Oil paints are the “classical’ choice for many artists, and with good reason. Oils have been used to create masterpieces that the collective consciousness still recognize today. Remember Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam? How about Van Gogh’s The Starry Night? Or the greatest painting of all time, Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud? 😉
So, whether you paint a deeply realistic portrait of your long dead great Grand-Pappy Ulyssis, or a day-glo abstract study of SpongeBob, each piece carries the hallowed legacy of oil paints.
Question is, what kind of brand of paint should I buy? After all, there’s WAY too many options, and too little money to try them all. That’s where reviews can really be handy.
Check out this article by Olivier Jennes over at Wonderstreet. It’s a great comprehensive article reviewing many of the major brands, as well as lesser known ones. They aren’t paid for their reviews and I’m not paid to plug them either. Just found it useful for me in my work.
One brand was not mentioned there, Soho Urban Artist. It might be because, it’s a house brand of an Art Store I regularly buy from, Jerry’s Artarama. I’m not affiliated with them either, and this review is gratis.
(Nothing in exchange for this review. No money, no coupons, no nuttin’. Hit me up Jerry’s Artarama, if you want to change that. 🙂 )
This review is for the Soho Urban Artist Oil Colors Set of 24 Each tube is 21 ml, aluminum-lined and is packaged in a cardboard tray.
The colors that arrive in this set are : Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber,Raw Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Vermillion, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Cadmium Orange (Hue), Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue Pale, Cadmium Yellow Hue Medium, Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Pthalo Green, Ultramarine, Cerulean, Pthalo Blue, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Paynes Gray, Ivory Black and Titanium White.
A high pigment quality and amount is key to creating great artwork. Certain bargain brands use more filler and less whole pigment to offset costs. The filler is grainy and dulls the pigment. Sadly, that means your work will not be as bright as it could be.
So, I am happy to report that the pigment quality for this brand is very good, it can even compete with pro brands. In fact, it’s marketed towards both students and pros.
While I have only experience with the 24 colors mentioned here, their open stock boasts more than 50+ choices of colors. That may be a bit limiting for some artists accustomed to more options, so fair warning.
A good brand uses a high ratio of oil to pigment. The types of oil used can be a number of plant-based oils, linseed being the most common.
For this brand, pure refined linseed oil is used as the binder. I’m happy to say that the ratio is perfect. Not too thick ( so, if you’re looking for heavy body paint, this is not it.) and not too runny ( add more linseed oil separately if needed).
Ideally, the best oil paints have a lipstick-like consistency. The texture of this paint is not like lipstick but, it is smooth, creamy and buttery. The pigment and oil don’t separate like some brands and remain consistent through long brushstrokes.
Oils have the capability of blending beautifully. Whether they be blended next to each other, or layered on top of each other, it’s one of the best parts of the medium. In the example below, Cadmium Yellow Hue Pale, Vermillion, Prussian Blue and Sap Green were blended together.
On the left side,colors were painted side by side, then feathered into one another. On the right side, a layer of color was laid down, then another layer was painted directly above it. That caused the paint to be mixed on the page.
With both techniques this brand blends very nicely. The blending is clean and seamless.
This brands’ paints aren’t full body by nature, so they aren’t very thick. The thick brush strokes below required a few layers. So, if you paint impasto or prefer nice thick paint, it is highly recommended a thickening medium be added.
A tint refers to a color + white. In the example below, increasing amounts of Titanium White are added to Dioxazine Purple to create the values. The paint mixes cleanly and evenly, easily lightening the hue.
A shade refers to a color + black. In the example below, increasing amounts of Ivory Black are added to Permanent Green to create the values. Black paint is usually very strong, and this brand is no exception. The paint mixes well with no issue to create shades.
Grays are the back bone of tones and used more frequently most may imagine, so being able to create clean values is important. This set came with Paynes Gray ( a cool gray with blueish undertones). Mixed with Ivory Black, the below values are created. Had no problem creating them with this brand, the mixing was smooth and the colors crisp.
Affordable but, extremely well made for the price. Consider it a bridge between pro-level paint and student grade. High pigment count and quality. Clean color mixing and beautiful blending. Small color options and light body paint. I use it frequently and would recommend it based on the above points.
To find a brand that suits your style/budget and needs, check this article out.
Whew! Long post, thank you for reading! As a reward use coupon code RED15OFF for 15% your purchase at my etsy shop.
What brands of oil paints do you prefer? What’s most important to you when buying oil paint? Color options, thickness, etc? Comment below!