The categories I use to rate manufacturers in my oil paint brand reference–low-end, mid-range, and high-end–are based on price and quality. While there is a lot of churn in the low-end category, most brands are student-grade and I use them infrequently. The best feature for most of these brands is their price–cheap. That’s not true for all brands, however, some are actually very pricey considering their mediocre quality. These brands typically use blends of pigments to derive their colors, and their pigment to binder ratios are high.
The prices for the high-end brands continue to rise to ever more lurid and ridiculous heights. I refuse to spend $200+ for a tube a paint, so I buy those brands less and less frequently.
All this makes the mid-range brands even more important. All mid-range brands are good to great paint with good to poor (high) prices. Frequent readers know that Winsor Newton has been my go-to mid-range brand for several years. But lately I’ve been using RGH and Blue Ridge paints and I am satisfied with their quality. The quality of both brands equal or surpasses WN, and their prices are very competitive. So RGH and Blue Ridge are now my choices for the all-important mid-range brand.
Both brands are outstanding and very good value for the price. Both manufacturers produce paints that are heavily pigmented. Blue Ridge paints seem to be ground a little more finely than RGH. Plus RGH still puts a lot of their paints in jars instead of tubes, which I consider a negative. The viridian green in the accompanying photograph has stayed fresh for a long time, but whites will dry quickly unless precautions are taken (I keep mine in double-bagged baggies). I would never buy a jar of any of the fast-drying paints such as raw umber.
Jars or not, RGH lead-based whites are a little more pigmented than their Blue Ridge competitors. RGH also lets you pick the binder for their whites. This makes RGH unique. It’s very smart marketing for artists like me who pay attention to things like binders.
I updated my Oil Paint Brand Reference with my new choices for mid-range brands.