What Oil Paints Should Be Used In Painting?

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This article concentrates painting in oils. There are a great variety of makes of oil paints to choose from and a corresponding range of price and quality. When beginning to paint, there is an understandable tendency to go for the cheapest. Why spend a lot of money on paints one might subsequently not use again?

Buy Cheap, But…
OK! So buy the cheapest and have a go. But there is a big but. In fact, one or two big buts. So if you are going to go cheapest, do so partly by purchasing the smallest tubes of paint you can find from more reptutable producers — because as soon as you get hucked on oil painting, you will need to be severe with yourself and throw all the low quality stuff away.

Probably the smallest size tube you will find is 21ml. After that come 38ml, 75ml etc. Certainly the larger sizes ought to be left until later. One possibility is that you may by large tube sizes for colours which, as you develop, will be used very infrequently.

Likewise with supports (the things like framed canvass which you put the paint on!!). Not much point in putting cheap paint on expensive supports. Don’t begin by purchasing large sizes: try, say, around 12" X 10".

Brushes...? Well, cheap brushes will not last very long anyway when trying to produce a work of art, and in all probability, you will be happy to get rid of (hopefully) the few you have bought. If you are starting off with small pictures, you will need small brushes. The main types are: round, flat and filbert (flat but with the corners rounded). You can usually get these in sets.

Getting What You Pay For
This is a great economic truth (most of the time!). It certainly applies to artist’s materials, the main reason being that good materials cost more than cheap ones — and as soon as you develop an enthusiasm for oil painting, you will want to upgrade everything you are using. But you can only upgrade by getting rid of any temptation to downgrade by resorting to the cheap stuff you began with. So buy cheap to start, but then...

Early Stages
In the early stages of learning to paint you may not be aware of the differences between alternative qualities of paint. (The differences in brushes will be much more apparent). But they are real, and trying different ones will later bring an awareness of this. So when you sense the commitment to painting is growing, try some more expensive ones.

Types Of Oil To Start With
Many professional artists use oil paints produced by Winsor and Newton. These come in various types but, moving on, ignore the cheaper student type and buy Artisan Oils. One of the most important determinants of price is the cost of pigments that produce the colour. W&N Winton’s Oil provides a high quality at reasonable prices by using alternative pigments, which are cheaper than traditional ones, and they come in an adequate range of colours. As with other types of oil paint, they can be bought in sets with, say, six smaller sized tubes of 21ml. This provides a limited pallet (or range of colours), which is a good thing for beginners since it allows one to get to know what can be achieved by mixing, say, two or three basic colours.

Daler-Rowney Georgian oils are another relatively economic range, which aims to attain a high standard. Tube sizes are 38ml, 75ml and 225ml, but start with the smaller ones. Again, sets are available, including starter kits.

Daler-Rowney and Winsor & Newton Artists oils are of a professional quality and cost around twice as much as those previously discussed. But it is the quality one is paying for: much better pigment (which affects the appearance of the paint, how long its colour last, etc) superior handling and so forth.

And Later…
As you progress, there are several makes of oil paint which offer even more superior qualities but, of course, that old economics principle means that the price goes up (and for some, up and up!). Among these are Michael Harding (which the painter David Hockney rates as “excellent” and “first quality”) and Rembrandt (which claims especial brilliance. So there is much you can progress to.

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