🎨 Best Oil Paint Set for Artists in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Oct 15, 2022 •  Guides

Oil paints and oil painting are considered at the very top of the art world – the best medium and the real choice of master oil painters and fine artists. So let’s look at which oil paint set you should get!

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Top 4 Oil Paint Sets for Artists Compared

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My Pick
Budget Pick I
Budget Pick II
Premium Pick
Description:

My Favorite Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 9 Colors, 37 ml tubes

Description:

Best Affordable Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 12, 37ml tubes

Description:

Best Budget Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10x 37ml Paint Tubes

Description:

Best Premium Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10 Colors, 40 ml tubes

My Pick
Description:

My Favorite Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 9 Colors, 37 ml tubes

Budget Pick I
Description:

Best Affordable Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 12, 37ml tubes

Budget Pick II
Description:

Best Budget Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10x 37ml Paint Tubes

Premium Pick
Description:

Best Premium Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10 Colors, 40 ml tubes

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Oil Paint Sets for Artists in 2022

Premium Pick: Old Holland Artist Grade Oil Paint Set

Premium Pick
Old Holland Classic Oil Color Introductory Box Set

Best Premium Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10 Colors, 40 ml tubes

This fabulous set of premium oil paints is called an “introductory set,” but this is perhaps a bit misleading – these are, make no mistake, fully professional and premium paints, up to the demands and expectations of even the highest level fine artist.

Incredibly saturated and high-quality oil paint with pure pigment concentration and stunning colors – both when working and when dry – make the Old Holland Classic oils a delight to paint with, as does the perfectly consistent and precise control they offer, the beautiful texture, and overall workability.

If you want to understand exactly what oil painting, on the very highest level, is all about, you can check out some canvases by de schilders Vermeer, Rubens, or Van Gogh, or you can work with Old Holland paint and see what you can come up with on your own.

Maybe they mean it as an introduction to Old Holland quality, which this box set is. Be careful, though – once you are introduced, you may never be satisfied with any other oil paints. My choice, then, for the best premium oil paint set overall and a beautiful product in every way.

My Pick: Gamblin Artist Oil Paint Set

My Pick
Gamblin Artist Oil Colors Introductory Set

My Favorite Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 9 Colors, 37 ml tubes

Ok, maybe Old Holland is a little better quality than my favorite Gamblin Artist Oil Colors and more recommended by fine artists worldwide.

But I have to say that not only are Gamblin oil paints nearly as good – and superb paints in every way – they are a much, much better value.

Beautifully intense and subtle colors, rich and highly workable texture, absolute consistency from paint tube to tube and batch to batch – in every way, these Gamblin Artist Oil Colors are good enough to satisfy even the most demanding oil painter, and allow you to create art on the very highest level – as well as finding your own highest level as an artist.

Comparisons to other paints aside, I love Gamblin paints, and their Artist Oil set is my favorite oil paint set and the one I use the most. And, while not cheap, it is a great value. Highly recommended!

Budget Pick I: Jack Richeson Student Grade Oil Paint Set

Budget Pick I
Jack Richeson Artist Oil Colors

Best Affordable Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 12, 37ml tubes

We may well ask, what are the differences between something like a Gamblin or Old Holland oil paint and this far more affordable set of Jack Richeson oil student-grade paints?

In a word, not much! Ok, I guess that was two words.

Jack Richeson’s student-grade paint may not, to the advanced artist, have the same intensity or deep saturation of colors or perfect and perfectly controllable and workable texture every single time, regardless of technique or mixture.

But the difference will be undetectable for somebody who is just starting out with oils.

More importantly, compared to other oil paint sets at this price level, these are superb paints and will never hold you back, frustrate you, or keep you from realizing the true potential and joy of oil painting.

An amazing value for premium quality paints – especially in the 12-paint tube set – Jack Richeson Artist Oils are the best choice for art students, beginners, or casual artists.

They can even fully satisfy more demanding serious fine artists. A beautiful paint for a (relatively) low price!

Budget Pick II: Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Paint Set

Budget Pick II
Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour Paint Starter Set

Best Budget Oil Paint for Painting on Canvas

Set of 10x 37ml Paint Tubes

I’m also going to throw in a strong recommendation for the Winsor Newton Winton Starter Set.

While Jack may have the slightest edge (depending on who you ask), Winsor Newton Winton oils are the lowest-priced paints I know of, which really let you know what oil painting is, or at least can be, all about.

Premium Pick: Michael Harding Artist Grade Oil Paints in Tubes

Premium Tubes
Michael Harding Artist Oil Colors Titanium White 225ml Tube

225ml tubes :: Different colors *Image shows the color

An expensive paint, especially when purchased as individual tubes, Michael Harding Artist grade paints may not be the go-to for beginners or students – unless they’re independently wealthy – but they are the first and only choice of countless top-level artists in the world.

Incredibly high-quality paint pigments and perfect colors, with a depth and intensity, that other paints can’t match, in the paint with such amazing texture and consistency that any technique or gesture becomes easier and more effective.

True lightfastness and absolute stability make this pure, handmade Michael Harding oils the perfect choice for fine art, gallery and museum pieces, and the most discerning clients, installations, and shows.

So many artists will tell you that there is no better oil paint going – without getting into fabulously expensive small-batch esoterica – and no paint that is more effective, more expressive, or nicer.

Michael Harding Artist oil paints are an easy choice for the best oil paints available in individual tubes on the market today.

Please note that the above link is for a single tube of Titanium White – to see the range of colors, follow this link to the full selection of Michael Harding products on Amazon.

My Pick: Bob Ross Oil Paints in Tubes

Not quite as expensive as the individual tubes of Michael Harding, Bob Ross Landscape oil paint tubes have a similar quality overall, with an almost ridiculously rich and flowing consistency that responds beautifully to any level of oil, any kind of technique, and any gesture.

Many people (including me) slightly prefer using these oil paints from the beloved Joy of Painting host. Many also prefer their lovely, consistent, heavily saturated colors when working and after the painting has dried and set.

This is a bit of a tough subject, though, and it should be said that so many fine artists also swear that Michael Harding has the very finest colors, the best consistency, is the most workable, and on and on. We artists can get a wee bit passionate about our art supplies… 

That’s my kind of controversy, though, when we decide between two truly superb paints! I am happy to use either one, but Bob Ross Landscape oil color paints are my favorite and the ones I use the most. And for a substantially lower price, they also represent the best value in truly professional oil paints today.

Please note that the above link is for a single tube of Titanium White – to see the range of colors, follow this link to the full range of Bob Bob Ross Landscape Oil Colors.

And make sure you do not attempt to use Bob Ross oil paints without wearing the fabulous Bob Ross Wig and Beard!

Budget Pick: Mont Marte Student-Grade Oil Paints in Tubes

Budget Tubes
Mont Marte Premium Oil Paint

100ml tubes (3.4oz), Good coverage and excellent tinting strength :: Different colors

We get back to my earlier expert advice about never using bad paints, and believe me, there are plenty of bad oil paints, or at least quite mediocre oil paints, at this lower price level!

And those paints will never really reveal what this most marvelous of media is capable of – the beautiful oil colors in all their intense and subtle glory, the light and shadow, the layering, shape, and dimensionality. Just as bad, they will discourage you when you’re learning and even try and convince you to stop.

But why even bother with that when you can get high-quality paint at the same price as the Mont Marte Premium oil paint?

With pure pigment quality and levels that rival the best professional oils, and correspondingly beautiful, intensely saturated colors, as well as a rich and highly workable consistency, Mont Marte oils will keep you enthused and engaged, even as they teach you what oil paints and oil painting are all about – and what you are capable of.

A great paint even for serious fine artists or commercial artists, the Mont Marte Premium oil paints are easily the best choice for anybody coming to oils for the first time, for art students, or for artists on a budget. A  no-compromise choice and a joy to use!

The Joy of Using Oil Paints

Oil paints do have a quality that no other media have.

With an inner light, subtle color possibilities, intense saturation, incredible workability and control, and at the same time, real expressive flow and overall beauty and realism that nothing else can quite match.

It is also a widespread belief that oils are too expensive and too difficult for us mere mortals to work with.

While I fully agree about the quality and beauty of oil paint sets and oil paintings, I think it is important to assert that oil paints aren’t always that expensive (and, in fact, there are great oil paint brands that are quite affordable).

They are much easier to work with than people imagine.

That’s why I’ve put together this artists’ guide for oil paints, to talk very briefly about how oils are used and recommend the best oil paint sets and tubes on the market today – from really affordable to downright astronomical.

Is Oil Painting Difficult?

If pushed, I would have to say that oil painting is more difficult than any other kind of painting, if arguably a more rewarding medium.

Oil paint responds much differently than watercolors, and it is quite different from acrylic paints in how you handle and best work with them. 

Once you get used to them, though, oils are maybe more free-flowing and expressive than any other type of paint, layer with incredible ease to reveal remarkable depth and three-dimensionality, mix together incredibly well and have beauty and color, light and energy that are so exciting they keep you involved and enthused every step of the way.

But oil painting can initially seem difficult, and a few basic lessons and guidance from an experienced teacher can make all the difference. That’s why I am excited about the Evolve Artist Program, which is perfect for any beginning art student but especially valuable for somebody interested in learning how to best work with oil paint. 

But whether you’ve had extensive training or experience or just want to try your hand and jump right into oil painting, it is just a matter of practice and more practice – even though we sometimes worry about messing things up and wasting valuable (that is, expensive) paint.

In less time than you might expect, you will reach a level of comfort, then deeper understanding, then a kind of mastery that informs you that oils are ultimate – at least in many experienced painters’ minds – the easiest paints to use, to fully express your artistic vision and to create incredibly beautiful paintings.

And since beginner’s sets are not that expensive (more on that below), anybody can practice and experiment as much as they need and realize just how great oils can be!

That said, and not to keep beating that poor horse, I will say again that oil painting, more than any other medium I can think of, is better and easier if you’ve had even some basic training – and again, you can check out the Bonus section below. 

I also find that a few basic tips can make things easier, decrease your learning curve, and give you much better and more beautiful results more quickly.

At the end of the day (or at the beginning, for that matter), nothing I can share with you here will help as much as a real education (or just dipping your brush into the paint and getting to it, for that matter) but here are some suggestions that might help:

Layer your paints – fat over lean

This golden rule will allow you to layer effectively without cracking or shifting of paint, leading to greater realism, a better range of light and shadow, more dimensionality, and better color representation.

You want to paint the bottom or foundation layers with a paint mixed with far less oil and increase the oil content with each additional layer

Start with smaller paintings and simple subjects

The complexity and range possible with oils are amazing, but they can also be overwhelming and intimidating when you are learning, so start small and simple

Practice with monochrome painting, paint sketches, and limited colors

Like starting with simple subjects, simple color schemes can help you become more comfortable with oils as a type of paint, how they feel, and how they work before you begin to expand into their almost unlimited creative range

Prime your canvas with gesso

Prepare your canvases well, or buy good pre-prepped canvases, or you won’t see what oils can do – plus, you’ll be continuously frustrated

Use quality paint and brushes

Poor quality oil paint and brushes will frustrate you and limit the results – but remember that cheap art supplies can be excellent, and expensive art supplies are not necessarily better. But again, more on that below…

Keep your brushes and work areas neat and clean

This not only gives better results but keeps the mind and the creative flow more pure and undistracted, and the practice more productive

Try to forget about money

Use cheap (but good) paints to start, if that helps, but remember that time spent dabbing and spreading oils around on the canvas is valuable and important and can lead to real treasures.

Paint in a well-ventilated area

Nothing can change a photorealistic oil painting into an abstract blob faster than fainting in front of the canvas. For health and well-being, remember that oil painting involves fumes, and working in a well-ventilated area, or even outside, is a must!

Take breaks and stretch

True with any kind of painting or artwork, but there is something especially fascinating and rewarding about the rich and expressive world of oils that can make us fall deeper and deeper into the work. So remind yourself regularly to look away, walk away, drink water, and stretch your muscles!

Is Oil Painting Expensive?

Well, sure, it can be. The very finest oil paint brand on the market today can be almost obscenely expensive, and brushes, canvas, oils and solvents, easels, and the little French beanie hat you need to wear :), can all add up.

But here are two basic rules for beginners and students just starting out with oil painting, allied with one wonderful reality.

The Reality is that there are lots of affordable, even inexpensive, oil painting sets and brushes that are of great quality

The Rules:

  1. Don’t use expensive paint!
  2. Don’t use bad paint!

Expensive paints are likely to keep you kind of nervous and afraid to practice and experiment because of the cost and the wastage, so you may never fully reach your own potential or see what oil paints are truly capable of.

At the same time, never really getting as good as you might and never really seeing all the fuss about oil paint sets, you might become so discouraged that even the best and most expensive paints don’t look that great.

And bad paints, well, they just suck! You can find cheap bad paints (or costly bad paints, for that matter) and practice all the livelong day, and you will never realize the beauty of oil painting’s colors, light, glow, texture and consistency, depth and realism. Rather than saving money, it can end up just being a total waste and as discouraging as the expensive paint scenario.

So we get back to one of the most important tips (heck, let’s even call it a “rule”) from the previous section – use good paints and brushes. And even though oil paints are, in fact, more expensive than most acrylics, watercolors, or other kinds of paint, you can get really good oil paint sets for surprisingly little money.

Even when you’re starting, the paints will give better results, you’ll feel freer to practice and get better, and you’ll get even better and better results. And you’ll just have more fun, feel more encouraged and keep going.

How Can You Find the Best Oil Paint Sets for You and Your Art?

So yeah, oil paints are difficult, more than other media, but a good education, some basic tips, and lots of practice can go a long way.

And oil painting is expensive, or can be, but just as you can get excellent expensive oil paint sets, you can also get perfect cheap oil paint sets.

You can also get a lot of bad or mediocre oil painting sets in all price ranges, but not here, where we will focus on only the best in oil paint sets and paints.

I shared my recommendations for the best oil paints above – oil paint sets and individual tubes. I included several choices for different levels of expertise and budgets, all of them being great paints and values.

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FAQs – Oil Paint Sets

Which is the best brand of oil paint?

Based on my experience and the experience shared by my artist friends, the Old Holland oil paints are the best. Incredibly saturated oil paints with pure pigment concentration and stunning colors make painting with them absolute joy!

What is a good beginner oil paint?

If you are just starting out, I’d recommend the Jack Richeson student-grade oil paint set or Winsor & Newton Winton oil paint set. They are both quite affordable, allowing you to practice and experiment as much as you need to improve!

Are oil paints beginner friendly?

To be honest, oil paints are a beautiful but challenging art medium to master. You need a great teacher and a lot of patience to learn the techniques to experiment and improve. I recommend you explore Evolve Artist Program, which has helped many art students master oil painting techniques.

I hope my guide helped you to get your new oil paint set, and you will have a lot of fun painting amazing artwork!

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, artists’ guides, and much more!

Other articles in the Artists Kits & Sets series:

Other articles in the Watercolor, Acrylic, Gouache, and Oils series:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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