Review: Winsor & Newton oil paints

This review is written by Lisa Clough aka Lachri (website | youtube)

Lion in oil (video)

I’ve been using the Winsor and Newton oil color for over 15 years. I’ve tried several other brands, but I keep going back to this brand for almost every color. There are two different types widely available, the Winton Oil Colour and it’s higher priced brother Artists’ Oil Colour.

Winton Oil Colour

If you’re on a budget, almost anything you need will be available in the Winton Oil Colour collection. This is what I have my new students start with. It is a great paint to learn with (not that it can’t be used for professional paintings). One of the ways that Winsor and Newton keeps the cost of these paints so low is to use synthetic pigments in many of the colors.The colors with these synthetic pigments have the word “hue” in the color name. Chances are that if someone put both side by side for you to use, you would not be able to tell which was which.

The pigments are beautiful and there are 47 colors available ranging from more opaque to quite translucent. Each color is quite consistent in its texture. I find that this paint works great both with the palette knife and a paint brush and it handles layering perfectly.

Winsor and Newton oil painting (over an acrylic underpainting) (video)

Artists’ Oil Colour

Just like the Winton Oil Colour, the Artists’ Oil Color works great with both the palette knife and paint brush mixed with an oil medium. The most noticeable differences with this variation is in the price and the color selection. These paints do cost more but there is a huge range of 119 colors available.

According to Winsor and Newton, 99% of the Artists’ Oil Colour are lightfast (meaning they won’t fade when exposed to light). From what I’ve seen, most of the Winton are also lightfast, all of them are marked on the tube. Anything marked as a I or a II will be lightfast. Anything less would be questionable. Luckily most varnishes you will choose add to that lightfast quality.

"The art of war” Winsor and Newton oil paint (over an acrylic underpainting) (video)

Which should you start with?

Really, I think that both are great paints. I use them both myself depending on the specific color that I need. This is a great paint to learn from and makes beautiful professional paintings as well. I generally start students off with the Winton Oil Colour just so that the initial purchase isn’t such a hit to their wallets. As they progress and want a bigger variation in color then I have them expand to the Artists’ Color.

There is a very inexpensive set in the Winton Oil Colour that you can get started with. It gives you most of the basics you need to get started. They are smaller 21ml tubes, but if you’re thinning your paint with a mixing medium like linseed oil or Liquin (my prefered mixing medium), then these little tubes will go a long way. Find WN Winton at Dick Blick Art.

One of the problems that many new oil painters run into is that they choose a bargain brand to start with. While I totally understand not wanting to invest too much money on something when you don’t know if you will like it or not, many of these entry level paints do not work well for techniques like glazing or scumbling. When the first layer of paint dries, you should be able to add additional layers without any damage to the first layer. The lower cost paints often won’t behave properly, making it impossible for the student to actually learn these techniques. The great thing with the Winsor and Newton paints is that they are quite reasonably priced while still maintaining good quality.

Another great thing about this brand is how widely available they are. Here in the US, these paints can be purchased at most art stores, both big chains and smaller shops so if you run out of a color while working on a project, you can make a quick trip to the art store and pick up what you need without having to wait for an online order to arrive. This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you find yourself in that situation!


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art Supplies (UK)

Looking for information on the drying time. What is the basic drying time? Is it 12 hours or more? I bought a cheap set that had good reviews but I've had a fan and at times a heater on my painting and it is still very wet. I used to paint a lot in the late 70's and used Grumbacher paints. I don't remember that paint having the same consistency of the Royal and Langnickel paint and it dries much faster. That is why I am googling tonight, to find a better oil paint.
Thank you and kind regards for your answer

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