when i wanted it and had to layers same colors as a workaround. i used harding and it was so oily i couldnt use my medium because it thinned it down too much. i also avoid any paint with safflower because it cures less durable than linseed.
      i guess i am trying to simply say, you have total control when using old holland, there are no weak links that will compromise longevity or force you to paint in a certain style.

      1. Gary Bolyer

        Your points here are valid and well taken. Spending a little more upfront can actually result in savings down the line, not to mention the improved quality of the final product. Thanks for your insights.

  10. Salvador Calvo

    I have been painting since 1968 and for me the best oils in the market are Old Holland

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      I completely agree that Old Holland are the best oils paints in the world. And the most expensive.

  11. Sushma

    Gamblin is far superior than any other oil paints of the market and the safest

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Hi Sushma,
      Thanks for your comments. I would disagree with you on this point. There are many other oil paint brands that are far superior to Gamblin. Old Holland is by far and away the most superior oil paint on the market. Period.
      Thanks again,
      Gary

  12. hassan

    can you write a bit more about sennelier oil paints,its pros and cons

    1. Gary Bolyer

      I consider Sennelier to be an excellent oil paint. They are high quality, dense pigments with excellent coverage. They are very expensive. And sometimes I have seen them to be a bit oily, by that I mean the pigment seems to separate from the oil in the tube. I have seen this on several occasions. But overall, the quality is excellent.

  13. Diane Radack

    Can you do a list for acrylic paint and watercolors? I spent an hour at Dick Blick last week and got too confused so I am using what I have for now.
    Windsor Newton(Gallera)

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Windsor Newton is a good quality professional paint. The list for top oil paint brands works for watercolor and acrylic as well. If you stay with these major brand names, you can’t go wrong.

  14. Thomas Michael Meddaugh

    Good blog Gary. I do an underpainting with Golden acrylics – blocking in large areas and shapes. I want to use Old Holland oils for the final painting on top of the acrylics. Do you have any concerns with this process?

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Thanks for commenting Thomas. You should be okay with using oil over acrylic like you mention. Old Holland is a good choice.

  15. L Twig

    Hi Gary. I’ve been using Shiva for 40 years, mostly always trying to accomplish Winslow Homer’s brush strokes, ha ha. Recently, I think I had some mixing trouble with Richeson cerulean but their cads have always stayed strong. Worried about the changes the family company went through. Can you suggest another oil in Shiva’s price rage? I use safflower oil because I’m wet in wet a lot.

  16. Gerry Meade

    Hi…I am trying to paint with water mixable oils. I am using Daniel Smith brand. They seem to be very much like regular oil in texture and feel. I have allergies, that is why I am using water mixable oils. What is your take on water mixiable oils? Thanks, Gerry

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Mixable oils are okay, but kind of gimmicky. I am familiar with them but have never used them myself. You may want to switch to acrylic paints or watercolor if you are allergic to oil paints and mediums.

  17. hassan

    In our country we have sennelier and w&n,I have tried both but I am still confused,I prefer heavy pigment load and permanence forever plz help

  18. Kerry Steele

    I have been using Charvin oils (and Sennelier) for several years. I love the quality of Charvin for the price. Also, their premixed colors make for fast, consistent color.

  19. Deborah Nord

    I use Gamblin. I am most happy with their quality. I also use some colors of Sennelier as I like some of their colors better.

  20. wenceslao ciuro

    Tried many brands until Finally I saw the light and made my own with unrefined cold pressed oils. HAving said that, the final 5 brands are top quality you probably won’t even end making such a great that justify such quality.

  21. Adrian

    I find with oil paints you get what you pay for. One exception I’ve found is a paint here in the UK called Spectrum, which also goes under the name Jacksons Artist oil. They have real Cadmiums for about £22 for 225 ml and you can really feel the weight in the tube. I’ve used them, tested them and found them to have about 85-90% of the strength of Winsor & Newton artist brand, a good deal. Lukas 1862 are also good for the price.

  22. Johan

    For me it’s Blockx, schmincke and Rembrandt

  23. Robert Szakonyi

    Thank you VERY MUCH Gary for your excellent breakdown of your oil choices, prices and quality. I’ve been painting for over 40 years and always had to buy by price and used the student grade paints from Grumbacher, Winsor Newton and Rowney. I am now working on a serious major piece and can afford to spend more on the oils and now I can do it with confidence thanks to you.
    Take Care
    Robert

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