Utrecht Studio Series Oil Paints$11.40
- Pigments are vibrant and have great depth compared to other student grade paints. Right in the same tier as Gamblin 1980
- Looks great on paper (arguably the most important thing)
- Lots of useful color varieties beyond the basics
- Probably the best value of the student grade paints. Colors right up there with Gamblin 1980, while managing a lower price for larger tubes.
- Some binder/filler/additive leakage. I know that's the nature of student grade paint, but I've had filler leak out of a brand new tube.
- Some colors are more expensive than others, and even approach artist grade prices
- Availability is spotty sometimes. Always seems to be available at Blick and Cheap Joe's, but other retailers don't always seem to have it
In my other online life outside of writing reviews, I’m an amateur portrait artist. In the past, I mostly used colored pencils. But recently, I’ve started trying to learn oil painting. I’ve done just over 20 paintings now, and have used four different brands of student grade paint. Paint brands typically have different tiers, but most offer at least one higher level artist grade and a lower level called student grade. Because I’m an amateur, I use exclusively student grade paints. I’m still trying to learn the ins and outs of how oils work, so it makes sense to me to be more frugal right now. Of course, I said the same thing about pencils, and I really never switched from Prismacolor Premiers even after years of practice.
Along with Gamblin 1980 paints, I believe the Utrecht Studio Series to be among the best of the student grade tier. The colors with this tier of Utrecht paints have good depth and vibrant color. I would certainly say the Utrecht and Gamblin student grade paints are very similar in terms of pigment quality – they both look great on paper. The only area that I would knock the Utrecht paints is that I do experience filler/binder leakage when I use them. In fact, with the Ultramarine Blue, it was leaking even with cap on. But that’s kind of the deal with student grade paint; it has a lot of those additives. The flip side though is that Utrecht studio series is typically less expensive than Gamblin, plus the larger tubes come in 200ml rather than the 150ml you get with Gamblin. My approach has been to buy Gamblin 1980 paint for my most important colors, then fill out the rest of my supply with Utrecht Studio Series (especially for paints I need a lot of like Titanium White). Prices do vary based on color.
I’ve embedded a comparison video above which compares four different brands of student grade oil paints – Gamblin 1980, Utrecht Studio Series, Master’s Touch (a craft store brand), and Castle Arts. Of the paints I compared, Gamblin 1980 and Utrecht were definitely the stand outs. Although online images don’t always shows colors accurately to real life, you can tell even in this comparison video that the Utrecht seems to have a richer pigment to it in comparison to Castle Arts. Both of these were Burnt Umber. That level of color difference matches my general experience with other colors. Although my experience level as an artist is definitely in the “amateur/learning” phase, I’ve used these enough to develop fairly clear preferences at this point.
In terms of availability, you can find Utrecht paints at most craft and specialty stores, but probably not major retailers like Walmart and Target. I usually buy them from Blick Art Supplies because the price is the best I’ve found, but Cheap Joe’s is also a good option. Although they are often also available at craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, I find that those are often the most expensive places to buy Utrecht paints. Availability is slightly worse/less reliable at brick and mortar stores compared to Gamblin 1980 in my experience. But still fairly easy to get at Blick and Joe’s.
Be bold with color and never worry about the cost!
Utrecht Studio Series Oil Colors offer great workability, consistent performance, and dependable lightfastness at an affordable price. Available in a concise assortment of popular colors, these medium-bodied oils are the perfect introductory choice for students and anyone new to oil painting.
Utrecht Studio Series Oils are made in Brooklyn, New York.
Packaging Update Note — Please be advised that packaging for the 200 ml (6.75 oz) tubes has been updated. While the formula has not changed, customers may receive 200 ml (6.75 oz) tubes with original packaging until inventory is depleted.