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Winsor & Newton Oil Products

On This Page:
- Artists' Oil Colours
- Winton Oil Colour
- Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour
- Artists' Oilbar
- Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours
Other Chapters:
- We Know Colour
- Winsor & Newton Oil Products
- Technical Information - Colour
- Solvents, Oils, Mediums & Varnishes
- Brushes
- Applications, Techniques & Tips

Artists' Oil Colours

These colours are milled to the most exacting specifications, with the finest pigments and vehicles available, for artists that desire the worlds’ finest colours. The Artists’ Oil Colour range offers a balanced spectrum of 114 colours in 37ml tubes (except lead whites). Selected colours are available in 21ml, nineteen colours are available in 120ml and some whites are also supplied in 60ml tubes. (Lead whites are available in 60ml and l50ml tins in selected countries. USA: lead whites in tubes.)

Spectrum. The Artists’ Oil Colour range offers the widest spectrum of all the Winsor & Newton oil ranges. The colours are chosen according to mass tone (the colour straight from tube), undertone (the “bias” of colour when in a thin film), strength and relative opacity.

Formulation. Every Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour is individually formulated to enhance each pigment’s natural characteristics and ensure stability of the colour.

Pigment load/tinting strength. The highest level of pigmentation in combination with the broadest handling properties is used in Artists’ Oil Colour. Pigment strength provides covering power and tinting strength, ensuring that each colour can be used to its best advantage by the artist.

Viscosity/consistency. The thick, buttery consistency of Artists’ Oil Colour, along with the aroma of linseed oil, are characteristics that have been loved by oil painters for centuries. Artists’ Oil Colours are formulated with a “short” consistency, allowing the painter to retain any mark made by the brush or knife. The colour can also be thinned with a medium to produce a perfectly smooth glaze.

Surface sheen. While the Artists’ Oil Colour range is formulated to provide as even a reflective surface as possible, it’s important to note that the reflective quality of the oil film is affected by a wide variety of factors. Because each pigment requires differing volumes of oil in formulation, the surface sheen may differ from colour to colour. The addition of solvent, and the use of additive mediums will alter surface sheen, as well.

Permanence. Winsor & Newton have developed permanent alternatives for the less durable traditional colours, without compromising the handling properties of the oil colours. As a result, the permanence of the colour range as a whole has been improved beyond the dreams of past painters.

Of the 114 colours in the range, 111 are now classed as “permanent for artists’ use” (AA or A ratings from Winsor & Newton) which aids the longevity of paintings.

Drying time. The long drying time of Artists’ Oil Colour is also a key feature of oil painting. As the colour remains soft and wet for a few days, it allows the painter to make corrections from day to day.

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 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 two days]: Aureolin, Permanent Mauve [manganese], Cobalt Blues, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Umbers, Flake, Foundation and Cremnitz Whites [lead].

Medium drying [around five days]: Winsor Blues and Greens [phthalocyanines], Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Violets and Greens, Ultramarine Blues, Mars colours [synthetic iron oxides], Permanent Sap Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ochres, Cadmiums, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black.

Slow drying [more than five days]: Winsor Yellows and Orange [arylamides], Quinacridones, Alizarin Crimson.

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

Painting Whites. The eight whites in Artists’ Oil Colour ensure that artists have the widest possible array of choices, just as in every other part of the spectrum. Because of its paler colour and lessened tendency toward yellowing, most of our whites are milled with Safflower oil.

Safflower Oil Whites
Titanium White; is the most popular modern white. It is the whitest, most opaque white, softer than Flake White No. 1.

*Flake White No. 1; The traditional lead white in oil colour, Flake White is excellent for painting as a result of its flexibility, durability and speed of drying. The inclusion of zinc pigment improves its consistency. This is the stiffest white in the range.

*Flake White No. 2; A variation of Flake White No. 1, with a more fluid consistency.

Zinc White; is the least opaque white, making it ideal for tints and glazing. It also has the shortest consistency.

*Cremnitz White; also made from lead. The absence of zinc gives a stringy consistency. Some artists may prefer a pure lead colour in principle.

Iridescent White; A mica based pigment which makes a pearlescent white. It is effective when mixed with transparent colours.

A note about whites used for underpainting and priming: 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 in the layers applied above. Hence for priming and underpainting, we recommend the following Linseed Oil Whites:

Underpainting White; titanium pigment ground in linseed oil which is recommended for underpainting or extensive layering with white.

*Foundation White; lead pigment ground in linseed oil which is recommended for underpainting or extensive layering with a lead white. Both Underpainting and Foundation White may be used throughout the painting if so wished.

*Lead whites in tins; for reasons of toxicity these colours are available only in tins in the EU.

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Winton Oil Colour

Winton Oil Colour is a traditional range of colours, made from moderately priced pigments, and formulated for amateur artists or more accomplished painters requiring large volumes of colour at an economical price.

Spectrum. Winton Oil Colours have been made from pigments which offer as broad a palette as possible at an economical price. The spectrum has been selected to ensure that the largest number of colours can be mixed from the range. In addition, the Winton spectrum relates specifically to Artists’ Oil Colours, providing clean colour mixing and helping artists upgrade to the superior range of Artists’ Oils when ready.

Formulation. As with Artists’ Oil Colour, every colour in the Winton range is individually formulated to take advantage of the natural characteristics of each pigment and to ensure stability of the colour.

Pigment load/tinting strength. A high level of pigmentation provides good covering power and tinting strength. While it can’t match the superior pigment load of Artists’ Oil Colours, the Winton range is stronger than many other artists’ quality ranges. The economical cost has been achieved through the use of moderately priced pigments rather than through lessening the pigment load to an unacceptable level. Winsor & Newton formulation, manufacture and quality control ensure a product of absolute excellence.

Viscosity/consistency. The Winton range has a more uniform consistency than Artists’ and is a slightly stiffer product. It offers excellent retention of brush and palette knife strokes.

Surface sheen. As with the Artists’Oil Colour range, the surface sheen of Winton is largely due to the pigment used. The level of gloss will therefore vary.

Permanence. Wherever possible, the most permanent pigments have been selected for use with the Winton range. The Winsor & Newton formulation and manufacture ensure that the product will remain stable within the tube as well as offer the most permanent paint film possible (when applied appropriately). To be sure of the permanence of any colour, please refer to the ratings on the colour chart or tube labels.

Drying time. 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 the colours to optimise 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 two days]: Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Umbers, Flake White [lead].

Medium drying [around five days]: Phthalo Blue and Viridian Hue [phthalocyanines], Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blues, Synthetic iron oxides, Ochres, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black.

Slow drying [more than five days]: 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 continuous darkness or with high humidity.

Painting Whites. 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; The traditional lead white in oil colour, Flake White is excellent for painting as a result of its flexibility, durability and speed of drying. The inclusion of zinc pigment improves its consistency.

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.

Winton whites are ground in safflower oil, which produces the whitest whites. These colours are not recommended for extensive underpainting or priming. The slow drying nature of the oil may cause subsequent layers to crack. Artists’ Oil Colour Underpainting White or Foundation White are recommended for underpainting or extensive modelling with white. (NB. Flake White is toxic. Please ask your retailer for availability and read the information supplied with the product.)

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Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour

There are excellent advantages that come with Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour. Faster drying means that the traditional oil techniques of both impasto and glazing can be done in considerably less time than when working in traditional oils. The colours are ideal for working outdoors, and greater transparency means increased depth and clarity for glazes. Consistent drying times across the range removes the usual restrictions thatcome with conventional oils, making it easier to overpaint, regardless of the colour upon the surface.

Spectrum. The Griffin Alkyd range includes 50 colours (51 in USA), each of which has been selected for its colour strength and relative opacity. The spectrum is designed to ensure that the largest number of colours may be mixed from the range.

Formulation. As with all Winsor & Newton colour products, every colour in the Griffin Alkyd range is individually formulated to take advantage of the natural characteristics of each pigment and to ensure stability of the colour.

Pigment load/tinting strength. Because alkyd resin has physical properties that differ slightly from those of traditional oils, the pigment load is somewhat different, as well. Experienced painters will notice slightly greater transparency compared to the Artists’ Oil range. The colour has been formulated to offer the greatest degree of tinting strength possible, and to take full advantage of the true characteristics of each pigment.

Transparency. Not all colours in the Griffin Alkyd range are transparent. Pigments vary in their transparency by nature, and Griffin colours are marked as “transparent or semi-transparent,” or “opaque or semi-opaque” on the colour chart. Remember that the level of transparency of a colour is relative to other colours.

Viscosity/consistency. Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour offers a slightly more fluid consistency than traditional oils.

Drying time. All colours in the Griffin Alkyd range remain workable on the palette for 4 to 8 hours, and touch dry on the canvas in 18 to 24 hours. Thorough drying prior to varnishing is essential, and should be a minimum of one month in thin films of colour. Longer periods are necessary for thicker films.

Surface sheen. Alkyd colours dry to a more even reflective surface than traditional oils.

Permanence. The highest quality raw materials and superior manufacturing standards are employed in formulating the Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil range. The result is that, provided that the artist uses sound painting techniques, oils and alkyds should share similar life spans.

Using with traditional oil colour, including underpainting & glazing. Griffin Alkyd colours can be either mixed or used underneath oil colour. Because the alkyd film is slightly less flexible and faster drying than traditional oil, applying Griffin alkyd films over oil colour or over Oilbar layers is not recommended. Griffin colours are particularly popular for making a quick underpainting, followed by Artists’ or Winton Oil Colour for overpainting. Griffin Alkyd is not intermixable with acrylics.

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Artists' Oilbar

Oilbar represents the exciting possibility of drawing directly on the canvas with wet colour. The high level of pigmentation provides strength and depth of colour, superior in every way to oil pastels or crayons. Oilbar also has the physical advantage of producing a dry film, as opposed to oil pastels, whose binder cannot be fixed, leaving colours to smudge or pick up extra dirt. Working with Oilbar is expressive and immediate; nothing comes between the artist and the surface. Not even a brush.

Spectrum. The 35 colours, including a colourless blender, are an excellent spectrum for using Oilbar by itself or in combination with other oil colours.

Formulation. The Oilbar range is formulated with pigment, linseed oil, or safflower oil with a blend of specially selected waxes. As with all Winsor & Newton colour products, every colour in the Oilbar range is individually formulated to take advantage of the natural characteristics of each pigment and to ensure stability of the colour.

Viscosity/consistency. Artists’ Oilbar has a consistency all its own, making for truly unique, dynamic applications. When an oil medium is added, Oilbar handles comparably to a tube oil colour.

Surface sheen. As each pigment requires differing volumes of oil in formulation, the surface sheen of Oilbar may differ slightly from colour to colour. The addition of solvent, as well as the use of additive mediums will alter surface sheen, as well.

Permanence. Artists’ Oilbar has the same ratings as other Winsor & Newton artists’ quality ranges. AA and A rated colours are recommended as permanent for artists’ use. Please refer to the permanence ratings provided on the printed colour chart and the tube labels.

Drying time. Once on canvas, the colours will become touch dry in 2 to 7 days. Thorough drying prior to any varnishing is essential, and should be a minimum of six months in thin films of colour. Longer periods are necessary for thicker films.

Colourless Oilbar. The Colourless Oilbar is the equivalent of linseed oil in tube colour, and is used mostly for blending and glazing colours directly on the canvas. It serves as a medium in solid form.

Using with traditional oil colour. Oilbar can be used with both traditional oil colour and Griffin Fast Drying Oil Colour. Due to the wax content, thick Oilbar films are not recommended underneath thin oil films. Doing so would contravene the “fat over lean” rule. Oilbar is also compatible with all Winsor & Newton oil mediums.

Protection of finished work. Finished artwork made with Oilbar requires protection from dirt and grime. Ideally, pictures created with Oilbar should be framed behind glass, as the wax content can affect varnishing.

Monoprinting. There are a wide variety of applications for which Oilbar is well suited, and the product has proven to be particularly popular with printmakers for monoprinting. Oilbar can be used directly on a glass plate, with or without medium, for direct transfer to the paper.

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Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours

Artisan is a genuine oil colour, made from linseed and safflower oils that have been modified to create a stable, workable emulsion when water is added. With Artisan, the artist can thin the colour and clean up with water rather than solvents such as turpentine or white spirit (mineral spirits). The colour has been formulated to appear and work just like conventional oil colour. The depth of colour, buttery consistency, lightfastness, opacity/transparency, performance and drying times are all comparable to conventional oils, allowing the artist to cultivate all of the fundamental qualities that come with working with conventional oils.

Artisan is an oil colour, and should not be thought of otherwise. The modified linseed and safflower oils accept water as a solvent. With that exception, the modified oil vehicles function like a conventional oil, accepting water as a diluent in much the same way as linseed oil accepts white (mineral) spirit, and then forming a stable film through oxidation.

Spectrum. The Artisan range offers a balanced spectrum of 40 colours, each of which has been selected for its colour strength and relative opacity. The spectrum is designed to ensure that the largest number of colours may be mixed from the range.

Formulation, and the use of water. There is no water within the formulation of Artisan. The linseed and safflower oil vehicles have been modified to allow the colour to accept water, creating a stable emulsion, while retaining the working and optical characteristics of conventional oil colour. The range has also been formulated with a high proportion of single pigments for brilliance of colour and clean colour mixing. And the most suitable oils and methods for dispersion have been selected to bring out the individual characteristics, from opacity to natural transparency, of each pigment in the Artisan range.

Pigment load/tinting strength. A wide variety of pigments are used in Artisan to provide all the characteristics expected from a Winsor & Newton colour. Including high pigment strength, to ensure covering power and tinting strength.

Viscosity/consistency. Straight from the tube, Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours have a thick, stiff consistency, similar to conventional oils, making it suitable for impasto applications. The colour offers excellent retention of brush and knife strokes. The consistency of Artisan can be easily adjusted through the addition of Artisan mediums, each of which are formulated to allow the artist to adjust the flow and working characteristics of the colour, while still allowing for easy mixability and clean-up with water.

Drying time. When Artisan is thinned with water, the water evaporates from the paint film fairly rapidly, leaving behind a conventional oil film 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 two days]: Prussian Blue, Umbers

Medium drying [around five days]: Cadmium Hues, Phthalo Blue (red shade) and Phthalo Greens, Siennas, French Ultramarine, Synthetic iron oxides, Ochres, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black.

Slow drying [more than five days]: Cadmiums, Permanent Rose [quinacridone], Permanent Alizarin Crimson. As with all oil paintings, to avoid yellowing of the oil, paintings should not be allowed to dry in continuous darkness or with high humidity.

Surface sheen. The reflective quality of the Artisan film is affected by a wide variety of factors. Because each pigment requires differing volumes of oil in formulation, the surface sheen may differ slightly from colour to colour. The addition of water as a solvent, as well as the use of additive mediums will alter surface sheen as well.

Permanence. Recent developments in pigment chemistry have led to continued improvements in the lightfastness of artists’ colours. Winsor & Newton have taken full advantage of these improvements in the formulation of the Artisan range. All Artisan colours are rated AA or A, and are recommended as permanent for artists’ use. Permanence is discussed more fully in the technical section. (pages 57-59)

Using with traditional oil colour. Artisan colours and mediums can be mixed with conventional oil colours and mediums. As more conventional colour is added, however, the resulting mixture will be progressively less water mixable. Maintaining rules like “fat over lean” also become more difficult when mixing traditional oils with Artisan. For these reasons, we recommend using Artisan colour and mediums exclusively in order to benefit from the use of water instead of solvents.

Using with water mixable mediums. Artisan mediums allow you to alter the characteristics and working properties of your tube colour, enabling you to enjoy all the traditional techniques that come with oils. The mediums specifically formulated for use with Artisan Water Mixable Oils include: Linseed Oil, Stand Oil, Painting Medium, Fast Drying Medium and Impasto Medium.

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

Use with water as a solvent. As with any oil colour, the addition of too much solvent can result in an underbound paint film. The same is true when using water with the Artisan range. For this reason, we strongly recommend that the working characteristics of the colour be adjusted through the use of the appropriate medium in addition to water. When adding water, do so gradually, a little bit at a time, while mixing continuously with a brush or palette knife. Doing so will allow the water and oil emulsion to form evenly.

The use of water as a solvent will also alter the refractive quality of the colour, resulting in a slight value shift to a lighter tint as the water is added. As water evaporates from the mix, there is a subsequent reversion back to the original colour.

Suitable varnishes. Any varnish suitable for conventional oils will be suitable for use with Artisan. Appropriate varnishes will protect your painting from atmospheric dust and dirt, as well as be fully removable, enabling the picture to be cleaned if and when necessary. Varnishes should not be used as mediums for adding to the colour. Artisan paintings should not be varnished until thoroughly dry (at least six months). Winsor & Newton makes a complete range of varnishes suitable for use with oil colour.

Using synthetic or natural hair brushes. During long painting sessions, natural hog bristle brushes may soften from prolonged contact with water. The Artisan brush range is made from synthetic filaments specifically for use with Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour. The stiff filament mimics natural bristle very closely and will not soften in water. Other synthetic brushes, for example, the long handled Winsor & Newton Galeria, (and University and Monarch in the USA) will maintain their rigidity, and can be used as well.

As a guideline, if using tube colour or impasto techniques (thickly applied), bristle or Artisan brushes are most suitable. For subtle blending, glazing and fine detail, a soft hair brush, such as Winsor & Newton Cirrus or Sceptre Gold, is recommended.

Studio clean up. Artisan does not require any solvents for cleaning up after painting. After use, just wipe excess oil colour from the brush, and use soap and water to clean. There is no need to use turpentine or white (mineral) spirits. To keep your brushes in good condition, it is advisable to clean up on the day of your painting session.

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