When I started my oil paint brand reference, I excluded ‘student grade’ brands. The distinction between student grade and other brands was based on price. Everyone understands that you get what you pay for but art supplies is one product area where the old adage is not reliable. Art supply manufacturers include some of the most cynical operators on the planet. So I modified my position to include the modestly-priced brands such as Van Gogh.
The Van Gogh brand is manufactured by the Dutch Royal Talens company. Royal Talens takes pains to distinguish this brand from its more expensive Rembrandt brand. Royal Talens describes its Van Gogh line as “…great for beginners, and students in advanced studies…” Van Gogh oils are for students by design; I can affirm that it reached this modest goal.
The three tubes I bought are all single pigment colors–a good thing. Pigment info is provided by the online vendor Blick (so of questionable reliability) but not on the tubes themselves, which is annoying. None of the purchased colors performed very well; they were stiff under the brush and not very covering. By itself, stiff paint isn’t a negative quality. The paint from the premium brand Old Holland are stiffer than average but that is due to heavy pigment load. Heavily-pigmented paint is the most covering.
The key feature of the Van Gogh brand is affordability. The most expensive 40ml tube is $10 (cheap!). You can buy a 10 tube set for $30 (dirt cheap!) If I was a student, the question I’d ask is how does this brand compare to similarly-priced brands such as Mater’s Touch? In my experience there is no performance difference among low-end brands, so price is an important factor. Another factor in Van Gogh’s favor is that it offers few ‘designer’ colors intended to attract hobbyists and amateurs. Van Gogh paints seems to be for the cost conscious but serious art student.