Here's My Top 7 List Of Best Supplies For Oil Painting

Best Oil Painting Materials

Use This Top 7 Art Materials List For Oil Painting

I believe you can improve your painting skills by using the best materials available to you. Quality painting materials and tools can make your paintings last longer. Here's what I believe to be the best materials for oil painting.

Best painting support - panel or canvas?

What is the best material to paint on? The best support or painting surface is said to be a wood panel.

Best wood for painting panels - Poplar, Willow or Linden

The notebooks of Cennino Cennini, a 14th-century Italian painter, tell us to use Linden, Poplar, or Willow for painting panels. I believe that The Art Forger's Handbook written by Eric Hebborn says the same.

Some sources suggest repurposing old wood from antique furniture into painting panels if you'd like to make your own. Because the wood is old it has adjusted to the environment. Therefore it is believed that old wood is unlikely to go through additional changes due to humidity and such.

The stability of old wood is thought to contribute to a paintings longevity.

Basswood painting panels are easy to find. Note that Basswood is also known as Linden wood. In Europe, basswood is referred to as Linden while the North American trees are often called Basswood.

Of the many reasons that Poplar is listed as a good choice, it is said to have fewer knots and offers stability if you live in a humid environment. It is said to be light, easy to process, and possibly has fewer tannins.

Best vehicle or painting medium - linseed oil

If someone refers to a vehicle for painting, they are talking about painting medium or oil.

Painting medium improves the fluidity of paint. Oils are mixed with pigments to make the paint. Read the labels on your paint tubes to see what type of oil they contain.

The most common is linseed oil. Many sources say that linseed oil is the best vehicle or oil to use in painting.

Best oil to use for painting

You can paint with many different types of oils. I've painted with walnut oil and Spike Lavender Oil. Walnut oil behaves in a similar way to linseed oil.

Spike Lavender Oil actually works more like a solvent. Painting with it can actually loosen the dried paint layers below if you use too much. You can use it in the same way you might use Turpentine.

I've heard of people painting with Poppy oil. I've heard it to be best used for decorative painting and less recommended for fine art.

My research has led me to believe that the best oil for painting is linseed oil.

Best Size - Gesso

The best sizing for your paint surface is said to be gesso. You can purchase acrylic gesso or oil-based gesso. Coat your painting surface with 3-4 layers of gesso prior to painting.

Which Paint Should I Use?

The best paint quality is artist's quality. "Student-grade" paint which is lower quality and cheaper.

Student-grade paint often requires a larger amount of painting medium. I believe it's best to start out with artist-grade paints which require little to no medium.

It is said that for a long-lasting painting, it is best to use paint straight from the tube with no painting medium. Paint can be thinned with a drop or two of linseed oil. Painting medium is optional, not required.

Best paintbrushes - Kolinsky Sable

Since my earliest days in art school, Kolinsky Sable has been said to be the best hair for paintbrushes. Kolinsky Sable comes from a red sable or Siberian mink. Brushes made from sable are very nice and can be pricey. If you want the best materials to paint with, consider Kolinsky Sable brushes.

I have found a few synthetic brushes that are very nice, but natural bristle brushes are a top choice.

Natural Materials To Paint With

Oil painting is a very old tradition. In the past, painters made their own paint and materials to paint with. If you want to work with natural materials, consider painting on wood painting panels, use acrylic or oil-based gesso, and natural-bristle brushes. Many oil paints are simply a mix of natural pigments suspended in linseed oil. Linseed oil comes from the flax plant. You can clean your brushes with oil if you prefer to avoid solvents. Turpentine is a natural product, though it should be used with proper ventilation. When you use artist-grade paints, you can use paint straight from the tubes without solvents or painting medium. Spike Lavender Oil is another natural material which can be used in oil painting. It's certainly possible to paint in oil with natural materials.


I've spent many years painting, trying to develop my art skills. Switching to better painting materials and techniques has been one of the best investments I have made. I've seen the difference that better materials have made in my own work. Using the best materials available to you can help you do your best work. I believe the best painting materials for artists are wood panels, sized with gesso, artist-grade oil paints, linseed oil, and sable paintbrushes.

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Author: Sonia Reeder-Jones