1. What are the primary colours in the Winton Oil Colour range?

The three primary colours in the Winton Oil Colour range are Cadmium Yellow Hue, French Ultramarine and Permanent Rose. These colours are the best selection when only three colours are used.

2. How do the whites in Winton Oil Colour differ?

The choice of whites in Winton Oil Colour ensures that artists have the widest possible selection, as in every other part of the spectrum. White is the most used colour. The four whites in Winton Oil Colour offer different working characteristics to the painter.

Titanium White
The most popular modern white. It is the whitest, most opaque white.

Flake White Hue
A less hazardous alternative to the traditional lead based white. This colour has been formulated to match the tinting strength and consistency of the original Flake White.

Zinc White
The least opaque white, making it ideal for tints and glazing.

Soft Mixing White
A titanium based white with the softest consistency. It has lower tinting strength than Titanium White.

3. What are the drying times for Winton Oil colours?

All colours will become touch dry in 2-12 days. The different drying rates are due to the different reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil.

Winsor & Newton formulate colours to optimize drying rates, helping artists to avoid the problems of slow drying underlayers. However, the following list is a guide to the likely variations:

Fast drying (around 2 days):

Medium Drying (around 5 days):

Slow Drying (more than 5 days):

Prussian Blue
Raw Sienna

Phthalo Blue and Viridian Hue (phthalocyanines)
Burnt Sienna
Ultramarine Blues
Synthetic Iron Oxides
Titanium White
Zinc White
Lamp Black
Ivory Black

Cadmium Hues (arylamides)
Permanent Rose (Quinacridone)
Alizarin Crimson Hue

As with all oil paintings, to avoid yellowing of the oil, paintings should not be allowed to dry in places with continuous darkness or high humidity.

4. Which white should be used for underpainting?

Safflower whites are not recommended for extensive underpainting or as a primer. When oil colours dry, the paint film undergoes a number of dimensional changes, increasing and decreasing in weight as different chemical reactions occur.  

Semi-drying oils, such as safflower and poppy oil, undergo greater dimensional changes than linseed oil. While a safflower oil based white is perfectly appropriate for use in normal applications and mixing, it is not suitable for use with underpainting. The movement of the film can lead to cracking the layers applied above.

For underpainting, we recommend Arists' Oil Colour Underpainting White - Titanium pigment ground in linseed oil which is recommended for under-painting or extensive layering with white. It has added texture to assist adhesion of later layers and is fast drying.


5. What does hue mean when used in colour name?

"Hue" means colour and indicates that a modern pigment has been used instead of the traditional one. For example, 'Cadmium Red Pale Hue' is a 'colour of cadmium red pale'. A hue colour is not necessarily inferior.

6. "Oiling out" is recommended for dull areas of a completed oil painting, how is this done?

Oiling out is the application of an oil medium to a painting which has sunk (become dull), or lost its oil to the layer underneath. The most common causes for this are an over- absorbent, cheap ground or the use of too much solvent and insufficient or no medium. When the colour is dry, Artists’ Painting Medium should be sparingly rubbed into any sunken areas with a clean cloth. Wipe off any residue and leave to dry for a day or two. If smaller, dull areas remain, repeat the process until the painting has regained an even sheen. Varnishes should not be used for the purpose of recovering the lustre of a dead painting. For a faster drying oiling out medium, use Thickened Linseed Oil diluted with 50% white spirit (mineral spirits).  

7. What is the "fat over lean" painting rule? 

Fat over lean is better understood if considered as ‘flexible over less flexible’. When painting in layers, the proportion of medium used in each layer should be increased. The higher proportion of medium makes subsequent layers more flexible and prevents the painting from cracking. This rule has traditionally been kept by adding more and more oil to the solvent used. However, as Liquin is now more commonly used, it is the Liquin content which is increased. There is no need to use oil as well.

8. What are the three basic oil paining rules? 

When painting with oil colour, artists must adhere to three conventional oil painting rules:

1. Fat over lean  - (see explanation below). When oil painting in layers, each successive layer must be more flexible than the one underneath. This rule is maintained by adding more medium to each successive layer.
2. Thick over thin - Thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin under layers. Thin layers on impasto paintings are likely to crack.
3. Slow over fast drying colour - Slow drying colours should not form continuous under layers as any faster drying layers on top may crack.

9. Without adding linseed oil to it, are Winton Oil Colours be more or less viscose than Artists' Oil Colour, so easier to apply to the canvas?

The Winton range has a more uniform consistency than Artists' Oil Colour and is slightly stiffer. It offers excellent retention of brush and palette knife strokes.

10. What are the best brushes to use with Winton Oil colour?

There is one main benchmark for brushes that are used with thick or viscous colour; the thicker the colour, the stiffer the brush needs to be. A heavy paint like oil requires a brush with enough resilience to manipulate the colour with complete control.

However, a colour that has been thinned will need softer tuft (e.g. soft hair or filament) and a colour that has been thinned to a fluid consistency needs a brush with flow control (e.g. synthetic or natural hair brush such as sable).

11. Why should an oil painting be varnished?

Varnish is desirable for two key reasons: one, to bring the surface to a uniform gloss level (matt or gloss or somewhere in between), and; two, for protection from dust and other atmospheric contaminants. 

12. How should an oil painting be varnished?

Varnishes are used to protect the finished painting. Picture varnishes should be removable so that paintings can be cleaned when they have become dirty.

There are two important things to remember about varnishes:

  • Don't varnish too early, even the thinnest oil painting should be allowed to dry for 6 months. A minimum of one month is required for thin Griffin alkyd paintings.

  • Don't use varnishes as mediums, this would make the painting sensitive to solvent. An attempt to clean it in the future may remove the painting instead.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Here are eight simple steps to varnishing success:

1) Use a 1”- 4” flat wide, soft, tightly packed, varnishing brush (such as the Winsor & Newton Monarch glazing/varnishing brush).  Keep it clean and use it only for varnishing.

2) Place the work to be varnished flat on a table - do not varnish vertically.

3) Apply the varnish in 1-3 thin coats, rather than 1 thick coat. A thick coat will take longer to dry, may dry cloudy, drip or sag during application and has a greater chance of showing brush strokes when dry.

4) Thinned varnish is more susceptible to producing bubbles. Do not be vigorous in your application.

5) Apply in long even strokes to cover the surface top to bottom while moving from one side to the other. While working, inspect the varnish layer at all angles for bubbles. Even them out immediately.

6) Once you leave an area, do not go back over areas that you have done. If you do, you risk dragging partially dry resin into wet, which will dry cloudy over dark colours. If any areas were missed, allow to dry completely and re-varnish.

7) After varnishing, it is recommended that the surface should be shielded from dust with a protective plastic film “tent”.