The keys to help you choose your oil painting

Yes, but which range?

In addition to the multitude of brands, there are a multitude of ranges of oil paint in tubes. It is very difficult to find your way around!

There are the “study”, “fine”, “extra-fine“, even sometimes “superfine” ranges, and I have even seen more than dubious products with the appellation “fine arts” or “professional”!

It is already not easy to choose your colours to compose your palette. To this problem is added the artistic vagueness that prevails to differentiate all these ranges, and to know which one will be practical, effective, the most adapted to our needs, to make beautiful paintings!
If we refer to the manufacturers’ advertising brochures, they are all at the top!!!!! It reminds me of the sketch about Coluche’s laundry….

Here are some keys to help you in your choices and make sure you are not mistaken.

First of all, what makes the quality of an oil painting in a tube is:

  • Its pigments

Beautiful colours are beautiful pigments: pure, luminous, stable, with high colouring power.
For example: I have already seen tubes called “yellow ochre” tubes that look more like caramel than anything else; violets made from a mixture of several pigments producing a more than approximate and dull result.
The more precious a pigment is, the more expensive it is!

  • Pigment concentration

Some manufacturers offer large tubes at very attractive prices. It should be known that to increase the volume, and thus offer cheap tubes, they add a neutral charge, or even more oil… These tubes will give less intense and less vivid colors. So the less oil or neutral filler there is in the composition, the better because the pigment concentration will be higher.

  • The nature of the oil used

Good oil paint is discoloured linseed oil, very little yellowing, and eyelet oil, not yellowing at all (ideal for blues).
A friend, very proud and satisfied at the idea of having made a good deal, shows me her new purchase in a junk shop. A box of 20 tubes of 60ml for only 5€ (made in India I specify). Okay… Let’s get to the test! As soon as we opened the white tube, we noticed that it was full of a brown oil like used oil (it was leaking everywhere!). Same for all the other tubes. And I’m not even talking about the colors… Yuck! You don’t have to expect to do any good deeds with that!


And yes, very often the price is the quality. When you want good equipment, it is best to equip yourself with “extra-fine oil. That said, I have a little trick not to ruin myself too much… For some colors: white, purple, yellow, red, blue, I take extra-fine, because I want them intense and pure. For others, earth, brown, black, green, medium range tubes such as “fine” are sufficient. But I always choose branded products (Sennelier, Royal Talens, Lefranc & Bourgeois), which ensure excellent quality on these criteria thanks to their experience and respect for the products.