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Comparison of 8 brands of oil paints for professionals

17 de June de 2021
mejores marcas de pintura al óleo - brands of oil paints

Guide to high quality brands of oil paints

In this section I show you a guide of the best brands of oil paints for me, or at least they are the professional oil paint brands that I usually use and with which I work more comfortably.

I recommend you to try several brands and look all the colours of the brand to try different specific tones, because the colours of one brand have nothing to do with those of another and often some brands have some great tones that, in other brands that are supposedly better, are a bit worse.

On the other hand, although there are figurative painters who only work with one brand of oil paint, it is common to have specific colours from several brands. For example. I usually start my paintings with Mir, which, although it is considered one of the most modest among the professionals, seems to me to be very competent and even at the same level as Titan.

So, depending on which paintings (outdoor painting) I can do them from start to finish with Mir, and then others in the studio, in which I have more time to recreate more and I want a brighter and more powerful finish, maybe I start them with Mir (or not) and then I use tones of Carmin de Granza by Winsor and Newton, yellow by Sennelier, some tones of Rembrandt or, what is for me the real titan of oil painting by pigment concentration, Williamsburg.

Here is a guide to the brands of oil paints I’ve used and for which I can give references:

Van Gogh Oil Paintings

Van Gogh oil paints are one of the best brands of oil paints for the price. If you are starting out at a professional level, in my opinion Van Gogh oil paints are a very good choice among paints for professional painters, as you will be able to paint a lot without spending a lot of money and at a good level of brightness and pigmentation. Van Gogh oil paints are available at prices starting with offers of 200ml tubes of Titanium White for €5 and 200ml tubes in other tones from €8.

It is an excellent paint for painting broad surfaces, or ideal for painting with a palette knife, as with a palette knife you need more paint. On the other hand, Van Gogh has tones that are great to use all the way through, at least in my opinion.

I have a Van Gogh olive green that I love and I usually use it in some landscape paintings even when they are very advanced. As for the big tubes, to give you an idea, right now I have ultramarine blue and dark cadmium yellow in 200 ml.

For my type of sunny landscape painting I use yellow on a regular basis, whether it is an specific colour for details or to mix with other tones or to give ample glazes, as will be the case here. I had a 200 ml tube of Van Gogh yellow for years and the truth is that it was quite consistent and buttery and with a good dose of pigmentation. In truth, nothing to envy to some Titan oils that, for a much higher price, offer a similar quality in my opinion.

In short, for my taste, this is a brand that, despite being Rembrandt’s little sister, is really competent, even more so if we take into account its affordable price in the large tubes. Both (Van Gogh and Rembrandt) are from the Talens brand, and although Rembrandt tubes have a superior quality, for me there is much less difference between them than for example between the studio version of Sennelier with the extra fine oil Sennelier, or Garvi (from Mir) with the extra fine oil Mir, where I do perceive an abysmal difference.

Who knows, I suppose that sometimes it is more a question of the variety of tones in the medium ranges (66 has Van Gogh, 120 Rembrandt) and certain differences in the pigment load. The point is that you can do very good work with the Van Goghs and that some tones will surprise you.

Titan versus Mir. Which brand of oil paints is better?
We review Carmen Gandía’s two favourite brands of oil paints

Titan oil colours

Titan oil colours are probably the most famous brand for most people starting to paint with oil paints in Spain. The Titan extra fine oil paints range in price from 7’90 to 40 euros.

My opinion about this brand of oil paint tubes is that it is a good brand. In fact, I know it very well because my grandmother, the painter Carmen Gandía, used it regularly together with Mir. Quite rightly – since over the years I have tried the specific shades she recommended from both Titan and Mir, as well as others – she had some shades she preferred from Titan and others from Mir. For example, the Ivory Black and Royal Yellow had to be Titan.

Nowadays, I still have the Titan references she recommended because it gives me the impression that I am keeping something important from my grandmother, but the truth is that for this price or a little more I usually go for other brands that offer a higher concentration of pigment and therefore greater intensity in the paint finish, such as Sennelier or Winsor and Newton.

At the same time, supposedly lower in quality, I have the option of buying Mir (her other favourite brand), which for 5.20 euros a tube in many cases have a more than competent quality and at a level that in my opinion has nothing to envy to Titan in many cases.

Mir Oil Paints

If you are looking for opinions about Mir oil paints, from my experience of 7 years with them I would say that for the price they are one of the really competent brands of oil paints that has nothing to envy to Titan in terms of oil paint tubes. If you are starting to work at a professional level it is a perfect choice. The range of colours starts at 6’49 euros and does not go up in price in any of its tones.

If you buy them in a local shop, you can still buy these 60 ml tubes for 5.20 euros. In fact, it’s better if you go to your local shops, because there is very little of this brand on Amazon.

It is a brand that I know very well because my grandmother, the painter Carmen Gandía, also used this brand together with Titan. When she passed away I inherited her paints, and I have experimented a lot with both brands, Titan and Mir, so I know what I am talking about when I recommend that if you are going to buy Titan you should also try this brand, Mir, because although it is much less well known you will save a few euros and you will get a similar quality to that offered by Titan in many of its tones.

In her landscapes, my grandmother used a lot of bladder green, and for sea water Prussian blue. In fact, I still have some lists of colours that she recommended to me when I was a child and she taught me to paint. It is one of the brands of oil paints I am most fond of.

Apart from the two shades I have mentioned, some of the shades that I find interesting and compact from the Mir brand are dark cobalt blue tone or royal yellow (which in my opinion has nothing to envy to Titan’s Royal Yellow).
I also corroborate what the manufacturers themselves say on their website about the great acceptance of their oils due to their pigment concentration, the permanence of their colours at a competitive price and a marked Mediterranean character in their shades.

These same manufacturers have a classic and reduced range of colours, called Garvi, at an even more affordable price. Although Garvi is far from the concentration of pigment and the quality of the texture of the extra-fine quality Mir oils and I would not recommend it if you are already a professional, it can be very useful to start with the bases of the works in which you sometimes need a lot of paint.

Although, if you try the 200 ml Van Goghs (in local shops you can sometimes find them for 8 euros, and the titan white is sometimes available for 5 euros) you will see that the result is more remarkable than with Garvi.

In any case, Garvi is another of the brands of oil paints I have tried.

Old Holland Oil Paintings

This is a painting that has a lot of tradition, especially because of its long history and because it is still made by hand. Anyway, I had high expectations in these paints and one day my girl gave me a few tubes as a present, in my opinion they were a bit below expectations. Even some time later, to get even and to keep trying them out, I went to get more tubes and the girl in the shop told me that for the price they were a bit expensive, to try Williamsburg.

The Old Holland are sold in 40ml tubes and start at a price of 8.66 with some tones going up to 36 or 37 euros. The truth is, if you observe how complex it is to sell paintings, if you can find more affordable oil paints for the same quality, you will appreciate it. If the Old Holland tubes were 60 ml, the cheapest ones would cost 13 euros (8.66 for 40ml), more than twice the price of the extra fine Mir, and honestly the tubes I tried were no better than the MIR ones I usually use. I don’t know, that was my impression painting.

Winsor and Newton Oil Paints

A London company with almost 200 years of history, founded in 1832. I can give good references for Winsor & Newton oil colours in most of the tones of the Artists family, which is the one with the widest colour range and the highest level of pigmentation. In other words, the range intended for professionals. But also the Winsor and Newton oil paint in its studio version, Winton Oil, was an important surprise for me. A few years ago I bought two 200 ml tubes of White Titan in this Winton Oil range at a very good price, and I was surprised by its covering power and its dense and compact texture.

The only thing I can say, as a completely subjective appreciation that has nothing to do with his great product, is that although Mir boasts of having a marked Mediterranean character in his paints, perhaps I find the French Sennelier or Mir itself more characteristic, closer or more familiar to me and my roots. This is something very personal because Winsor and Newton oils are great and I usually buy tubes of this brand (because of my habitual use of toasted colours, I love Winsor and Newton’s permanent Carmine). Very worth considering if you are looking for good brands of oil paints.

The tubes are 37 ml and the price starts at 8,08 euros and goes up to 30,92 euros.
I will say, however, that if you are going to spend money on high-end oil paints, my choice is Williamsburg, but I’ll leave this one for last.

Rembrandt Oil Paintings

This is another remarkable painting if you are already painting in oils at a professional level, although in this case I am not going to expand on it because of the ones I describe here it is the only one I have tried less. But the little I have tried of Rembrandt I think it could be practically in the line of Winsor and Newton. In any case, my supplier of oil paints always tells me that Rembrandt is above Van Gogh (In fact, Van Gogh and Rembrandt are from the Talens brand, although Rembrandt is the top of the range). So it’s an excellent choice if you’re serious and need high-end brands of oil paints.

Sennelier Oil Paintings

This is a very interesting paint. It’s not particularly compact or dense, usually more oily than Mir or Winsor and Newton, but it has some really vivid and very attractive tones, with quite a high pigment load in my opinion. For some time now I have been acquiring quite a few tubes of Sennelier and it is one of the brands of oil paints I use the most at the moment. I feel very comfortable with the fluidity and vibrancy of the blends I get and the majesty and presence of the brushstrokes once they land on the canvas.

Sennelier extra fine oil colours are sold in 40 ml tubes for a price starting at 6.90 euros and some tones can cost as much as 26 or 27 euros. I think this is a fair price, because as I say, the paint is very lively and concentrated and the tubes take a long time to wear out. It’s not a paint to go around spreading it all over the place with a spatula, but if you paint with a brush or small spatulas it will last. If the tubes were 60 ml, they would cost 10.35, almost twice as much as Mir, but you have to admit that, while Mir is a fantastic paint at an exceptional price, Sennelier is superior to Mir in general terms.

All the warm tones in this painting were painted with Sennelier’s extra fine oil:

Williamsburg Oil Colours

Williamsburg oils are the best oil paints I have ever tasted. It is a paint that was first marketed in Brooklyn in the 1980s. They are handmade, with colours ground in alkaline-refined, PH-balanced linseed oil, which helps to enhance the brightness and luminosity of the pigment. In fact, beyond the technical description, I was surprised above all because of the pigment load; the colour has a brightness and intensity that is out of the ordinary. So much so that you can mix it with oil and still have a very intense colour.

brands of oil paints

Compared to the Old Holland, an oil colour of the same price, this amazing pigment load and vibrancy in the Williamsburg’s colour was not the case with the Old Holland, whose colour has somewhat less brilliance and whose pigmentation seems inferior.

The Williamsburg colour chart is 179 colours. They come in 37 ml tubes, ranging from 8.08 euros to 45 in some cases. Being the same price as Old Holland, I think it is a frankly better paint.

Other brands of oil paints

I recognise that there are other brands of oil paints, probably as good as these (mmm… I don’t know if they are better than Williamsburg, but ok) that I can’t give you references for. Here are a few that I have heard good things about and that you might also want to look into:

Michael Harding (Uk),
Gamblin (USA)
Jack Richeson