The 8 Best Oil Paint Brands of 2021

Options for every level of experience and painting preference

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Michael Harding Oil Paints at Amazon

"Their high-quality paint is made by hand with rich and vibrant colors that spread and mix well."

Best Historical: Sennelier Oil Paints at Amazon

"Used by famous artists such as Picasso, Cezanne, and Pissarro, this brand is a good value option with a buttery texture."

Best Budget: Blicks Studio Oils at Dick Blick

"The paints in this brand have a bright pigmentation, come in 50 colors, and are great for beginners or students."

Best for Artists: Blockx Artist Oil Colors at Dick Blick

"These paints are highly pigmented with vivid and delightful colors that you can depend on each time you open a new tube."

Best for Beginners: Gamblin 1980 Oil Color at Amazon

"At an affordable price, these student-grade oil paints come in 40 colors, mix well, and have a smooth, soft texture."

Best for Students: Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour at Dick Blick

"With a good consistency and reasonable price, these paints are ideal for students looking to save on supplies."

Best Splurge: Old Holland Classic Oil Colors at Jerry's Artarama

"Created in the 1600s, this brand offers a luxurious experience with many high-quality, paint color options."

Best Low Toxic: M. Graham at Dick Blick

"Their paints are created without solvents, extenders, fillers, or adulterants and do not have a noxious smell."

If you’re using oil paints as your medium, you’ve joined an artistic tradition that dates back hundreds of years. When it comes to choosing oil paints, you have many options. Some brands date back to the 1600s, joined by more modern selections. 

A brand's history is not the only consideration. Other features to look for include consistency, texture, pigmentation, and more.

Here, the best oil paint brands in various categories, so you can pick the option that’s right for your needs.

Best Overall: Michael Harding Oil Paints

Michael Harding Oil Paints
 Courtesy of Amazon

If you are in the market for rich, beautiful pigmentation, you’ll adore this British brand developed by a London-based artist. Rich pigmentation puts this brand on the pricier side. The paint is of high quality, and the experience of using this paint is delightful. Its deep pigmentation also means you don't need to use as much paint to get beautiful results. 

The paints are made by hand, resulting in vibrant colors. You’ll find that this paint has a buttery consistency; it spreads and mixes well and won’t crack with time.

Best Historical: Sennelier Oil Paints

Sennelier Oil Paints
 Courtesy of Amazon

There’s a special thrill in painting with the same type of paint used by the masters. Sennelier is not the oldest brand on the list (the Old Holland paints have been used since the Renaissance), but Sennelier is a storied, remarkable brand. Artists Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Camille Pissarro used Sennelier paints. 

This brand was formed in 1887, and while you can purchase their paints online, Sennelier also maintains its original store across the street from the Louvre in Paris. 

The safflower oil used in the preparation of these paints prevents yellowing and provides a silky smooth finish. However, it can have a negative side effect of causing paint separation and drying out the paints faster than linseed oil. Sennelier paints are a good value, offering a buttery texture, and are a good option for contemporary artists inspired by using the same brand as historical greats.

Best Budget: Blicks Studio Oils

Blick Studio Oils
Courtesy of Blick 

Art store Dick Blick has a house brand of oil paints known as Blicks that are well made and affordable. This likely isn’t the right choice for professional-level artists, but if you’re a student or looking to get started, these paints are a great option. They are ideal if you’re looking to experiment with a new technique and don’t want to use costly paint for your test runs.

Even at a reasonable, accessible price, you’ll find that Blicks have a bright pigmentation. Like Sennelier, Blicks is formulated with safflower oil (in place of linseed). The brand's paint is available in 50 colors and has a creamy texture. 

Best for Artists: Blockx Artist Oil Colors

Blockx Oil Paints
Courtesy of Blick 

Started in 1865, Blockx oil paints are made in Belgium using stone mills. These paints come the closest to replicating the deeply time-consuming process of producing paints by hand. The family-run business offers paints that are intense and creamy. 

By using poppyseed oil, these paints avoid yellowing and wrinkling when the paint dries. A few of the pigments contain linseed oil instead.

These paints are highly pigmented, leading to delightful and vivid colors. Another pro of these paints: They’re consistent. If you buy a tube, you’ll find the same color and texture as a tube purchased years prior. Quality is a priority for this manufacturer. Blockx keeps a sample from each batch made.

Best for Beginners: Gamblin 1980 Oil Color

Gamblin 1980 Oil Color
Courtesy of Amazon 

If you're looking to get started with oil paints, you’ll want an affordable line with good pigmentation that's well made. Gamblin’s student-grade oil paints come in 40 colors—a limited range, but certainly enough for a beginner to embark on their painting journey. The smooth, creamy paint texture is ideal for beginners and mixes well.

Best for Students: Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour

Winton & Newton Oil Colour
Courtesy of Amazon 

Another affordable option that’s ideal for students is the British brand, Winsor & Newton. Their Winton variant is priced well for those not looking to spend a fortune on supplies. These paints are mixable and having good consistency. These are less pigmented than Winsor & Newton’s artist-grade line while still offering a reasonable pigment load. 

Best Splurge: Old Holland Classic Oil Colors

Old Holland Classic Oil Colors
 Courtesy of Jerry's Artarama

This brand is steeped in history: It began in 1664—the era of the Dutch masters. Think of this as the Jaguar of oil paint options. It is pricey, offers a luxurious experience, and has an amazing color saturation thanks to rich pigments, thick but creamy texture, and overall high quality. Old Holland offers a lot of color options. Like Blockx, these paints are made using the old-fashioned technique of grinding with a stone rather than a metal roller.

Best Low Toxic: M. Graham

M.-Graham-Artists'-Oil-Paints-and-Sets
Courtesy of Blick 

These solvent-free paints from M. Graham are created with walnut oil, which means that unlike most brands made with linseed oil, there won’t be a noxious smell associated with the paint. 

This leads to a less toxic product. Using walnut oil also reduces the yellowing that can develop as paintings age. Per the manufacturer, paintings made with walnut oil maintain their luster for centuries. 

The company prides itself on being environmentally friendly, and the paints are all created without solvents, extenders, fillers, or adulterants. The downside to using walnut oil in place of linseed is the paint will dry slowly, which might frustrate some artists.

Final Verdict

Michael Harding Oil Paints (available at Blick) are the top pick for their rich pigmentation, creamy texture, and high-quality experience. Another popular choice is Sennelier oil paints (view at Jackson Art). They are a good value, offer a buttery texture, and steeped in artistic history.

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