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Is Oil Painting Expensive? An Honest Overview of Costs

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Oil painting seems to have a reputation for being more difficult to do and requiring more materials than water-based painting.

In reality, painting with oils only requires the use of a few additional supplies, namely, mediums. 

Is oil painting expensive? Oil painting can be expensive, depending on the types of supplies you buy, but it doesn’t have to be! Basic supplies can cost less than $100. Opting for student-grade paints, purchasing multipurpose brushes and canvases, and buying in bulk are all wise choices that can save you money. 

If you are curious about what supplies are necessary for oil painting as well as their average cost, then this article is for you.

You will also learn money-saving tips as well as best value options for oil painting materials.

Oil Painting Costs

Oil painting costs can vary greatly depending on the quality of the item being purchased.

For example, oil paints can range from a couple dollars an ounce (or less, if purchased in a set) to over $15 per ounce.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to use more expensive supplies in order to create beautiful oil paintings.

EquipmentAverage Cost
Cleaning supplies$3.00/ounce

Initial Costs When Getting Started

As with any hobby, you will probably spend the most money when you’re first getting started.

The upfront costs of supplies can seem daunting at first, but with some shopping around you can get everything you need without breaking the bank. 


When you’re just getting started there’s no need to spend big on professional-grade oil paints.

If you have a good understanding of or are willing to learn the art and science of color mixing, you will only need a few primary colors as well as black and white.

Otherwise, it’s a good idea to purchase a set that comes with a wider variety of colors.

Best Value Option: Winsor & Newton Oil Colour Starter Set

Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Color Paint, Starter Set, 10 x 37ml Tubes, 1.25 Fl Oz (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for student and amateur artists or more accomplished painters requiring large volumes of color...
  • A high level of pigmentation provides good covering power and tinting strength

This set contains 10 tubes (37 milliliters each) of vibrant colors that are perfect for beginners.

The large tube sizes mean you won’t have to feel guilty about practicing and experimenting as there is more than enough to last you a long time.


Bristle brushes are the best choice when it comes to oil painting. It’s very easy to spend big on oil painting brushes, but it’s not necessary.

There are many brush sets and brush types that are designed for use with multiple mediums that work perfectly fine with oil paint.

Purchasing a set with at minimum a larger wash brush, a medium round brush, and a smaller detail brush is a good place to start.

Best Value Option: ARTIFY Professional Paint Brush Set

ARTIFY 15 Pieces Professional Natural Chungking Bristle Oil Paint Brush Set, Long and Heavy Handle, Perfect for Oil and Acrylic Painting
  • NATUARL WOODEN HANDLES: Our fine artist brushes are individually handmade with luxury wood color...
  • VERSATILE ASSORTMENT: The 15 long handle brushes have a luxurious Brush Selection. Fan: Size 4, 8;...

This set gives you the most bang for your buck with 15 different size and style hogs’ bristle brushes set on real wooden handles. 


Canvases can range in price from a few dollars per canvas to hundreds of dollars, depending on size and quality.

Again, it’s perfectly fine to go with a more cost-effective version, especially when you are just beginning, and a less-expensive canvas should not affect your finished product too much.

Best Value Option: PHOENIX White Cotton Canvas

PHOENIX Stretched Canvas for Painting 18x24 Inch/5 Value Pack, 8 Oz Triple Primed 5/8 Inch Profile 100% Cotton White Blank Canvas, Large Framed Canvas for Oil Acrylic & Pouring Art
  • ✮【100 % COTTON CANVAS】– Made from natural cotton with medium texture, these canvases for...
  • ✮【PINEWOOD STRETCHER BARS】– Standard size for easy framing and hanging on the wall. Wood...

This set of five 18” x 24” sized canvases is a great deal for any artist who likes to paint big!


Mediums can include linseed oil, turpentine, and mineral spirits. These mediums are used to transform the consistency and change the drying time of the oil paints.

They typically don’t cost that much and can be purchased at bulk prices.

Best Value Option: Windsor & Newton Linseed Oil

Winsor & Newton Artisan Linseed Oil, 250ml (8.4-oz) bottle
  • This oil reduces the consistency and improves flow of artisan oil colours
  • It also increases gloss and transparency, slows drying

If you’re looking to make your oil paints more fluid and slow their drying time, Windsor & Newton’s Linseed Oil is a high-quality product that can be purchased at an affordable price. 


Easels can vary in price from a few dollars to over a hundred dollars.

A nice, sturdy wooden easel may cost more than a lightweight, plastic easel, but if you don’t have a studio and are looking for something that is easy to transport, then the cheaper easel will be the choice for you.

You also don’t have to use an easel; many artists do their best work at the (properly protected) dining room table!

Best Value Option: ShowMaven French Easel

ShowMaven French Easel with Wheels, Portable Rolling Sketch Box Red Beech Oil Painting Wood Easel with Palette
  • Material:         Beech
  • Brand:            ShowMaven
  • Item Weight:  15.88 Pounds

This is a portable easel with wheels that comes with telescoping legs and a sketch box with four storage compartments. Perfect for painting on location!


Palettes for oil paints can be made of glass, plastic, wood, or even an old dinner plate or a piece of wax paper!

If you find yourself fretting about picking the perfect palette, try to remember the acronym K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Silly!

Best Value Option: Bligo Clear Paint Palette

Bligo 2 Pcs Clear Acrylic Paint Palette for DIY Art Craft Painting, Transparent Oval Artist Palette for Oil Paints Mixing, Easy Clean, 10 x 6 Inches
  • [Premium Quality] - Made of durable acrylic material, which is better than glass, Bligo crystal...
  • [Comfortable to Hold] - Our paint tray in oval shape, with a oval thumb hole, is lightweight, and...

This set comes with two transparent palettes that are made of acrylic, making them a good choice if you’re looking for palettes that are durable and reusable.

Cleaning Supplies

Paint thinner, turpentine, baby oil, artist’s soap, and brush cleaner can all be used to clean oil brushes after use.

You don’t have to purchase all of these cleaning supplies, but at bare minimum you will want to use a paint thinner and a good-quality soap. 

Best Value Option: Windso & Newton Distilled Turpentine

Winsor & Newton Oil & Alkyd Solvents English distilled turpentine 250 ml
  • Strong thinner and brush cleaner
  • Pure spirits of gum turpentine

This turpentine can be used to effectively thin oil paints, as well as to clean brushes after use.

Ongoing Costs When Oil Painting

You will, of course, continue to use paint, white often being the most used hue.

You will also need to keep purchasing canvases, although this cost can be offset if you learn to stretch and frame your canvases yourself. 

You typically don’t need to use a lot of mediums or cleaning supplies, and can save money by buying these items in bulk. If you take good care of your brushes, they can last for years. 

As your skills increase, you may find yourself wanting to try more luxurious paints or experimenting with different kinds of brushes, which can definitely add up but can also lead to beautiful results that are worth the cost!

Money-Saving Tips When Oil Painting

  • Only put a little bit of paint at a time on the palette. It’s always easy to add more, but it’s not so simple to put paint back into the tube! 
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean your brushes and properly store them after each painting session. 
  • Buy in bulk when possible. 

Related Questions: 

Why Is Oil Paint So Expensive?

The higher quality and content of pigment an oil paint contains, the more it will cost.
There are, however, plenty of cost-effective options when it comes to oil paints, so don’t feel like you have to spend lots of money to get a set of oil paints that will work well and be fun to paint with.

Which Type of Painting Is Best for Beginners?

Oil painting is actually a great choice for beginners! Due to its slow-drying nature, oil paints can be manipulated over a greater amount of time and can be easier to blend than water-based paints. 


While the initial cost of oil painting supplies can be daunting, it doesn’t have to be debilitating.

Choosing student-grade paints, purchasing sets of multipurpose brushes, picking lower cost canvases, and making DIY palettes are all great ways to save a few dollars when you’re first getting started on your oil painting enterprise.


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