Best oil colors and brands
During my 15 years of experience as an artist I came to understand how important are good materials in my profession. It is neraly impossible to make a good finished artwork with poor materials. Every material used in every part of the process of creating a painting is important for the outcome and longevity of the artwork. During my study in traditional painting I learned many techniques, tricks and useful information regarding it's technical aspects. The painter must not only be visually creative thinker, but also a skilled craftsman.
The artists form the past centuries have devoted much time in preparation of their canvases, oil colors and mediums. The accumulated knowledge was handed from one generation to the next. Apprentices working in the studio of the artist were performing many different menial tasks like stretching canvas, coating, preparation of working mediums, paints and final varnishes. Of course every master had his own secrets and own methods of work that were kept secret from the competition. My view on this subjects is that you should not keep for yourself the knowledge that you have acquired, but to share it with everybody.
There is a lot of information about the best oil colors on the market, I only show what I use and which brands I like.
My thoughts on those makes of paint:
Old Holland - stiff, maximum pigment load, very good all around. Very pricey tho, and they put relatively cheap pigments in higher price groups than other makers of high quality paint.
Schmincke Norma - Very good paint, and cheaper than most other professional grade paint. Now it's not the top series by Schmincke,(that would be their Mussini series) but it is still artist's quality and is greatly formulated. The bulk of my paints before I could afford the more fancy brands was Norma.
Sennelier Finest artist's oils - little less known brand, but on par with most of the best, in my opinion. They are creamy and oily, so if you like stiff paint maybe they aren't for you. I like them alot, and they tend to be cheaper too.
Winsor & Newton - not a lot to talk about, and I suppose many of you have some of those in your pallet, so...Good artist paint all around.
Rowney Artists' - Similar to W&N i n quality, very good but nothing spectacular. You can find those really cheap, and if you stumbe upon such a deal, don't hesitate.
Maimeri Classico - Listed as a student grade, but that's the closest you can get to artists' grade paint in a student line. High pigment load, they even use real cadmiums, very good paint at good price too.
Pebeo Fragonard - Pebeo's top line of paints, they have very good and interesting colors in their range. I would gladly buy more of those, but finding them outside of Australia or NZ seems close to impossible, so tough luck on that one. If you see those anywhere, buy some!
Michael Harding - a personal favorite, those paints are just killer in every aspect. The handling, the colors, it all just ticks with me.
Well, that's what I have for now, but in the future I'd love to try other top brands too, mostly looking forward to: Schmincke Mussini, BlockX, Williamsburgh and Vasari.
My advice on buying paint would be to check as much brands as you can, because not all the colors are equal among the brands, and some less-than-perfect brands have outstanding colors in their ranges, but if you don't have piles of cash laying around, this might be harder than it sounds. If that's the case, first buy some earth colors from the pricey brands, to see how you like the oil content and handling properties, as these tend to be universal among a brand.(OK not always, but I think they really try hard to achieve that, even though I really don't think that's good nor necessary)
There is no such thing as too much paint, and it's amusing and stimulating to check out new colors and try to integrate them into your working pallet, so don't miss out on that, experiment and above all, have fun!