More in This Section:
- Artists' Oils
- Accessories
- Composition and Permanence

Surfaces and Primers

Stretched, primed canvas is the traditional support for oil colour. Canvas boards are also popular. Our Winsor Canvas, Winsor Linen or Winsor Board (not available in the USA) are recommended for the artist wanting to exploit a variety of techniques and ensure long term stability. Paper can also be used, provided it is sized and primed correctly.

Heavyweight Winsor & Newton Water Colour Paper primed thinly with Acrylic Gesso Primer is ideal.


Solvents are used to dilute colours and to clean brushes and equipment. English Distilled Turpentine makes a viscous mixture which evaporates slowly. It is the most hazardous and strongest smelling solvent, and can deteriorate on storage. Artists’ White [or mineral] Spirit (not available in the USA) makes a watery mixture which evaporates quickly and is less hazardous. It does not deteriorate on storage. Sansodor™ makes a viscous mixture, which evaporates slowly, and is the least hazardous. It does not deteriorate on storage, has a minimal odour and can be travelled with safely.

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Oils and Mediums

Oils and mediums alter the handling characteristics of the colour and help to maintain the flexibility of the finished painting (fat over lean) Oils are the traditional, slower drying choice whilst alkyd based mediums, such as Liquin, are favoured due to their speeding the drying time of the painting.

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Varnishes are used to protect finished paintings. For fine art usage, picture varnishes should be removable so that the painting can be cleaned in the future. Our varnishes are labelled “gloss” or “matt” and vary according to the different resins used.

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To thickly apply colour or impasto, bristle brushes are most common. Winsor & Newton have three ranges, Artists’ Hog, Winton™ and Azanta™. The stiff nature of the bristle and its natural split tips, (called ‘flags’), result in brushes which wear well and carry considerable quantities of colour. To blend and glaze, a soft hairbrush is recommended such as Cirrus™ sables or Sceptre Gold II™ which are a blend of natural and synthetic fibres.


Mahogany palettes are the traditional palette for oil colour. However, because canvases are primarily white, white melamine palettes are often preferred by modern painters together with expendable paper palettes which can be disposed of at the end of each painting session.