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Surfaces and Primers

Stretched, primed canvas is the traditional support for oil colour. Canvas boards are also popular. Winsor Canvas are recommended for the artist wanting to exploit a variety of techniques and ensure long term stability. Paper can also be used, provided it is sized and primed correctly.

Heavyweight Winsor & Newton Water Colour Paper primed thinly with Acrylic Gesso Primer is ideal.


Solvents are used to dilute colours and to clean brushes and equipment. English Distilled Turpentine makes a viscous mixture which evaporates slowly. It is the most hazardous and strongest smelling solvent, and can deteriorate on storage. Artists’ White [or mineral] Spirit (not available in the USA) makes a watery mixture which evaporates quickly and is less hazardous. It does not deteriorate on storage. Sansodor makes a viscous mixture, which evaporates slowly, and is the least hazardous. It does not deteriorate on storage, has a minimal odour and can be travelled with safely.

Click here for more information on Solvents.

Oils and Mediums

Oils and mediums alter the handling characteristics of the colour and help to maintain the flexibility of the finished painting (fat over lean) Oils are the traditional, slower drying choice whilst alkyd based mediums, such as Liquin, are favoured due to their speeding the drying time of the painting.

Read about Oils and Mediums


Varnishes are used to protect finished paintings. For fine art usage, picture varnishes should be removable so that the painting can be cleaned in the future. Our varnishes are labelled “gloss” or “matt” and vary according to the different resins used.

Read about Varnishes


To thickly apply colour or impasto, bristle brushes are most common. Winsor & Newton have two ranges, Artists’ Hog and Winton. The stiff nature of the bristle and its natural split tips, (called ‘flags’), result in brushes which wear well and carry considerable quantities of colour. To blend and glaze, a soft hairbrush is recommended such as the Sceptre Gold II which are a blend of natural and synthetic fibres.


Mahogany palettes are the traditional palette for oil colour. However, because canvases are primarily white, white expendable paper palettes are popular amongst artists. They can also be disposed of at the end of each painting session.