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Oil Paint Tips 101: What Oils Can You Use for Oil Painting?

Oil Paint Tips 101: What Oils Can You Use for Oil Painting?

For people who are pursuing oil painting, it can be pretty helpful to know what oils can you use for oil painting. In many instances, oil painting can be a pricey hobby. For this reason, people have a tendency to want to know as much about it as they can.

If you want to actively pursue oil painting, learning different techniques and ways to save money can be helpful.

A common decision that people make when it comes to oil painting is trying to determine the best possible oil for oil paints.

Whether you are buying oil paints or making your own, different oil paints have different bases.

While many people assume it is a specific kind of oil that makes paints, that isn’t true.

There are actually several different oils that can be used to create different paints.

The oil base can determine different factors about the paint and how it operates.

It is possible for different oil bases to accommodate different colors, drying times, and other factors.

Understanding your needs can help you to make more educated purchasing decisions.

If you’re interested in more tips about oil painting, check out my other related articles:

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painting oil - science of oil paintingThe Science Behind Oil Painting

At its core, oil paint is quite literally oil and pigment.

These two components work together to give you a spreadable color that can be used to make masterpieces.

The oil works alongside the pigment to provide texture and suspend it for long lasting art.

Depending on how much oil or pigment you use the texture and color of these paints can change drastically.

Unlike acrylic paints, oil paints rely on a more simple base for their effects.

However, there are also common additives that can be used to alter oil paintings.

People can add turpentine or varnish in order to alter the actual presentation and function of the oil paintings.

At their simplest forms, oil paints are really just a complex way to suspend color for easy use.

painting oil - linseed walnut coconutWhat What Oils Can You Use for Oil Painting?

Linseed Oil

— This oil base is easily the most common oil type that people use to make oil paints.

It is known for its varying forms and its supreme drying effects.

Linseed oil comes in various forms including cold-pressed and stand oil.

The different versions of this unique oil types are known for changing color and consistency in drastic ways.

For people favoring one style of painting over another, it’s best to do your research.

Since Linseed oil can be pricey, it’s best to go in prepared before you spend the money.

Walnut Oil

— This variation of oil is helpful for people who want a little more control when painting.

It is known for its ability to make paint more smooth, making it ideal for long strokes and blending.

It is one of the more expensive styles of oil that are available, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the price.

For people who enjoy smooth and creamy oil paints, walnut oil makes for an excellent base.

You can enjoy an even consistency that won’t build up and dries easily.

If it goes well, you might decide you want to start making your very own walnut oil.

Poppy Oil

— Many people are surprised to learn that poppy oil can also be used as an oil paint base.

This oil can be used for making smooth paintings that will be sure to flow easily.

Since this oil is known for being thin and smooth, it can be intimidating for new painters.

You will need to exercise more control with this oil to avoid ending up with a mess.

In the event that you do use it, understand that it can take longer to dry.

Using this oil, you will want to make sure that your paintings remain flat while drying.

Safflower Oil

— This oil is generally considered the second most popular oil base.

Safflower oil is pale in color and works well with some colors more than others.

It is a smooth oil that is less thick than linseed oil in most cases, but very useful.

An oil like this is perfect for a balance between smooth and rough textures, making it versatile.

For the average painter, safflower oil is a great addition to the oil painting process.

If you are looking to experiment with new oils, consider how this can work for your paint creation process.

Coconut Oil for Oil Painting

— If you ever asked yourself, “can i use coconut oil for oil painting?” then you’re in luck!

Many find this oil being touted for every kind of use.

It can be used as a base for oil paint in some key conditions, but not for everyday use.

This oil is separate from more common oils because it is not what is considered a drying oil.

Coconut oil will stay wet for extensive periods of time.

Some artists use this kind of base for experimental painting on unique surfaces.

It can be easily manipulated which can result in some very cool effects.

This is also a favored medium for experimenting because it is cheap and non-toxic.

However, for a traditional oil painting it will not work.

If you use coconut oil for oil painting as a base, your painting will stay wet, smear, and collect debris.

painting oil - linseed oilWhat Type of Oil Paint Is the Most Popular?

Linseed Oil

There are plenty of popular oil paint bases that people flock to.

At the top of the list, linseed takes the lead.

This is partially because it is a great base and partially because it comes in options.

The variations in linseed oil makes it possible for painters to get different effects depending on the type.

When you consider how many people use the different types, it can add up.

This makes people flock to linseed oil, but you want to consider the fact that they are multiple products.

Within the linseed oil market, there are several different types.

The most basic type of linseed oil is the standard refined version.

This form of linseed oil is known for providing a glossy finish and drying quickly.

Many people use this form to create layered paintings.

Since drying is a crucial part of successfully layering paint, this version gets a lot of attention.

Stand Oil

Stand oil is another variation of linseed oil that involves super heating the oil for differing effects.

The byproduct ends up being a thicker version of traditional linseed oil.

It can make the color change and impacts the overall consistency.

The fact that this version is thicker can impact drying times making it take longer.

However, it can be particularly effective for creating texture in a painting.

Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil

Cold-pressed linseed oil is the gold standard for linseed oil.

This is commonly reference in oil paint tips because it provides such a nice finish.

This oil is known for its ability to remain smooth and consistent in a way that looks notably different.

It is believed to be easier to work with, and generally provides a beautiful glossy finish.

While many artists love working with paint that has this as a base, it can be incredibly expensive.

This oil base is far from an economic choice.

What Factors Impact Oil Paint?

Depending on how your oil paint is made, it can react differently.

You can buy red oil paints from two different companies, and see the differences.

Two completely similar products can be fundamentally different depending on how they were made.

This is driven by the use of different kinds of factors within the paint itself.

The oil used for your paint can have various effects on consistency and color.

Choosing the right oil base can help give your paintings more depth or just suit your vision better.

These bases come in varying degrees of thickness and consistency.

For this reason, they can impact how long it takes a painting to dry as well as the appearance.

Using turpentine or varnish can drastically alter how a painting ultimately looks.

Many oil paint tips refer to using these chemicals in the event you make your own paint.

Turpentine can be used as a solvent to alter the consistency of the oil paint.

This gives you more control over how thick or thin your paint is, which can help stylistically.

Varnish can be added to oil paint to take flat paint and make it shine.

Varnish is known for giving paintings a glossy finish that can look stunning or add depth to your painting.

The pigments that you use are also absolutely crucial when it comes to mixing your paints.

Depending on the source of pigment, you might find drastic color changes or even consistency changes.

Since pigment can be made in different ways, finding one that mixes well and looks appealing is important.

This becomes even more important when you consider adding multiple pigments to make complex colors.

Even using different pigment sources within a single painting can cause problems in the long run.

Choosing the Right Oil Base

When it comes to selecting the right oil base for you, you will want to focus on your needs.

This can be hard for some because needs change based on the piece.

One helpful part of mixing your own paints is being able to change this as needed.

However, you must understand each oil to get the desired effects for your painting.

Choosing the right oil base depends on several key factors.

Certain oils can have different impacts on the color of your paint, so always consider this.

Before you just decide to pick up a random oil base for your paints, do your research.

A key part of making beautiful paints is knowing how to mix them.

If you pick an oil base that is tinted or better for other colors, you might be disappointed with the results.

Second to color, understanding consistency is crucial.

If you know that you want thick, textured strokes, you won’t want a thin oil.

Consider what your vision is for the piece and then decide what consistency you will need.

Do your research to consider what oil will best accommodate making the paint that you need.

If you are buying paints, knowing how the bases move can help you pick the right option as well.

Finally, consider the finish and drying time.

Different oils come with different finishes that can make them glossy or flat.

If you want the painting to be shiny or matte, choosing the right oil can help.

Some oils are better for drying times and layers as well, making it important to look into this when choosing.


When it comes to knowing what oils can you use for oil paintings, there is much to learn.

Depending on your experience or skill level, there are some things that you have to consider for your own success.

Learning to make your own paints can be a helpful step towards creating more customized paintings.

On the other hand, knowing what is in the paints you buy can help.

There is nothing more disappointing than buying paint and realizing that it isn’t the right consistency.

Whether you use coconut oil for oil painting or the other oils listed above, understanding oil paint fundamentals can help you bring your vision to life.

Learn all that you can and apply that theory to your work!

What do you use for oil painting?

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