The Seven Best Brands of Water Mixable Oil Paints

Paint brush with oil paint on a classical palette
Hedda Gjerpen / E+ / Getty Images

Water-mixable oil paints are designed to thin and clean up with water, so they're a good option if you want to paint with oils but avoid working with solvents. Every artist will have their own preferred brand of water mixable oil paints, based on things such as color range, availability, and price, but don't stick with a brand simply because it was the first you bought. I recommend doing a paint comparison test of a similar color in various brands to see how you feel about each.

Royal Talens Cobra Water Mixable Oils

Cobra Water Mixable Oil Paint
©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans

Cobra water-mixable oil paints are produced by Royal Talens. It comes in two variations, Artist and Study, which are artist's quality and student quality respectively. The artist's range has 70 colors, including 32 single-pigment colors, across four price bands. The student's has 40 colors, all one price band. (Cobra Color Chart). Glazing and impasto mediums. (Cobra was previously branded Van Gogh H2Oil.)

Royal Talens wipes and washes from a brush really easily with water—great for cleaning up. There's practically no smell from the paint. Colors are intense, and the paint not too sticky. Having the two ranges gets it first spot in this list.

Holbein Duo Aqua Water Mixable Oils

A small introductory set of Holbein Duo water soluble oils.
©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans

Holbein Duo Aqua Oil Colors are formulated to be diluted with water and to dry faster than traditional oils. Duo Aqua is the only brand which says it can be mixed with acrylics, watercolor and gouache as well as with traditional oil paint. It's this versatility which puts it on this list. As with other brands, once you mix it with about a third of traditional oil paint, it'll no longer be water soluble. Range of 100 colors. Mediums include quick-drying and glazing.

Reader Gary S says: "Holbein's Duo Aqua is buttery and indistinguishable from standard oil paint. If Duo Aqua paints were universally available, I think many more artists would have favorable opinions of water-soluble oils."

Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oils

Water mixable oil paint
©2007 Marion Boddy-Evans

The water-mixable oil paints produced by Winsor & Newton are branded Artisan. There are 40 colors available, priced in two series (W&N color chart). Artisan can be mixed with traditional oil paint, or painted on top of acrylics. W&N advise against mixing it with acrylic paint. Mediums include fast-drying, glazing, and impasto.

According to W&N, "... Artisan could be considered an artists' grade, however, the inclusions of hues and the shorter palette [colors available] means that Artisan can in fact be considered somewhere between an artists' and students' grade and is therefore priced accordingly."

Some users have found Artisan to be stickier from the tube than most other paints.

Grumbacher MaxWater Mixable Oils

Grumbacher Max Water Miscible Oil Paint
Amazon.com

Grumbacher Max is made from the same pigments and linseed oil as Grumbacher's traditional, professional oil paints, and drying times are similar. Available in 60 colors. Can be mixed with traditional oil paint and mediums. Quick-drying and linseed oil mediums.

Lukas Berlin Water Mixable Oil Paint

LUKAS Berlin Water-Mixable Oil Colors
Amazon.com

Berlin is a brand of water-mixable oil paint produced by Lukas, with drying time comparable to Lukas' oil paints. There are 24 professional quality colors available to choose from. 

Weber wOil Water Mixable Artist Oil Colors

Weber wOil Color Set
Amazon.com

Weber wOil is produced by Martin/F Weber Co, which produces Bob Ross oil paints. Weber wOil performs like traditional oil paints and the drying time is slightly faster than traditional oils. Around 30 colors are available.

Reeves Water Mixable Oils

Reeves 24-Pack Water Mixable Oil Colour Tube Set
Amazon.com

If you fancy the idea of water-soluble oil paint and want to try it without spending very much, consider a small set of Reeves' water mixable oils. Then if you like it, you can upgrade.

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