Oil Painting Materials List by Vincent Keeling



The first thing to say is that if you already have your own trusty set of oil paints, brushes, canvases, mediums etc. and its working for you, then don’t feel any pressure to follow my choices below. Each artist has their own likes and quirks with materials and if you bought everything that every artist you admire uses, you’d quickly go broke and probably end up a tad confused by it all. I do know people are always curious though, as I am when I look at other artists, so that’s what this page is about. What I do is slowly experiment by every now and again adding a new tube of colour or new brush to my arsenal, and if it works for me, it might become part of the family.

Oh, by the way there is one exception to this freedom of using what you like and that's when it comes to the solvent we use for this must be the odourless mineral spirits for in-person classes! More on this near the end. 



Just a little reminder at the very beginning people not to forget your reference to work from, whether these are printed, from a book, or digitally provided best to tick this off the list first, and if digital don't forget your tablet or whatever viewing device you're decided upon. It's happened in quite a few classes where people show up without anything to work from and then it can be a tad stressful finding a last minute solution.



I'm going to put a few unusual extras that are easy to forget here at the beginning as I think they are very helpful.

A couple of microfiber cloths, are handy for both toning the canvas, and later oiling out if needs be. And little Make-up sponges can also sometimes be useful for mopping up excess oil after oiling out.


A Compass or a Proportional or Scale Divider

Best if the compass is free flowing rather than a screw mechanism.

Handy as quick measuring tool.


Colour Wheel – I have the little Daler Rowney 13cm

The important thing is that it is one that also have a gray scale 10 value range on it too.



Like many artists these days I have become a convert of the wonderful brushes of Rosemary and Co. The quality is really outstanding and as they are sold exclusively online, they are also very competitive so you get more bang for your buck, so to speak. Other quality makes would be Da Vinci, Escoda and some in the Windsor and Newton range.


I have to confess to being something of a brush junkie and I’m forever trying new ones. In truth though the core of painting practice could be mainly achieved with a selection of Hog Haired Bristles and then a few small synthetic brushes for details.

So here’s what I would prioritise if my many, many, many brushes were cruelly taken from me and I need a new basic set.




Rosemary Ultimate Bristles

Pointed Rounds 0, l, 2, 3 (I mainly use size 1 & 2)

Filberts 0,1,2,3,4,5,6 (I mainly use size 0,2,4)


If I were just looking for a couple of details brushes I’d probably go with a few small ones like these.

Rosemary Ivory brushes - Pointed Rounds sizes 0,1

Rosemary Ivory brushes - Short Flat sizes 2,3

Rosemary Eclipse brushes - Pointed Rounds sizes 0,1

All long handle 11 inch option!



This is a more detailed look at what brushes I use pretty frequently and all have their own wonderfully unique mark making qualities.




Rosemary Ultimate Bristles

Pointed Rounds 0, l, 2, 3 (I mainly use size 1 & 2)

Filberts 0,1,2,3,4,5,6 (I mainly use size 0,2,4)


Rosemary Chungking Extra Long Filbert

The extra length in this range gives brushes a nice softer paint application in later stages of painting.

Chungking Extra Long Filbert (series 2065) sizes 1,2



Rosemary Ivory Range

This range is almost like a bristle brush replacement in stiffness, but capable of more precise detail.

Ivory Pointed Rounds sizes 0,1, 2

Ivory Long Filberts sizes 0,1,2 (Try the size 0 first really nice little brush.)

Ivory Long Flat sizes 0,1,2 (Good for crisper edges)

Ivory Short Flat sizes 1,2,3,4

(I’m really liking these short flat Ivorys for making crisp edges when painting wet into wet. Really helps to push the paint around.)


Rosemary Eclipse Range

This range is much softer than the Ivory ones, and thus good for painting later stages of the painting where the ivory ones might be in danger of scrapping off the paint already on, rather than softly laying new paint down in detail areas.

Eclipse Pointed Rounds sizes 1

Eclipse Filberts sizes 0,1,2


Rosemary Master Choice Range

This range is very soft indeed even more so than the Eclipse range, and as such is often the go to brush for Alla Prima painters. Their benefits are mainly that you can overlay a new paint layer over existing wet paint, without overly disturbing the layers below. In truth though I mainly love them for their qualities as subtle blending brushes.

Masters Choice Long Filberts (series 278) sizes, 2,3,4

Masters Choice Long Flats (series 279) sizes, 1,2




Like with my conversion to Rosemary and Co. for my brushes, there is a similar tale with my oil paints; And here, it is the excellent brand of Michael Harding that has one my heart and allegiance. You can paint with them almost straight out of the tube, and their pigment purity and power is pretty wonderful to work with.

Although I recognise it’s not always possible for everyone to buy the best of oil paints, especially when starting out, it’s no harm to be aware that quality brands like Michael Harding and others I’ll list below, behave in ways that cheaper brands, especially student brands can’t rival. It simple makes the practice of oil painting, which is never without its challenges, an easier and more pleasurable experience.

Another thing to note for those of you new to this world of oil paints, when you are purchasing tubes of colour the cost is not just based on the size of the tube, but also on the rarity of the pigment. And to make sense of this every company has developed a tiered “Series” system. Thus with Michael Harding paints, Series 1 and 2 are relatively affordable, while 3 and 4 are expensive, and 5 and 6 very expensive. With Old Holland it goes up in letters rather than numbers, but the same principal with A and B being the cheapest. Thus, one way to approach buying quality paints with budget in mind, is to try keep your choices to the lower series numbers at least to begin with. 

Other quality brands I use along with Michael Harding are Old Holland, Rublev, Williamsburg, Gamblin, Windsor and Newton Artists Range.

Another note, my palette has changed primarily towards Non-Organic pigments, which seem rock solid in terms of longevity, as opposed to Organic pigments and recent fears over how they might fade over time. George O'Hanlon of Natural Pigments - Rublev Colours the go-to guy on this. 

One last little Warning! Some brands like Windsor and Newton have water mixable oil paints. Fine to use just them if you like, but don't mix the water based ones up with the regular oil based ones. If in doubt ask the art store!


LIST OF COLOURS ON MY PALETTE – Generally not all at the same time though!

I'll put a little * sign at the beginning of colours I use frequently.



 * Titanium White (A1) – Old Holland – 125ml or 225 ml



 * Cadmium Yellow Lemon (401), by Michael Harding, (Series 4), 40ml or 60ml

 Cadmium Yellow (402), by Michael Harding, (Series 4), 40ml or 60ml

 * Cadmium Yellow Deep (403), by Michael Harding, (Series 4), 40 or 60ml


 * Cadmium Yellow Deep (D16), by Old Holland, (Series D), 40ml


 * Yellow Ochre (119), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

 * Raw Sienna (120), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

 * Transparent Oxide Yellow (219), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40ml or 60ml



Cadmium Orange (089), by Windsor & Newton Artist’s range, (Series 4), 37ml


Cadmium Orange (502), by Michael Harding, (Series 5), 40 or 60ml



* Cadmium Red Light (503), by Michael Harding, (Series 5), 40 or 60ml

 Pyrrole Red (230), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40 or 60ml

 * Alizarin Claret (No.310), by Michael Harding, (Series 3), 40ml or 60ml


Magenta (303), by Michael Harding, (Series 3), 40ml or 60ml


Quinacridone Magenta (545), by Windsor & Newton Artists Range, (Series 2), 37ml



Ultramarine Violet (208), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40 or 60ml




* Raw Umber (121), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

 Burnt Umber (126), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

* Burnt Sienna (125), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

* Transparent Oxide Red (220), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40ml or 60ml

* Venetian Red (No.122), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40 or 60ml



* Ultramarine Blue (113), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

* Cobalt Teal (513), by Michael Harding, (Series 5), 40ml or 60ml

 Phthalocyanine Blue Lake (209), by Michael Harding, (Series 2), 40 or 60ml



* Terre Verte (115), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

* Italian Green Umber (132), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml

* Viridian (511), by Michael Harding, (Series 5), 40ml or 60ml



* Ivory Black (129), by Michael Harding, (Series 1), 40ml or 60ml



 Recently I’ve been using very little medium in my paints, but when I do I favour

 Oleogel by Rublev – (Just linseed oil in gel form)


 Velaquez Medium by Rublev – for impasto work and adding transparency but not as much.

 And I do still use Refined Linseed Oil by Windsor and Newton from time to time.

 A bottle of Refined Linseed Oil by Windsor and Newton

or other reputable brand.

75ml or 250ml



You’ll also need a palette to mix your paint on, preferably around the A3 size or there are a few 30x40cm ones available, which is very close. Now this can be a traditional wood palette or a pad of tear off sheets which would be very handy for the class room setting where it will save time on the clean up and mess, and allow you more time to paint.


Palette cups

These are small metal containers to hold a small amount of odourless mineral spirits and/or linseed oil for mixing with your paint. Also sometimes known as dippers. Try get the smaller ones with a 3cm diameter. A couple of old egg cups would work instead in a pinch.


Solvent or thinner

This is an important one for its essential when attending any of my in-person classes, that you use odourless mineral spirits, as the real stuff and turpintine can be quite damaging to ones health. No matter what you use though, always try ensure good ventilation as even the odourless spirits is not without risks. Another tip is to always try have a lid on your jars for cleaning brushes when not in use. And please, please, please people, don't be pouring this down the sink, terrible both for you pocket and the environment. It's so easy to recycle. After cleaning your brushes you simple pour the dirty stuff into an old bottle, jar, or even the container it came in, and then leave it to settle for a day or two, and magically most of the paint settles to the bottom leaving an almost clear fluid ready for cleaning you brushes the next day. I paint all the time, and probably only buy one or two bottle a year. Needless to say, this is hazardous stuff for any little kids about so keep it well out of reach recycled or not. 

I find the 1 litre bottles of Gamsol by Gamblin both good value and good quality, but Sansodor by Windsor & Newton also a good option if a little more expensive. 

Low odourless spirits is used for cleaning your brushes and at times mixing very small amounts with your oil paints for certain techniques. 


Jars (for holding brushes and cleaning them)

I like to have a couple of empty jars handy for holding my many brushes while I work, and this is with the bristles pointing to the sky people. 

I also use two jars half filled Gamsol odourless mineral spirits for cleaning my brushes. It works like this the first step is to wipe as much paint off as possible on kitchen paper. Second step you take each brush individually and swirl it back and forth in the first jar of Gamsol, and it helps to really squeeze the brush against the inner sides of the jars as well, holding the jar firm so it doesn't topple over. And then with most of the paint hopefully removed, we use the second jar to remove any residual paint. Of course, this doesn't always do the job, and if not it's on to the brush soap below. 


Brush Soap

The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver


Escoda Brush and Hand Soap (with olive oil)

I tend to use soap on brushes where the paint gets lodged deep into bristles and mineral spirits just won't get it all out. It takes time but if you treat your brushes well, they will return the favour. 


Kitchen Paper

For clean up and also for rubbing off paint from your canvas when mistakes are made.

Lint free microfiber clothes – Optional but handy



Gridding up materials

In the main I'll be advising students to try get their drawing down freehand and by eyeballing it, and in the process develop their drawing skills. But if you prefer to use a grid, or the subject is particularly complicated then by all means feel free. 

If you are though it might be good to try remember to bring the following. 

A ruler (at least as long as the longest side of your canvas)

A coloured pencil preferably a lightly coloured one, as lines drawn with this will be easier to cover up than grid line made with a regular dark pencil.



For smaller to medium works I generally use canvases by the following

Belle Arti – 60 Gallery Excellent medium grain Linen

or the cheaper option of the

Belle Arti – linea 20 - fine grain poly cotton 

which I mainly use for really small work, or because they have the option of square sizes not available in the first Belle Arti linen option above. 

Then I also use

Milliken Bros based in Northern Ireland both for their more affordable Blue Label Series, and for my larger canvases which I get custom make to my size specifications. 

A generally go for the 166 linen, with 22mm poplar stretcher bars. Top quality and very sturdy, although always more pricey than ready made canvas options. 



I buy nearly everything from KM Evans based in Dublin, Ireland. And might be helpful to know prices tend to be a little cheaper online. 


And then when I want top quality and large canvases Milliken Bros.


Oh, and how could I forget my beloved Rosemary Brushes can only be bought online here. 



Ok, I hope you found this page useful, and Happy Painting!

Vincent Keeling