Your Guide to Choosing Oil Paints

Known for their bright colors and workability, oil paints are the first choice of many painters. However, deciding which oils to buy is not always such an easy choice-leaving many painters perplexed. If you’re looking to buy oil paints, simply following this guide to choosing oil paints can ensure that you choose the best paints for your money.

Artist Grade Paints
Artist grade paints generally only consist of pigment and linseed oil, and are the preferred medium among oil painters. Using just pigment and linseed oil creates the purest color possible. Don’t assume, however, that cobalt blue from one manufacturer will look exactly like cobalt blue from another. Sometimes manufacturers will add stabilizers to make a creamier paint consistency. Depending on which stabilizers are used, pigments can react differently-causing the color to be darker, lighter, or more matte or glossy than the same color from another manufacturer.

Student Grade Paints
Student grade paints are of lesser quality than artist grade paints, and contain many more additives-such as beeswax, aluminum, and zinc-which dramatically alter the feel and color of the paint. Student grade paints contain a lower proportion of pigment, which lowers cost, but creates less intense color.

Water-Mixable Oils
Unlike other oils, water-mixable oils can be thinned with water and/or formulated water-mixable mediums. Rather than solvents, these oils can be cleaned up with simple soap and water. Make with modified linseed oil, and safflower oil, water-mixable pains pigment load, thereby ensuring the same depth and brilliance of “regular” oils. Also, water-mixables are certified as non-toxic, and offer a much safer alternative to other oils.

Choosing Colors
If you are just beginning, start by only choosing a few colors. Remember, colors such as orange and green can be mixed on your palette, so you can save money by mixing them yourself. Make sure to buy extra white or black paint, since you’ll be using these most. Finally, experiment with different manufacturers. Consistency, color, and drying time can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so don’t be afraid to try new paints. You may just find the perfect one!

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