How To Use Linseed Oil And Turpentine In Oil Painting!

Our content may have affiliate links that can result in commissions for qualifying purchases, full details in our privacy policy.

With the surge in popularity of oil painting, we have noticed more and more people reaching out with questions about the various oil mediums on the market. Although we have already covered a number of them in other articles, we have noticed a spike in the people reaching out to ask how to use linseed oil and turpentine in oil painting. Due to both linseed oil and turpentine being the two more popular mediums amongst the community and mixing them allowing you to compound their benefits, we decided to publish this dedicated article on the subject.

Before we go any further, we just want to quickly confirm that we will only be referring to distilled turpentine and refined linseed oil throughout this article that has been specifically designed for use with arts and crafts. We would never recommend that you use regular household turpentine with your oil paints and although some people do use raw linseed oil with their oil paints, they tend to have negative effects in the long run making refined linseed oil a much better option.

In addition to this, both refined linseed oil and distilled turpentine work very well with your oil paints without having to be mixed together. The majority of people in the arts and crafts community who oil paint tend to use either option as a stand alone medium rather than mixing them so this is a valid path to take if you wish too. As we are covering such a range of topic in this article, we have also added our table of contents below so you can skip to specific sections of the article if needed.

How To Use Linseed Oil And Turpentine In Oil Painting!

Out of all of the mediums that people tend to use in their arts and crafts and oil painting sessions, turpentine and linseed oil tends to be the most commonly used as stand-alone options. We have dedicated articles going into how to use turpentine in oil painting and how to use linseed oil in oil painting if you are just looking to use one of the mediums. We also have a dedicated article on how to use stand oil for oil painting that is essentially a highly refined linseed oil too but we won’t be touching on stand oil for the remainder of the article.

The main uses of a hybrid medium of turpentine and linseed oil is as a fast drying thinner for your oil paints that is also smooth to apply to your canvas, paper, or other surface. The fast drying properties of the mixture comes from the turpentine used where as the smoother application is from the linseed oil as each medium tends to struggle with the advantage of the other.

By mixing the two together, you tend to get one of the best solutions for base coats to be applied directly to your canvas as they dry very quick while also being easy to actually apply. This forms one of the best base layers possible for your upper layers in your oil painting and is the main reason that more and more people are switching over to using a hybrid medium.

What Is The Difference Between Linseed Oil And Turpentine?

Linseed oil as the name suggests is an oil that is more of a traditional medium when used with oil paints. Once mixed with your oil paint be it directly out of a tube or by adding the pigment into your linseed oil, it tends to offer nice, smooth strokes while also tending to attach to your canvas better while also offering a slightly higher level of detail with a finer brush.

Turpentine on the other hand is a solvent but can also be used as a medium for any layers that need to dry as fast as possible where as linseed oil can take as long as eighteen hours longer to dry. With drying speed being the main advantage of turpentine, you may guess that its downsides are generally based around the opposite to the advantages of linseed oil explained above.

There are various other mediums that you can use that all have their own advantages and disadvantages over each other too that you are able to experiment with in your oil painting sessions. Although it is not a definitive list, we usually recommend that our readers try to only stick to the following five mediums outside of linseed oil and turpentine:-

Can You Mix Turpentine And Linseed Oil?

You can mix turpentine and linseed oil together for use as a medium with your oil paints and the mixture tends to perform well in most cases. Although there are a number of different ratios of turpentine and linseed oil that you are able to use that each have their own advantages, the most commonly used one tends to be one part linseed oil and two pars turpentine.

As linseed oil can tend to yellow after a few years, some people do sub regular linseed oil out of their mixture and opt to use Winsor & Newton Linseed Stand Oil, 75ml (2.5oz) Bottle instead. With stand oil being a highly refined version of linseed oil, the various impurities that cause regular linseed oil to yellow over time have been removed meaning stand oil can last for decades without any yellowing even when mixed with turpentine.

The one part linseed oil and two pars turpentine mixture tends to offer the painter a very fast drying medium that offers nice properties when being applied to the canvas with smoother brush control. If you need better brush control for more detailed work on your base layers then two parts linseed oil, one part turpentine can be used but detailed work is usually done on the outer layers of your painting where a stand alone medium is often used such as refined linseed oil without any turpentine.

How To Mix Turpentine And Linseed Oil!

To mix turpentine and linseed oil you will need a measuring cup, a mixing container, and a mixing tool. The actual amounts of medium by volume that you will actually add will change depending on how much of the solution you require so we will stick to using “parts”. Measure out one part linseed oil and apply it to your mixing container and then measure out double that amount (two parts) of turpentine and add it to your mixing container.

Due to the linseed oil being considerably denser than your turpentine, it is normal for your linseed oil to site at the bottom of your mixing container when both substances are first added to your container. Next up you need to take your mixing tool and thoroughly mix the two together ensuring that you put your mixing tool into the container deep enough to pull the linseed oil up from the bottom to force it to mix with your turpentine.

The mixing process can take a considerable amount of time, especially if you are mixing layer quantities of linseed oil and turpentine as it is a pain to get the linseed oil to mix well with your turpentine. Although we have seen people say they simply put their mixture into a blender to mix it together, the violent action of the blender blades tends to cause an effect that keeps large amounts of air in the mixture that causes issues when applied to your oil paint. We know it takes time but in our opinion, using your hands to mix the two is always the better option.

Do You Need To Add Turpentine To Linseed Oil?

It is not essential to add turpentine to linseed oil as both can be used as stand alone mediums with oil paint to great effect. The difficulty of mixing the two together correctly is the main reason that people tend to use turpentine as their solution of choice for based layers and then switch over to linseed oil as their medium for their upper layers of their painting without mixing the two.

The end result is almost the same as if you had mixed the two together and as we mentioned earlier in the article, the additional detail offered by mixing the two together is often pointless for base layers of paint. The majority of people just want a quick and easy base layer onto their canvas with minimal detail and then they will use the additional paint layers on their canvas for the higher detailed work with a medium such as linseed oil.


That brings our article going over how you can use linseed oil and turpentine in oil painting together while we linked to our dedicated articles on using both mediums as a stand alone option earlier in the article. Although professional level artists may get a benefit from using both turpentine and linseed oil together, we feel that beginners and most intermediates will probably be better off if they just choose to use linseed oil as a stand alone medium and wait for each of their layers to dry.