How To Use Linseed Oil In Oil Painting!

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Although oil painting has been a popular form of arts and crafts for decades, there has been a slight surge in its popularity recently with more and more people taking up oil painting as a way to pass the time and to express their creativity. Due to this spike in popularity, we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions relating to oil painting with questions based around using linseed oil in oil painting being one of the more commonly asked questions.

Due to this as well as linseed oil being a pretty versatile medium with plenty of applications in arts and crafts, we have decided to publish this article going over how you can use linseed oil for your oil painting to help you get a better end result. Although there are a number of different types of linseed oil on the market that have been designed for different uses, throughout this article we are exclusively referring to linseed oil for arts and crafts just to clear up any potential confusion.

As we see so many different questions relating to using linseed oil for oil painting we have added our table of contents below to make it as easy as possible for our readers to navigate the article without wasting time. Simply click on the sub-header that you want to read and it will automatically take you to that section instead of you having to skim through the whole article. That said though, if you are looking to use linseed oil to make your own homemade oil paints then reading the whole article is probably the best option.

Why Do You Use Linseed Oil In Oil Painting?

Although linseed oil has a number of practical applications when it comes to oil painting, there are two applications that linseed oil is most commonly used for. The first one is as a way to dilute your oil paints to change their drying time on your paper, canvas, or other surface. This is particularly helpful if you are painting in layers for your artwork as it allows you to easily build up the various layers without having to rush due to your oil paint drying quickly.

The second most common application for using linseed oil with oil paints is as an actual oil based medium for a pigment delivery system when making your own homemade oil paints. The use of high-quality pigment sticks has drastically increased over the last five to ten years as it offers more control over the actual color you use while also often working out to be cheaper than purchasing tubes of oil paint for your arts and crafts.

Although there are a number of oil paint mediums that you are able to use with these pigment sticks, a high-quality linseed oil is the most popular option by far. This is due to it being so cheap, easy to use, and readily available while offering you excellent performance when making your own oil paints at home.

Although you don’t have to use linseed oil at all for your oil painting sessions, it does tend to be a popular option as in addition to the applications above, it also offers you a quick and easy way to boost your pigment as well as thin your oil paint consistency if required. This helps increase the number of things that you are able to do with your oil paint making linseed oil an excellent accessory to have in your collection.

Can You Mix Pigment With Linseed Oil?

You can mix pigment with a decent quality linseed oil to make your own oil paints in the comfort of your own home. This is becoming an increasingly popular practice due to the additional level of control that it offers the artist when it comes to both the color and the consistency of their homemade oil paints.

Please note that there are a number of low-quality pigment sticks that are way overpriced for what you are actually getting. We would always that you ensure you are getting a high-quality pigment stick that is often the same price as the low-quality options on the market. This ensures that you will be able to get the best possible result out of your own homemade oil paints.

Another option that you can use instead of pigment sticks is actual paint pigment but this is not an option for all colors but many popular oil paint colors are available. Another option that tends to offer slightly lower quality results once your paint is dry is to use mica powder in your linseed oil for your homemade oil paint.

How To Use Linseed Oil To Make Your Own Oil Paint!

The basic steps of making your own oil paint at home is to add some color pigment to some linseed oil and then mix it. It is always easier if you start with small amounts of pigment at first and then thoroughly mix your linseed oil and pigment together to see how the color turns out.

If the color is too light then simply add a little more pigment and mix it together again and keep repeating the process until you are happy with the overall color of your homemade linseed oil paint. If the color does end up too dark for your liking then you are able to lighten it by adding more linseed oil or a little white paint but we usually recommend against this as it ends up making the process much harder.

Provided you start with small amounts of your pigment color of choice and then slowly add more after mixing the initial pigment in with your linseed oil, you should have no problems getting the color you want. Making your own homemade oil paint is much easier than many people initially think and this is why so many people are starting to do it.

Raw, Refined Or Boiled Linseed Oil For Oil Painting?

Although you can technically use any of the three main variants of linseed oil for oil painting, the majority of the arts and crafts community do tend to prefer to use refined linseed oil for their oil paints. Raw linseed oil can perform well too but some of the impurities left in the oil in its raw state can cause lighter paint colors to darken considerably where as refined linseed oil does not.

Although many people in the arts and crafts community recommend that you avoid using boiled linseed oil, you can use it if you are just learning to oil paint and are on a budget as it does tend to be cheaper. That said though, boiled linseed oil has a number of additives in it as it is designed for use in hardware and construction rather than arts and crafts and some of these additives can have an adverse effect on the final color of your paint once dry.

Due to this, we usually recommend that our readers do try to stick to refined linseed oil as it is usually only a few dollars more than boiled or raw linseed oil but tends to offer better results. If you are an established artist or you are doing work on commissions for paying clients then we would highly recommend that you go with refined linseed oil.

Does Linseed Oil Make Oil Paint Dry Faster Or Slower?

You are actually able to use linseed oil to make your oil paint dry bother faster and slower depending on the quantity of linseed oil used as well as how you use it with your oil paints. Linseed oil does tend to be one of the faster drying oil paint mediums and the majority of commercial oil paints will be linseed oil based to try and get them to dry as quickly as possible.

That said though, as we touched on earlier, you are able to add more linseed oil to your oil paint prior to applying it to your paper or canvas to cause it to dry at a slower pace then it would otherwise. This has a number of advantages when oil painting in different ways allowing you to take advantage of the slower drying times to build up layers in your artwork.

You can take this a step further, especially if you are making your own oil paints by adding pigment directly to the oil by using poppy oil or walnut oil as they both tend to try slower than linseed oil. Please keep in mind though that poppy oil tends to be only used with lighter colors and can tweak any darker colors that it is used with.

Do You Have To Use Linseed Oil When Oil Painting?

Although linseed oil is the most popular medium used for oil painting, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. That said though, many of the commercially available oil paint does contain linseed as the medium anyway so you may be using linseed oil without knowing it. Linseed oil also tends to be the cheapest and usually the easiest option for a medium when making your own paints by using a pigment stick too.

What Can I Use Instead Of Linseed Oil For Oil Painting?

There are a number of very popular alternatives to linseed oil that you are able to use for your oil painting if you do want to use a linseed alternative. Although this is not an extensive list, in our opinion, the following options tend to offer you the best performance for your artwork:-

Some people also use olive oil or sunflower oil as an alternative to linseed oil for their oil painting but the options above tend to offer much better performance. Olive oil and sunflower oil can work but they tend to be hit and miss while usually having a poor end result when compared to the other oil mediums available.


That brings our article going over using linseed oil for oil painting to an end. We hope that you have found the article helpful and that we have been able to help you take your oil painting sessions to the next level. Linseed oil has a number of applications for oil painting making it a solid oil medium for your artwork but as we have touched on throughout the article, there are a number of alternatives available that can also perform well.