Oil Mediums

Artists' colours are the basic ingredients for the painter. However, the range of oils, mediums, varnishes, solvents and primers are additional ingredients from which an infinite variety of adjustments can be made to the colour, all to suit the individual creative  vision of the artist.


Solvents are used to dilute colour, as well as for cleaning brushes and palettes after a painting session. Solvents made for artists are intended to be fully volatile, meaning that upon evaporation from the paint mixture, they leave no residual matter behind.

Hardware/DIY grade solvents, though lower in cost, are not refined to the degree required for artists, and will often leave a tacky painting surface where used, and a paint film that won't fully dry. We offer a range of solvents to suit your different needs.

Aritsts' White Spirit
A volatile, flammable diluent (thinner) for oil colours and the cleaning of brushes. Whilst it has a characteristic odour, this is less pronounced than Turpentine. This makes a watery mixture, evaporates quickly, is less hazardous than Distilled Turpentine, less costly and does not deteriorate on storage.

Distilled Turpentine
All solvents vary in strength and their capacity to 'loosen up' the body of the colour. The artists' grade solvent with the greatest power is Distilled Turpentine, the only artists' grade solvent capable of easily dissolving Dammar resin. Turpentine makes a viscous mixture, evaporates slowly, is the most hazardous and strongest smelling solvent commonly used by artists.

Sansodor (Low Odour Solvent)
Sansodor makes a viscous mixture, evaporates slowly, is the least hazardous, costs approximately the same as turpentine, does not deteriorate on storage and has minimal odour. This is well suited to artists who prefer to avoid exposure to turpentine.

Artists' Picture Cleaner
Not strictly a solvent, Artists' Picture Cleaner is a liquid which is designed for the cleaning of varnished paintings and is an excellent product for this purpose. It works by dissolving linseed oil oxidation and will remove surface dirt and the products of oxidation in the old varnish. It contains an emulsified mixture of Copaiba balsam, dipentene and pine oil with ammonia.

You will find that the liquid settles out in two layers so you will need to shake well before use and thinning is not recommended.

Unvarnished paintings may also be treated with Artists' Picture Cleaner but great care is necessary and the process should be stopped immediately if any colour seems to be coming off the painting.

Artists' Picture Cleaner can effect an unbelievable improvement on paintings both simply and inexpensively but if you are in any doubt about the condition of the original painting or if the varnish is cracked, let the necessary work be done by an expert.

 Drying Oils

Drying and semi-drying oils are the vegetable oils used to make oil colour, namely linseed, poppy and safflower.

The different methods of processing oils produces products with different drying rates, consistencies and colour.

Drying oils are used to modify the consistency and drying time of colour in much the same way as prepared mediums.

There are a range of drying oils to suit your different needs:

Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil
A slightly yellow oil, which is extracted without the use of heat. This can be added to colour to reduce the consistency, improve flow, and increase gloss and transparency whilst reducing brush marks. Thin with Turpentine or Artist’s White Spirit.

This oil dries slightly quicker than refined linseed oil and may have better flow with some colours.

Thickened Linseed Oil
A pale refined oil of syrupy consistency. This speeds the drying time, improves flow and gloss and increases the durability of the film.

This oil behaves like Linseed Stand Oil but is dries quicker and darker.

Drying Linseed Oil
This is an oil of darker colour than Refined Linseed Oil, which promotes the fastest drying rate of all the oils whilst increasing gloss.

Refined Linseed Oil
The most popular oil offers many of the same qualities as Cold Pressed Linseed Oil, but is slower drying. It is an alkali-refined oil of pale colour that reduces oil colour consistency and increases gloss and transparency.

Linseed Stand Oil
A pale viscous oil that can be mixed with Turpentine or White (Mineral) Spirit to improve the flow and levelling of oil colour. Retards drying but imparts a tough, elastic finish. Use in conjunction with Turpentine or Artists’ White Spirit to improve colour flow. It is well suited for glazing and for fine detail and is resistant to yellowing while increasing the durability of the film. It slows drying and is the best oil to choose as an additive medium.

Drying Poppy Oil
A drying oil used to increase the drying rate. Made from poppy seeds, it is the palest of the oils and is resistant to yellowing which makes it well suited for whites and pale colours.



Mediums are additives which alter or enhance the characteristics of the colour. They are used to change the rate of drying, increase gloss, improve flow, provide texture etc. Mediums are based on the binders used in milling the colours: linseed oil, alkyd resin and modified oils for water mixable oils.

Traditional oil based mediums are made from a combination of oil and solvents, while the alkyd based mediums combine synthetic alkyd resins and solvents. Because alkyd resin functions in much the same way as linseed oil, alkyd mediums may be added to conventional oils. Alkyd resin mediums offer dramatic advantages by accelerating the speed of drying, as well as adding a unique, natural translucency. We offer a range of mediums to suit your different needs.

All mediums should be used in moderation, they are intended only as an additive to the colour. In addition, you should avoid adding multiple mediums to the colour. The most stable film is likely to contain a single medium.

Artists' Painting Medium
This is a prepared medium that thins the colour consistency, improves flow and wetting, slows drying, increases the durability of the film and is resistant to yellowing. Artists' Painting Medium is well suited for 'oiling out'.

Liquin Original
This reliable favourite (formerly known as just "Liquin") continues to be our most popular liquid alkyd medium. A general purpose low gloss medium which improves flow and transparency. It mixes easily with the brush or knife and smooths brushwork. Liquin Original also suits a textured oil technique.

Liquin Original will approximately half the drying time of oil colour, dependant on the proportions added.  Therefore, depending on the climate, colours used, and film weight, the layer will be touch dry in anything between 1-5 days.

It is not advised to use Liquin as a varnish or final coat.  To find out more, see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Liquin Impasto Medium
A semi-gloss, quick drying, non-yellowing impasto medium.  It retains crisp textures and brush strokes without any visible levelling and extends tube colour and provides bulk. It also allows more blending time.

When dry, it forms a flexible, tough film that can be varnished in the normal way. Liquin Impasto and Liquin Oleopasto are the only mediums that safely thicken oil colour. For heavier brush work or palette knife

It is not advised to use Liquin as a varnish or final coat.  To find out more, see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Liquin Fine Detail Medium
The most fluid of the Liquin family of products, this gloss medium is ideal for fine detailed work. It is also perfect for producing a smooth surface picture or in smoothly blended areas where you do not want brush marks. 

Liquin Fine Detail is the modern alternative to the traditional copal mediums that were based on natural resins and offered fast drying properties to the artist. It will approximately half the drying time of oil colour, dependant on the proportions added.  Therefore, depending on the climate, colours used, and film weight, the layer will be touch dry in anything between 1-5 days.

It is not advised to use Liquin as a varnish or final coat.  To find out more, see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Liquin Light Gel Medium
This Liquin formulation offers a slight gel that breaks down on brushing (thixotropic) and flows out to give a non-drip effect when mixed with colour. It is ideal for glazing. It dries to a gloss film that has an increased resistance to yellowing.

This product offers all the handling properties traditionally seen with the historic Meglip mediums but without the tendencies to crack and yellow which are normally associated with mastic mediums.

Choosing Liquin Light Gel is like selecting non drip gloss paint for decorating in favour of liquid gloss (Liquin Fine Detail). It provides looser handling.

It is not advised to use Liquin as a varnish or final coat.  To find out more, see our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Liquin Oleopasto Medium
A semi-matt, quick drying, non-yellowing impasto medium. It has a soft gel consistency with some brush drag, levels crisp brush marks, extends tube colour and provides bulk.  Allows rapid overpainting.

This stiff, translucent gel is specifically for impasto and texture work. It dries to a crack-resistant and virtually non-yellowing film, it retains knife and brush strokes and will not level out.

It is not advised to use Liquin as a varnish or final coat.



Varnishes are final coatings which protect finished pictures from the build up of dirt and grease. Oil paintings must be thoroughly dry (at least 6 -12 months) before varnishing. We offer a range of each of these varnishes to suit your different needs.

For fine art usage picture varnishes should be removable so that paintings can be cleaned in the future. Our varnishes are labelled ‘gloss' or ‘matt', it should be noted that different resins used in the varnishes impart varying degrees of gloss.

Japan Gold Size
A dark, thin liquid, which acts as a quick drying adhesive for use when gilding. Can also be used as a non removable exterior varnish.

Artists' Gloss Varnish
A modern general purpose high gloss varnish. It is a clear liquid which dries to a non-yellowing glossy film. It may be mixed with Artists’ Original Matt Varnish to adjust degree of gloss.

Artists' Matt Varnish
A superior quality artists’ matt varnish which represents the very latest in varnish chemistry. It is water white and remains readily removable for over 100 years with White Spirit or Turpentine. Dries quickly to a non-yellowing film, does not bloom or crack.

Winsor & Newton Artists Satin Varnish
A high quality UV resistant artists' satin varnish that maintains painting for longer. Sealing the oil paint film provides resistance to dirt and grease as well as evens out the surface sheen.

Artists' Retouching Varnish
A clear liquid varnish, which dries to a non-yellowing, glossy film. Gives temporary protection to recently completed oil paintings.

Dammar Varnish
A pale yellow varnish which dries quickly to a high gloss for use on oil and alkyd paintings. Traditionally also used on prints and maps. It tends to darken with aging. It is the traditional high-gloss varnish.

See our range of Oil Mediums