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painting the figure


module 1: supplies

A: Palette and easel

a. Palette

B: oil Paints

a. Paint brands

Professional vs. Student Grade

I would say the main difference is professional grade versus student grade. You can usually figure out which ones are professional grade when they have different series numbers. The series refers mainly to the cost of the pigment itself. What makes one color of paint worth more than other is the cost of the material used in making it. So what tends to happen with the student grade is that they make hues, which are just a different way of saying a replacement for a color.

Cadmium tends to be expensive and thought of as more on the poisonous side. They make hues out of different synthetic colors that are cheaper but lack the same characteristics as cadmium. Cadmiums tend to be more rich, more opaque, and they have more covering power and mixing power in the pigment compared to a lot of the the replacements. That is the main difference between student and professional.


So you can depending on your budget get away with buying some student grade if you want to use that for this course. You will one day want to switch to the professional-grade if you don't want to do that yet. My recommendation is that you start with the professional grade paint. Start with the good stuff first. If you start with the student grade and then switch to the professional grade, you won't want to go back. Might as well start with the good stuff. It'll just make it easier to learn things.

When it comes to breaking down the professional paint, everybody has their own preferences. I will break it down from stiff to oily scale. You will see how some of the paints are oilier than others. It both depends on the pigment itself and the amount of oil that the manufacturer uses to mill the paints when they're manufacturing them. This graph demonstrates which ones I believe are the stiffest to the oiliest. Keep in mind that this is my person estimate. I haven't actually done scientific tests but I've tried all these brands so this is how they break down with my experience.

Old Holland

I find it to be the stiffest oil paint. That's because it's the most heavily pigmented and usually the most expensive for that reason. It's for people who want the the highest amount of pigment load in their paints. They will either paint with it straight from the tube or they will add some oil to it themselves by using any painting medium.


They also have a very high pigment load. And that tends to be the one that I like to go with. Certain colors can be on the expensive side because they have a very good pigment load as well. But they still are usually significantly less expensive than old Holland.

Winsor Newton

This one's hard to say with certainty that every color is stiffer or less oily than other brands. I think they can vary from one pigment to the other. They're not always stiffer but I have found more consistently stiffer paints from Winsor Newton then any of the other ones I'm about to go into.



Certain colors are a lot less oily than others in my opinion. I think they do a pretty good job of being consistent. They tend to be softer than say, Williamsburg. But I would say Winsor Newton and Gamblin are almost equal, and Gamblin is a little bit softer than Winsor Newton on the whole.


I would say they're about middle-of-the-road. Usually pretty soft. I wouldn't really say that they have much stiff paint. But they're definitely less oily than any of the upcoming brands.


One of my preferred brands. I go to them and buy in bulk just because they're an economical choice. They don't sell their paint in stores. You have to order directly from them but you do save some money that way. If you're in California, like I am, it will take some time for the paint to arrive to me. I like the oiliness because that's just how I prefer to paint. I like paint that's a little slicker; not too stiff. I want the paint to move easily from one part of the canvas to the other as I lay My brushstrokes down."



They are on the softer side. Maybe they don't have as much pigment load as a Williamsburg, or maybe even a Winsor Newton. I like the feel of their paint. They're also a good economical choice and They are easily found Either you track. stores or online.



They tend to be on the softer side. They usually have a good pigment load and are therefore usually a bit more pricey than Say Utrecht or even a Holbein and so they have a wide variety of different colors. Probably the the most variety in individual shades of color. For example they'll have like six different reds and five different warm violets. You have a lot of different choices with Sennelier.


Rembrandt is one of the softer paints and one of my favorite go-to paints. I just don't buy as much because they tend to be a bit more expensive per tube. But I like to use them when I'm out plein air painting. I tend to not have to use much medium when I use it because it tends to be what I like straight-out-of-the-tube. If you're looking for something like that, Rembrandt's a good choice.

M Graham

The difference is that they're made with walnut oil rather than the linseed oil or safflower oil that most other companies make their paint with. M. Graham is the only one I know of that mills paint with strictly walnut oil. A lot of artists swear by them.

That is how it breaks down from stiff to oily scale. That to me is typically a more useful guide on how to choose the paint you like rather than by cost. My three choices to start out with are Gamblin, RGH and Utrecht.