Last updated: August 13, 2021

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Hello and welcome to MONEDEROsmart. Today's article will be dedicated to you who need to buy oil paint and want tips to choose the option that best suits your expectations and needs. Oil paint has great notoriety in the market thanks to its versatility.

With an oily base, it is available in a diverse range of colours. It dries slowly and is ideal for detailed work. It can be used for paintings on fabric canvas with brushes or spatulas, wooden surfaces, fabrics, and even metal for crafts in general. Follow this Review and check out the main tips and information so you can choose without fear the oil paint that best fits your needs.




Summary

  • Intended for use in painting and crafts, oil paint should be chosen according to the buyer's usage goals.
  • In addition to the brand, quality, colours and size of the tube, it is essential to pay attention to issues such as yield and drying time to make the right choice.
  • The prices of oil paints will vary according to the brand and model. It is possible to find more basic options of small quantities starting from £10, while more robust pots of renowned brands and superior quality may cost more than £300.

The Best Oil Paints: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Already eager to start your next painting project after these suggestions from our Ranking? Hold on! Before you click on buy check out our Buying Guide. In this section we'll give you tips on models, how to use, values and where to buy the product, so you can make the perfect choice of oil paint to exercise your artistic side.

Moça pinta com tinta óleo sobre tela usando espátula.

The most common techniques for painting with oil paint are using brushes or spatulas. (Source: Burst / Pexels)

What is oil paint?

Oil paint is a type of slow-drying, oily-based paint. It usually consists of a mixture of natural or synthetic pigments with some kind of drying oil. The most commonly used is linseed oil. Painting with oil paint can be done with brushes or spatulas, depending on the technique applied and the expected painting effect. It may be opaque, transparent or semi-transparent.

Its consistency has little variation from one brand to another, but can be altered with the use of solvents such as turpentine or petroleum ether, according to the artist's needs. Oil paint also allows the use of varnish to increase the brightness of the final result. The finish, however, can only be used when the paint is completely dry.

What are the advantages of oil paint?

One of the biggest advantages of oil paint is its slow drying, which allows the artist to apply various painting techniques, as well as a large window of time to work, alter or correct their work. This characteristic - which also means that the paint can be mixed in the most varied painting stages - together with the large number of shades and colours available for the product, makes oil paint the ideal option for artistic work, from the most basic to the most detailed.

Versatile, oil paints may have several uses besides artistic painting and canvas painting. They can be applied to give finishing and protection to wood pieces and handicrafts in this material, as well as walls, benches, boats, etc. Resistant to weather actions, they have bright and shiny finishes and colours, ideal for interior and exterior use.

Advantages
  • There are versions in various price ranges
  • Resistant to weather actions
  • Can be used for various purposes and with various painting techniques
  • Slow drying allows detailed work by the artist
Disadvantages
  • Poor quality paint may change colour and crack over time
  • Good quality paint can be expensive

How to use oil paint?

As we have already mentioned, there are several uses for oil paint, for decorative paintings, handicrafts, painting on fabric, among many other possibilities. But regardless of your objectives, there are some tips that can optimize the work with this material. These are the ones:

  • Always use a surface to arrange and mix the paints;
  • Work successive layers for several days to build textures or achieve deep effects;
  • Don't be afraid to dare combining oil paint with other types of paint;
  • When using the overlapping layers technique, increase the proportion of linseed oil used in the mixture with each layer, since the bottom layers absorb the oil from the top ones;
  • If the bottom layer is over-oiled the effect will be the opposite, which may cause cracking of the paintwork;
  • Let the paintings dry in clear light. Otherwise the oil may decant from the paint causing yellowing of the work;
  • To remove a recent layer of oil paint or varnish, use alcohol as solvent.

Vários pincéis sujos de tinta óleo.

Following these tips makes it easy to use oil paint. (Source: Natallia Khlapushyna / 123rf)

How to dilute oil paint?

As we have already commented, there are some situations in which diluting oil paint is necessary. Therefore, the use of appropriate techniques and products is important to ensure that the fundamental characteristics of the paint are maintained and to prevent it from presenting problems in the final result resulting from inadequate dilution.

With this in mind, solvent should be used in a proportion of no more than 20% of the paint to be diluted. The correct way to dilute oil paint may vary according to its category, brand, colour and type of pigment. Therefore, prior research for the specific brand and colour of paint you use may be necessary. A universal tip is to avoid using linseed oil as a solvent for white and blue oil paint, which are colours that tend to yellow, which is accentuated by linseed oil.

For these colours prefer poppy oil, which yellows less. And remember: most solvents have some degree of toxicity or flammability, so they should always be handled with care and common sense. Therefore:

  • Do not handle solvents near heat sources;
  • Never use in spaces without ventilation;
  • Isolate cloths and materials with solvent residues in closed plastic containers, since the smell can be intoxicating even at a distance.

How much does it cost?

The price of oil paint varies according to the brand, quality of the product and size of the bottle. It is possible to find small 20 ml bottles starting at £10. Bigger bottles, from renowned brands and with superior quality, can cost more than £300.

Purchase criteria: Factors to compare the different oil paint models

Now that you have several general information about oil paint, we will list some of the characteristics that you can compare to recognize the best paint option for you to paint your canvases, fabrics or crafts. They are:

  • Colours
  • Transparency and opacity
  • Category
  • Drying

Below we will detail each of these particularities, so that no doubts remain when it comes time to choose:

Colours

The tones of oil paints may vary a lot from one brand to another, even if they have the same colour name. This variation is due to the type of pigment used: natural or synthetic. The differences in colours are perceptible, especially when the paint dries, when it oxidizes and reaches its final shade. Therefore, the analysis of samples can be the most reliable tactic for choosing and comparing shades.

Pessoa usa superfície própria para dispor diversas cores de tinta óleo.

Transparent inks have softer coverage, while opaque inks have higher coverage power. (Source: Rawpixel / Pexels)

Transparency and opacity

Besides colour variations, the paints can present other variants, which will have a direct effect on their use and effects. Oil paints can be transparent, semi-transparent (or semi-opaque) and opaque. In general, manufacturers use legends to indicate these product characteristics, where:

  • Empty square: transparent pigment paint;
  • Squarehalf filled in: Paint with semi-transparent pigments;
  • Filled square: Opaque pigments.

Transparent paints will have softer coverage, while opaque paints have higher covering power, while semi-transparent paints therefore fall in the middle terms. Transparent paints are suitable for glazing and glazing techniques, or when you want to add colour to what is underneath. Opaque paints, on the other hand, provide complete coverage of the surface on which they are applied.

Category

Oil paints may be of the professional or beginner category. Some brands, however, offer intermediate category lines. Check on the table the differences between the two main categories. But remember: in both it is possible to find good and bad quality products, so choosing reliable brands is fundamental.

Professional Beginner
Uses Professional artist or with some experience Students and beginners
Characteristics Made with less stabilizers and adulterants They carry less pigment and a large amount of adulterants
Price They are more expensive paints They are cheaper

Drying

The drying of oil paints, in general, is slow. The complete drying process can take from 3 to 4 days, depending on the quality of the paint, its composition and the quantity of layers applied by the artist. The process however can be speeded up by using cobalt based drying products, specific for oil paint.

There are also oil paints that dry faster naturally, such as those made from pigments containing lead, cobalt and manganese. These colours can be used mixed with others, in order to speed up the drying process.

(Source of the highlighted image: Stux / Pixabay)

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