Artists' Oils

On This Page:
- Range Information
- Sizes Available
- Formulation
- Pigment Loading/Tinting Strength
- Covering Power
- Pigment Purity
- Single Pigments
- Widest Spectrum
- Colour Series
- Transparency & Opacity
- Viscosity/Consistency
- Surface Sheen
- Permanence
- Drying Times
- Whites in the Range
- Mixing Colours
- Discontinued Colours
More in This Section:
- Artists' Oils
- Accessories
- Composition and Permanence

Range Information

Artists' Oil Colour is unmatched for its purity, quality and reliability - a success which is reflected in its world-wide reputation amongst professional artists. It has 119 colours in the range, offering the widest spectrum of all the Winsor & Newton oil ranges.

Sizes Available

The full range of 119 colours are available in 37ml tubes. 80 colours are available in 21ml tubes, 34 colours are available in 200ml tubes and a selection of 19 colours are available in 120ml tubes. Some whites are also available in 60ml tubes. 


Every Winsor & Newton Artists' Oil Colour is individually formulated to enhance each pigment's natural characteristics and ensure stability of colour. By exercising maximum quality control throughout all stages of manufacture, selecting the most suitable drying oils and method of pigment dispersion, the unique individual properties of each colour are preserved.

Combined with over 170 years of manufacturing and quality control expertise, the formulation of Artist's Oil Colour ensures the best raw materials are made into the World's Finest Colours.


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Pigment Loading/Tinting Strength

Artists' Oil Colour uses the highest level of pigmentation consistent with the broadest handling properties. The quantity of pigment used provides covering power and tinting strength; leading to the saying "artists' quality goes further".

Winsor Blue (Green Shade) - high tinting strength, Terre Verte - low tinting strength

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Covering Power

Covering Power not only comes from pigment strength, but also from the greater thickness of colour, which results from the stiff consistency associated with Artists' Oil Colour. Covering power is particularly linked to the most opaque colours like Titanium White and the Cadmiums.

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Pigment Purity

Like all raw materials, pigments are available in various grades. We use only the purest of pigments ensuring the cleanest, brightest colours, which in turn produce the best colour mixtures.

Assessing pigment in the factory

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Single Pigments

Our quality standards include the use of single pigments wherever possible to create individual colours. Combined with strength of colour, single pigments provide a wide colour range in themselves and offer cleaner, brighter mixtures with an infinite range of hues. This is particularly important for greens, violets and oranges. Single pigment 'secondaries' considerably broaden the artists' available spectrum. There are 80 single pigment colours in the range.

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Widest Spectrum

We are famous for providing the widest spectrum of colours within our ranges. The colours are selected according to mass tone [colour from tube], undertone [bias of colour when in a thin film], strength and relative opacity. This provides the largest number of colour positions and an infinite number of colour mixtures. A total of 100 different pigments are used to produce 119 colours.

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Colour Series

As the cost of the pigments used varies, so does the price charged for the colour. Therefore we have grouped colours together in 'series'. The higher the series number, the higher the price. You can find the series number both on the colour chart and on the tube.

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Transparancy & Opacity

Pigments vary in their transparency by nature. On the Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour chart and individual colour pages of this site, the transparent colours are marked with  or T, the semi-transparent colours are marked  or ST. The relatively semiopaque colours are marked with  or SO and the opaque colours are marked with  or O.

Remember that the level of transparency of a colour is relative to other colours. Transparent colours are used for glazing and tinting, providing optical colour mixtures and depth of colour to the painting surface. Opaque colours cover well, give flat areas of colour and obscure/mask the underlayers of the painting.

Artists' Oil Colour is formulated to reflect the characteristics of each of the various pigments, ensuring that synthetic organics such as Phthalocyanines and Quinacridones [ie. "Winsor" or "Permanent colours"] deliver maximum transparency, whilst Cadmiums and Earth colours offer excellent opacity.

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The buttery consistency of Artists' Oil Colour, together with the smell of linseed oil, are the two characteristics most admired by oil painters. These qualities are unbeaten by other media. The stiff consistency of Winsor & Newton colours can retain brush or palette knife marks or it can be thinned to the very finest of glazes.

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Surface Sheen

While Artists' Oil Colour 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 as the ground used.

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Since 1832 we have been developing 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 119 colours in the range, 119 are now classed as 'permanent for artists' use' [AA or A ratings from Winsor & Newton] which aids in the longevity of paintings. Although Alizarin Crimson is only given a "B" rating ( moderately durable), it has been part of Artists' Oil Colour for over 130 years and is still considered a key colour by many contemporary artists.

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Drying Times

The long drying time of Artists' Oil Colour is also a key feature of oil painting. The colour remains soft and wet for a few days and therefore allows corrections to be made from day to day.

All colours will become touch dry in thin films in 2-12 days. The different reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil results in the different dry rates. Each colour is individually formulated to optimise its drying rate, which helps 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]:
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 Violet and Greens, Ultramarine Blues, Mars colours [synthetic iron oxides], Sap Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ochres, Cadmiums, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black, Pyrrols, Bismuth Yellow, Perylenes.

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

Liquin Original is the perfect medium to speed the drying time of oil colour. It will speed the drying by approximately 50%.

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Whites in the Range

The nine whites in Artists' Oil Colour ensure that artists have the widest possible array of choices, 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 Whites
The following whites are made with Safflower oil:

Titanium White
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 Hue
A titanium based formulation which avoids the hazardous lead based Flake White No.1. It has a lower tinting strength than Titanium White to match Flake White and a similar drying rate to the original.

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

Transparent White
A titanium based white with extremely low tinting strength, providing the palest white glazes.

*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 mixed with transparent colours.

*Lead white in tins: For reasons of toxicity these colours are only available in tins in the EU.

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 the layers applied above.

Linseed Oil Whites
For underpainting, we recommend the following:

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.

*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 White in tins: For reasons of toxicity these colours are available only in tins in the EU.

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Mixing Colours

The three primary colours in the Artists' Oil Colour range are Transparent Yellow, Winsor Blue [Red Shade] and Permanent Rose. These colours are the best selection when only three colours are used. We recommend Winsor Lemon, Winsor Yellow, French Ultramarine, Winsor Blue [Green Shade], Permanent Rose and Cadmium Red when using a six colour mixing system.

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Discontinued Colours


Colour Code Colour Name Reason for discontinuation Nearest Equivalent in Range
016 Aureolin Replaced by more lightfast, transparent stronger pigment. Indian Yellow Deep
063 Brown Madder Alizarin Alizarin pigment no longer used. Brown Madder
080 Cadmium Green Can be mixed by the artist. Cadmium Lemon + Viridian
127 Carmine Replaced by lightfast pigment. Permanent Carmine
185 Cobalt Green Deep Pigment now unavailable. Cobalt Chromite Green
193 Cobalt Violet Dark Can be mixed by the artist. Cobalt Violet + Winsor Violet
247 Flake White No. 2 Can be mixed by the artist. Flake White No. 1 + Linseed Oil
388 Mars Brown Can be mixed by the artist. Gold Ochre +Venetian Red + Mars Black
390 Mars Orange Close to Terra Rosa. Terra Rosa
394 Mars Violet Close to Indian Red. Indian Red
396 Mars Yellow Very close to Glod Ochre. Gold Ochre
503 Permanent Sap Green Replaced by a cheaper, more lightfast formulation. Sap Green
546 Purple Madder Alizarin Alizarin pigment no longer used. Purple Madder
585 Rose Madder Deep Can be mixed by the artist. Rose Madder Genuine + Alizarin Crimson
683 Vermilion Hue Can be mixed by the artist. Cadmium Red + Cadmium Red Deep + Titanium White

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 Click here to see our range of Artists' Oils