Choosing Your Oil Paint Set

You're all keen to get painting in oils, but which oil paint set to choose? Maybe there's someone in the family or a friend who'd really appreciate a set to

Winsor & Newton Artists Oil Paint Set

start them off on a lifetime's enjoyment of a wonderful, creative pastime ...

On the other hand, perhaps it's a retirement or leaving gift to which work colleagues have contributed and you want to get the right set.

Maybe you know a little about oil paints but just don't know where to start to get all the right things at the outset.

Well look no further! Read on for some great ideas in choosing an oil paint set which you can buy off the shelf.

Or, if you want, some really useful tips about making up your own custom oil paint set from available colors and other art supplies.

Off the Shelf or Custom Set?

There are pros and cons about going for either the ready made sets or the custom sets, of course.

Briefly these are as follows:-

Ready Made Oil Paint Sets

  • At the starter end of the scale there can be simply a selection of paints in a card display box.

  • This assumes you have oil paint brushes, art canvas, etc. & the basic skills to paint in oils.

  • Higher price = range/quality of items included.

  • Be aware that oil paints and oil painting mediums in these oil paint sets items are often smaller than standard size.

  • Manufacturers do this to keep costs competitive, whilst enabling you to sample a good range of their products.

  • At the top end there's pretty well everything you need, often in a smart wooden box which doubles as a portable easel.

  • Often an oil paint set is a work of art in its own right and will last more than a lifetime.

  • As well as a selection of colors, better sets include several oil paint brushes, paint mediums and other art supplies and art canvas or boards to paint on. Sometimes also an instruction video.

  • The main benefits of buying a decent oil paint set are first, you can get going immediately.

  • Second, you get more for your money than by buying separately.

  • Third, all the items will be compatible with each other.

  • Fourth, you can often use the box to bring home wet canvas panels, protected from smudging.

  • Fifth, even if you get art consumables that you already have you'll always use them to replenish existing stocks. When you do, it feels like you got them for free...

Now a couple of downsides:-

  • You'll probably find colors in the set that you use rarely or not at all.

  • For example, I rarely use black paint. I prefer to mix my 'blacks' via a combination of blues and browns, or primary colors, etc.

  • The same goes to a lesser extent with greens. However, I'll guarantee most sets have a black and at least one green included.

  • So the better value of buying a set can be somewhat negated by unwanted items.

  • Any canvas panels you get with these sets are necessarily small sized (about 10" x 8") to fit in the box.

Now let's look at a few points about making up a set yourself.

Custom Sets

  • Ask your art supply store if they'll replace the colors in a ready made set with your own selection. Very often they will.

  • Pick a box that can double as a portable easel (see the link above on easels).

  • Make sure it's big enough to store any existing brushes, etc. you already have.

  • If the paints are student quality colors, the prices of each tube are normally about the same.

  • There may be some added cost if you want to swap around artist quality colors, as these are priced differently, depending on the cost of raw materials.

  • Stick to no more than 10 or 12 main colors. It's cheaper and you'll make better, more cohesive pictures.

  • Try using Alkyd Gel Mediums and Low Odor Thinners in stead of Linseed Oil or Turpentine. This will help your paintings dry much quicker, leave no odor and keep your momentum - and enthusiasm - going.

But what colors should you buy? Here's ten which will cover most subjects, providing countless combinations through mixing. This also saves money and will improve your understanding of colors.











In artist quality, this list will set you back about $75 - $80. If you buy the student quality, then the cost is about half of this.

I'd strongly recommend that you look at the article on oil paints to find more before buying. Also read through the articles (via the links above) on oil brushes, oil mediums, easels and artists palettes if you want a full picture of what put in a custom set.

Recommended Ready Made Oil Paint Sets

If after reading all this, your preference is still for a ready-made oil paint set, here are several I think offer good overall value.

Even the cheapest starter kit comes with a brush and other items that get you started right away.

The most expensive includes artist grade oil paints, several brushes, canvas panels and other art supplies in a quality storage box, which also becomes a portable painting easel.

Have a look at these:-

Winsor & Newton Oil Inspirations Set (Around $24.00)Contains 8 tubes of student grade color, brush, brush dipper, painting panel and hints & tips cards, in a translucent carry case.

Winsor & Newton Inspirations Oil Paint Set

Winsor & Newton Artist Oil Paint  SetWinsor & Newton Artists Oil Paint Set (Around $129.00) Contains 9 tubes of artists grade oil colors and large tube of white, bottle of low-odor paint thinner, bottle of paint medium.

It also has a kolinsky sable brush, 2 hog bristle brushes, double palette cup, palette knife, wooden palette, 9" 12" canvas board, color mixing guide, color chart. Comes in a sturdy, plain wood sketch box.

Bob Ross DeLuxe Oils SetBob Ross DeLuxe Oil Paint Set (Around $118.00) These highly popular paints offer a different way of painting in oils, allowing you to complete your picture in one session.

For more details of the Bob Ross technique, have a look through the oil paints page.

The set comes in a robust wooden carry box, and contains 8 tubes (37 ml) of oil paints, 4 artist brushes, painting knife, a bottle of liquid white paint, a color photo of a sample landscape with complete instructions and last, but not least, a 30-minute introductory video.

C. Roberson Oil SetC.Roberson DeLuxe Oil Painting Set (Around $250,00). Finally, something with a touch of British history to it and a little extravagance to boot!

Robersons offer this De Luxe Oil Paint Set in a quality wooden sketch box. Sir Winston Churchill used Roberson's paints in over 40 years of painting as relaxation from his, to say the least, eventful political life.

His family have recently produced a book about his pastime - 'His Life Through His Paintings' - and the Roberson set was released to co-incide with this. The box, with Roberson medallion on the lid, contains eleven tubes of pigment-rich artist-grade oil paint, three hog bristle brushes and a wood palette.

Related Articles

Oil paints and all you need to know about this wonderful medium
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Mixing oil painting mediums with your paints
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Using oil and acrylic paper for your paintings
Don't dismiss the various types of oil and acrylic paper available to the artist as being just for practice work...

The various types and qualities of canvas explained

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Return from this oil paint set page
to the main oil painting techniques page.

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