I am often asked which brands of paint I prefer. The short answer is, I don't care, as long as they are top quality, professional grade. I buy the most expensive paints regardless of brand name, price is always a good gauge. Using the best paints provides the widest range of creative effects and expressive possibilities.
It is true that different manufacturers make their paints with different working properties and they also choose different sources for their pigments, so the colors may vary, particularly with the natural organic pigments like the iron oxide colors. This is why I have Burnt Sienna paints made by more than one company for example.
There are essentially 3 qualities of paint that you can purchase: Premium, professional grade; medium, or 'student' grade, and; inexpensive 'hobby' quality. I am suggesting that you only buy the very best. These paints are made with the best ingredients that ensure permanence, and the greatest range of color effects possible. Remember too that you will need much more of the inexpensive grades of paint to achieve similar results of opacity and color intensity compared to the best quality samples, so the money you save by purchasing them will not be so great.
1. The first one on the left is made with the best quality, most expensive paints available.
2. The middle one is done with 'economical' medium grade paints that sell for approximately 1/2 the price of the best quality ones.
3. The painting on the far right was executed using inexpensive, low grade paint that is again about 50% less expensive than the medium grade variety.
High quality paints will give you the most creative freedom: You can use them to make paintings that look like the one in the middle or far right; the medium grade paint can be made to look like the cheap paint, but will not have the color intensity or luminosity of the good paint; the cheap paint will always look dull and muddy, there is no fix for that.
Just buy the most expensive, best quality paints available. Buy them on sale, buy them on eBay, buy them used even. Just make sure they are the best. It makes all the difference.