Surfaces and Primers

Stretched, primed canvas is the traditional surface for oil colour but in recent years canvas board has become increasingly popular, particularly for sketching and painting outdoors. Winsor Canvas, Winsor Linen or Winsor Board are recommended if the artist wants 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 recommended.

Artists can also prepare their own grounds using Winsor & Newton Primers: Acrylic Gesso Primer, Clear Gesso Base or Galeria Gesso can be used. Traditional Oil Painting Primer can also be used, but generally requires size underneath.


Solvents (or thinners) are used to dilute Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour and to clean brushes and palettes after painting. The solvent evaporates as part of the drying process.

There are three main solvents which oil painters use, each one having its own characteristics and benefits. The traditional solvent is English Distilled Turpentine which has a strong and characteristic smell. It helps to maintain the oiliness of the colour but can deteriorate when stored. Artists’ White Spirit (mineral spirit) makes a watery mixture with the colour and evaporates more quickly. It is less hazardous than Turpentine, is cheaper and does not deteriorate on storage.

Finally, Sansodor performs in a similar way to turpentine but has a low odour and is the least hazardous of all the solvents. It does not deteriorate on storage. All solvents should be used in well ventilated conditions.


Mediums allow you to alter the characteristics and working properties of your tube colour e.g. consistency, gloss, drying rate and texture. They work by diluting the colour and the addition of mediums whilst painting ensures that the artist does not overthin their paint.

There are two main types which can be used with Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colours; oil based and alkyd based. The oil based mediums are traditional and combine oils and solvents which will slow down the drying process of the painting. The alkyd based mediums combine synthetic alkyd resins with solvents to maintain the drying process, the most popular of these is Liquin.


Varnishes provide a transparent coating which protects your finished painting from general dirt. Picture varnishes are removable, enabling the painting to be cleaned in the future.

Varnishes should not be used as mediums for adding to the colour. Although Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour paintings are touch dry in 18-24 hours they should not be varnished until thoroughly dry (at least 3 months).


Winsor & Newton have over 100 years experience in making brushes for artists. A selection of good brushes provides a choice of marks and makes it easier for you to paint. If well cared for, brushes will have a long lifespan. If using thickly applied colour or impasto, bristle brushes are the most common. Winsor & Newton supplies two ranges particularly suitable for oil; Artists’ Hog, Winton.

If you prefer a synthetic hair brush, the Artisan range has been specifically designed for use with oil colour. The stiff nature of the bristle and its natural split tips, called ‘flags’, produce brushes which wear well and carry considerable quantities of colour.

If blending and glazing is more prevalent in your technique, a soft hair brush is recommended. Cirrus sables or the blend of sable and synthetic in the Sceptre Gold series are most commonly used (in the USA Lexington II - bristle/synthetic and Monarch – synthetic mongoose brushes are also used).

Palettes and Dippers

Wooden palettes can be used with Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour but white melamine palettes are often preferred by today’s painters because canvases are commonly white. This means the colour you see on your palette will also look the same on the canvas. Expendable paper palettes which can be disposed of at the end of each painting session.

Dippers are specially designed to minimise the risk of spillage. Dippers are clipped onto or placed alongside your palette to hold solvent and mediums during painting.