Michael Harding oil paint is made by hand, using techniques which date back to the days of the Old Masters, and there’s a very simple reason for this painstaking process…

Michael Harding started making oil colours back in 1982 whilst studying Fine Art at university. As an artist and painter he wanted to create colours that were true and vibrant, and paint which was beautiful and durable. He had always been inspired by Rembrandt’s paintings in the National Gallery, and wanted to try to replicate Rembrandt’s paint effects and glorious colours in his own work. After a number of months of intensive research Michael turned his flat into a small oil paint factory.

Never worked with oil paints before? Check out our handy guide here.


“There were various experiments before I hit on the right consistency and then gradually the hard work began to pay off, I produced my first paints and suddenly found myself in business. Almost immediately I started supplying the Royal College of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Word spread and demand for my paint grew at an alarming rate. As an artist and painter I wanted to create colours that were true and vibrant, and paint which was beautiful and durable.”  

– Michael Harding


Michael’s handmade oils have a creamy and buttery consistency, are easy to handle and manipulate. The high quality pigmentation in Michael Harding oil paint ensures that they have an incredible resistance to fading. Like all oil paints, Michael’s oils are made up of binders and pigment. If you think of paint as a two-part material, with the oil being the glue that binds the pigment particles into place, it is the pigment that is responsible for delivering the colour. The pigment must therefore have the following qualities:

  • It must be light-fast to a reasonable level
  • It must not be soluble in oil or in thinners like turpentine
  • It must have the right pH balance (i.e. acid to alkaline) with the linseed oil or other oil into which it is ground, otherwise the pigment might have little resistance to the bleaching effect of an acidic oil (which would cause a marked colour shift)
  • It must not, in normal circumstances, react chemically with other pigments in the range.


When choosing pigments, Michael Harding divides pigments into two groups: inorganic and organic. Around 85% of Artists Oils are made from a single pigment, meaning you will be receiving the purest pigment possible when using Michael Harding oil paint. For some colours, more than one pigment is needed to achieve the correct colour shade. All pigments are genuine bound together with Linseed oil.

“The quality of pigment that I, as a colour man, can obtain has never been higher. And as I aim to produce what Chris Ofili has described as ‘beautifully honest’ paint I intend to take advantage of all the advantages of modern paint chemistry.”

-Michael Harding


Once created in the factory, Michael Harding oil paint is left for a few weeks for ripening before being filled in their tubes. The hand painted coloured strip is then placed on the tube and left to dry for another few weeks. This process is in place to ensure that every customer knows exactly what colour they will be purchasing.

Looking for more ways to transform your oil paint artwork? Take a look at our other blogs.

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All Michael Harding oil paints can be found on our website. They are available in 40ml and 225ml tubes with up to 30% off in our Winter sale! Plus, if you buy 3 or more 225ml tubes you will receive a FREE 225ml Titanium White 2 set worth £30! Offers end 28/02/16, while stocks last…

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