1. Can Artisan Oil Colour be mixed with regular oil colours?  

Artisan Oil Colours and Mediums can be mixed with conventional oil colours and conventional mediums. However, the resultant mixture will be progressively less water mixable, the more conventional oil colour or oil colour mediums are used. We recommend using Artisan colours and mediums exclusively in order to benefit from the use of water instead of solvents.

2. Can Artisan Oil Colour be mixed with acrylic paints?

Artisan (or any other type of oil colour) cannot be mixed with acrylics on the palette.  However, it is possible to apply Artisan (or any other type of oil colour) on top of acrylic, but never acrylic on top of oil colour.  It is best to ensure that the lower layers of acrylic are kept as thin as possible.

3. How should an Artisan Painting be varnished?

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. Artisan paintings should not be varnished until thoroughly dry (at least 6 months). There are three Artisan varnishes available – Gloss, Matt and Satin depending upon the desired finish. The painting will benefit from being degreased before varnishing. This can be done with either Artisan Thinner or Artists’ White Spirit (mineral spirits). Simply wipe over the surface of the picture sparingly and leave to dry overnight. Apply the varnish using a large dry varnishing brush, immerse the brush in the chosen varnish and apply in long steady strokes across the painting surface. To ensure the desired result, test before use. Matt and Satin should be shaken or stirred well before use and should not be used on absorbent or damaged surfaces.


4. How can Artisan varnish be removed?

Artisan Varnish can be readily removed when dirty. To remove Artisan Gloss, Matt or Satin Varnish, apply the Varnish Remover generously onto a lint free cloth and gently rub into the varnish film. If slight pigment is visible on the cloth this is an indication that the removal has been successful. Use plenty of clean cloth to ensure varnish is being removed from the surface. Avoid undue abrasion.

5. How long does Artisan take to dry?

When Artisan is thinned with water, the water evaporates from the paint film fairly rapidly, leaving behind a conventional film of oil that dries by means of oxidation. The different drying rates of Artisan colours are due to the different reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil. Winsor & Newton formulate each colour individually to optimise its drying rate, 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

Cadmium Hues
Phthalo Blue (red shade) and Phthalo Greens
French Ultramarine
Synthetic Iron Oxides
Titanium White
Zinc White
Lamp Black
Ivory Black

Permanent Rose (quinacridone)
Permanent  Alizarin Crimson 

6. How can the drying time of Artisan be reduced?

Artisan Fast Drying Medium improves the flow and speeds the drying of Artisan oil colours, smoothes brushwork and increases gloss and transparency. It is excellent for glazing and producing fine detail and is resistant to yellowing.

This is a very popular medium as it speeds the drying of oil colour by about 50%, allowing further layers to be applied more quickly. The formulation has been improved and this has helped to wet the colour better. It thins the colour and increases gloss and transparency. When painting in layers it can substitute linseed oil and be combined with water and/ or thinner to maintain 'fat over lean.'

7. Which mediums can be used with Artisan?

On an individual level, using water mixable colour straight from the tube with only a little water, can produce a perfectly sound painting.  But to enforce this method on all oil painters would be extremely limiting. Individual artists want to manipulate flow, consistency, drying rates, levels of gloss, the list goes on.  These methods can only be achieved with mediums. At Winsor & Newton, we believe a water mixable oil should perform just like a conventional oil colour but simply use water instead of hazardous solvents.  This performance requires mediums, so we've made five of those too.

The chemistry of Artisan colours and mediums is of course different from conventional oils and different brands of water mixable oils are not necessarily compatible.  We can only recommend the use of Artisan mediums with Artisan colours.

8. How should mediums be used in successive layers of Artisan?

Oil painting with Artisan requires attention to the same oil painting rules as conventional oil colour:

Fat over lean (flexible over less flexible). 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.
Thick over thin. Thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin under layers. Thin layers on impasto paintings are likely to crack.
Slow drying over fast. Slow drying colours should not form continuous under layers as any faster drying layers on top may crack.

9. Can Artisan mediums be combined?

Artisan Mediums can be mixed together. If you do want to modify any of the mediums by mixing them do so thoroughly and stir before every use.

Making Your Own Mediums to Use with Artisan Colour.

Many people mix linseed oil and solvent together whilst painting with conventional oils. You can add do this with Artisan by adding Thinner or water to Artisan Linseed Oil, Safflower Oil or Stand Oil. If you do make your own medium, mix the components thoroughly and stir every time before use.

10. How much Artisan Medium should be added to the tube colour?

Mediums are additives and as such should be used in modest proportions, just enough to achieve the desired result. Too much Artisan Linseed Oil or Stand Oil will lead to wrinkling of the surface, just as it would with conventional oils.

11. Can Artisan varnishes be used on conventional oils colours, such as Winsor & Newton Artists' Oil Colours and Winton Oil colours?

It is ok to apply Artisan Varnishes on top of conventional oil colour.  Ensure that the painting has been allowed to dry for a minimum of 6 months.  It may be best to give the painting a light rub over with Artists’ White Spirit before applying the varnish.

12. To follow the "fat over lean", can water be substituted for turpentine? 

In terms of "fat over lean" water can be thought of as a solvent for Artisan.  For best results do not use water.  Although Artisan is fully mixable with water, Artisan Thinner has a stronger solvency than water.  This means that Artisan will accept comparatively more Artisan Thinner than water.  Therefore Artisan can be thinned further with Artisan Thinner than with water in lower layers. In addition Artisan thinned with Thinner feels slightly better on the brush than Artisan thinned with water. Whether water or Thinner have been used, it will be possible to clean the brushes with water.

13. Can Artisan be used on card or paper?

It is not advisable to apply Artisan (or any other type of oil colour) onto paper that has not been primed.  It would be better to apply at least one coat of our Acrylic Gesso Primer

This will give the correct surface absorbency, ensuring that none of the binder will be absorbed into the paper. Artisan applied to primed paper can be varnished.  However, it is impossible to completely remove our artists' varnishes from either paper or primer. Therefore it would be best to protect work on paper behind glass, ensuring that the glass does not touch the surface of the painting.

14. Which Artisan colours would make the best primary colours?

Lemon Yellow, Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) & Permanent Rose. For good colour mixing of it is best to stick to transparent colours. For a 6 colour system Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Hue, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Permanent Rose and Cadmium Red Hue is recommended.

15. What are the characteristics of the different Artisan whites? 

White is the most popular colour.  Adding white to any other colour produces ‘tints'.  The two whites in the Artisan range offer different working characteristics.  Titanium White is the most popular modern white.  It is the whitest, most opaque white and gives excellent covering power.  Zinc White (Mixing White) is the most transparent white, making it ideal for stronger tints and glazing.  Artisan whites are ground in modified safflower oil to produce the whitest whites.

Extensive Underpainting/ Priming with White - Artisan whites are not recommended for these purposes because they are made with the slower drying safflower oil.  For extensive underpainting we recommend Underpainting White from Artists' Oil Colour.  Remember however, water cannot be used with this product.

16. 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.

17. What are the best brushes to use with Artisan and how should they be cleaned?

A selection of good brushes provides a choice of marks and makes it easier for you to paint. There are a number of head shapes and sizes available to achieve all needs. There are a variety of shapes such Rounds, Flats, Filberts or Fans suitable for different strokes and techniques and a range of sizes from 000 – up to 22 allowing you to work in very fine detail or cover large areas quickly. Winsor & Newton developed the Artisan range of brushes to achieve the best possible results when painting with Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour. The brushes are made using a unique blend of high quality synthetic fibres which are designed specifically to have the performance and characteristics of hog bristle, yet maintain their spring and shape when in prolonged contact with water.

There is a comprehensive range of head shapes and sizes including short handled brushes in the Artisan brush range making it easier to execute a variety of techniques. Other brushes can be used with Artisan to achieve different techniques. For blending and glazing a softer haired brush may be more suitable such as a sable or sable synthetic mix. In all cases to maintain the life of the brush, wash thoroughly at the end of each painting session with soap and water.