Oil Colors

By Alex

I use two brands of oil paint. Winsor & Newton's Winton and Old Holland Classic Oil Colors.

My colors


  • Flake White Hue
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Permanent Rose
  • Ivory Black
  • Prussian Blue

These are the only Winton colors that I use. Almost the same colors were used by L.S. Lowry, with one change. Lowry used Vermillion as his red but I find Permanent Rose to be more useful. Permanent Rose is the primary red in the Winton range.

Winton are strong colors that are cheap and come in big tubes. I use them straight from the tube, no medium.

Old Holland:

  • Mixed White #2 (not as overpowering as Titanium White)
  • Mars Yellow (same pigment as Yellow Ochre but more opaque)
  • Vermillion Extra
  • Ivory Black

These four colors are often referred to as the "Zorn palette". They are the only colors that are really needed for portraits.

Bright oranges, greens, all blues and most mauve and purple colors require one, or more, of these extra colors:

  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Old Delft Blue
  • Scheveningen Rose Deep
  • Dioxazine Mauve
  • Cobalt Green

Sometimes I need a very strong white or black:

  • Titanium White
  • Mars Black

I also have a bunch of earth colors. Close approximations to all of these can be made from the "Zorn" colors. Sometimes it's easier to use a ready made earth color than to take time mixing it:

  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • Yellow Ochre Half Burnt
  • Old Holland Ochre
  • Deep Ochre
  • Raw Umber
  • Burnt Umber
  • English Red
  • Venetian Red
  • Caput Mortum