The Best Oil Paints for Beginner Artists

best oil paints

“When you close the door on an expensive car it feels like you've just closed a bank vault. It's expensive but you get what you pay for. In the same way you can tell the best oil paints when you use them - that's definitely the case with Old Holland."

-Kevin Murphy, Founder


There are so many brands of paint on the market, and high price tags often inform painters of what brands are considered the best oil paints.

However, one paint company has stood out among the rest for centuries, so much so that many professional artists consider it to be the best oil paints in the world.

Old Holland paint is normally reserved for professionals, but here at Evolve students are given the opportunity to exclusively use Old Holland paints to complete their exercises while in the Evolve program.

Here, you’ll learn what Old Holland paint is, why we at Evolve use it exclusively, and what it takes for many to consider it the best oil paints available for masters and beginners alike.

Mixing Old Holland oil paints.

The Best Oil Paints: What is Old Holland?

Old Holland is the oldest paint manufacturer in the world by a couple of hundred years. They’ve been around since the 1600s, founded by the guild of oil painters in The Hague, Netherlands.

In 1870, artist Willem Roelofs took over the manufacturing processes from the guilds and collected the processes and paint recipes that had been passed on from generation to generation.

 The Old Holland company was eventually formed and moved to Scheveningen, a district of The Hague. In many artists’ circles, ‘Scheveningen paint’ stands for quality.

Old Holland has been around in one form or another for centuries. Today the company is still using the same formulas that were used historically (the same expertise from the same manuals from 400 years ago). If you’re looking to get closer to the Old Masters, Old Holland paint is a direct link.

Johannes Vermeer used Old Holland paints to paint “Girl with a pearl earring” in 1665.

Who Uses Old Holland Paint?

Painting by Odd Nerdrum, part of the "After the Flood" series.

When you go to a museum to look at some of the words best paintings, you likely don’t think about the paint itself.

But when you stand in front of any of the Dutch masters, Vermeer and Rembrandt for example, you are looking at Old Holland paint. When you stand in front of a Cezanne — you are looking at Old Holland paint.

Jeff Koons is a contemporary artist, and when you stand in front of one of Koon’s paintings and it’s Old Holland.

Odd Nerdrum is another one; he is widely considered the greatest figure painter of our time. He is a modern-day Rembrandt. You stand in front of his work and you’re looking at Old Holland paint.

Having these incredible painters all use the same paint is a pretty powerful statement.

Why Invest in the Best Oil Paints while learning?

Many artists wonder why they would even consider using the best oil paint when learning, and not student grade. 

Using low-grade paint, with less pigment and more oil, or low-quality brushes will affect your paintings, even if your approach to painting is flawless.

You begin to make adjustments for the poor performance of your artist materials.

And so your entire approach becomes wrapped around these terrible materials that are in the way, steering you off course every time you use them.

Evolve students look at an Old Holland color chart. 

Using the best oil paints available means that you will not make adjustments for low quality materials, which is vital when you are learning. 

You want to eliminate as many of the variables that could get in the way of quality work.

So if you're using a quality brush, quality paint, and quality canvas, you know that the errors (if they creep in) are human errors and they're not shortcomings of the materials.

One of the things with Old Holland is that there is no margin of error with the materials - it's flawless.

Now, this doesn't make you a better artist on its own but it doesn't get in the way of you making art.

The idea is to avoid adding any additional friction on the road from your first stroke to developing mastery in painting

Evolve students participating in a Q&A with Old Holland owner Edward de Beer at the 2018 Evolve Conference.


Old Holland is the highest quality of paint and the best oil paint on the market. Using it assures you that your paintings will hold up over time, your colors will be of the highest pigment, and that your materials were made using the highest quality ingredients and processes.

At Evolve, we always recommend that students work with the highest grade material that they can, and this means using the best oil paints on the market.

This recommendation is in order of what is going to be the most important (meaning don’t spend that much money on a brush but do spend it on paint).

At some point, the brushes end up in the garbage when they get worn down. But the painting lasts — it endures.

For that reason Evolve wants its students to use the highest grade of paint and it also makes the job easier because the quality of paint is never a hindrance.

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