How To Use Safflower Oil For Oil Painting!

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As the popularity of oil painting continues to increase with each passing year, we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions about the various popular oil painting mediums that are available. We have seen a large number of people reaching out for advice on how to use safflower oil for oil painting recently so we have decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Although linseed oil is still the most popular medium used for oil paints by far, safflower oil is an excellent alternative with it having some unique properties that even linseed oil is unable to offer you. In addition to this, you are able to get high-quality safflower oil cheap these days as prices have fallen over the last decade or so making it much more budget-friendly.

Our hope with this article is that we are going to be able to help our readers who are looking to use safflower oil in their oil painting use it to its full potential and get the best possible results from it once their oil paints have dried. As we are covering a number of questions in this article, we have our table of contents below that allows you to quickly and easily navigate to specific sections if needed but if you are new to oil painting then reading the whole article is probably the best option.

Is Safflower Oil Good For Oil Painting?

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Safflower oil is gaining more and more of a following as a medium for oil paint as the community starts to realise just how good and versatile it actually is. Other popular mediums such as linseed oil seem to have dominated the space for decades with excellent alternatives such as safflower oil staying under the radar but over the last decade or so, other oil mediums have seen a huge spike in their popularity with safflower oil definitely being one of the winners.

Depending on exactly what you need to do with your oil painting there may be better options that we will touch on for various situations throughout the article but for a general-purpose oil medium, safflower oil is an excellent option. It tends to help increase the gloss effect of your paints as well as the transparency for colors such as Indian yellow that have a naturally transparent effect too. Unlike some other oil mediums, safflower oil tends to be more resistant to yellowing over time too helping it score points over other options around this price point.

With the price of safflower oil having decreased over the years as more and more people start to farm it, the number of people who are able to experiment with safflower oil has opened up too allowing entry-level artists who are on a tight budget to play around with other mediums and fine out what fits their style too. We feel that this is another reason that safflower oil has seen such a spike in its popularity as the younger generation tend to share more of their work on social media and YouTube so the word gets out and more people decide to try it.

Why Do You Use Safflower Oil In Oil Painting?

Although safflower oil does have a number of uses when it comes to arts and crafts and oil painting, there are two main reasons that tend to be the most popular options amongst the community. The most common of the two main reasons is to use safflower oil as a way to change the consistency of your oil paint directly out of the tube to meet your needs.

Due to safflower oil having a slower drying time you are able to add it to a color to slow down its drying time to allow you to get better effects with layering and such on your artwork. You are also able to tweak the general consistency of your oil paint to get unique effects when applying it to canvas, paper or other surfaces too.

The second most commonly use of safflower oil in oil painting is to directly apply a pigment to it to make your own oil paints at home. Over the last few years this has became increasingly popular due to it offering so much control to the artist over the color of their paint while potentially working out to be cheaper than just buying a tube of paint too.

Can You Mix Pigment With Safflower Oil?

The vast majority of pigment options used for arts and crafts will mix very well with a decent, refined safflower oil allowing you to make your own oil paints at home with ease. Although there are a number of options that can perform well as a pigment, we would always recommend that our readers stick to any of the following three:-

These tend to offer you the best possible performance for your safflower oil based oil paints with the best color retention with minimal fade. We know that some people do choose to use eye shadow or food coloring as their pigment but we would not recommend this for oil paints as they tend to perform poorly.

Refined or Raw Safflower Oil?

We would always recommend that our readers go with refined safflower oil if possible. We know that it costs a little more and can be harder to get but it performs better than raw safflower oil offering a much better end result once your oil painting is complete. Raw safflower oil can have issued with lighter colors and result in a slight tint to them while also sometimes leaving a very light residue behind once dry.

As the various impurities in the oil have been removed during the refining process, this tends not to be an issue when using refined safflower oil helping to ensure that you will always get the best possible performance out of the medium. If you are just starting out and are on a budget then you can use raw safflower oil but if you are an established artist working on paid commissions then refined safflower oil is definitely the best route to take.

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

Making your own oil paint with safflower oil tends to be much easier than many people initially think while offering you a number of benefits. The basic process is based around applying your paint pigment to your safflower oil in stages with each stage adding a small amount of your pigment. This tends to offer you the highest level of control over the final color of your oil painting while also keeping the mixing process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Start with a decent amount of safflower oil in a container and then add a small amount of your pigment of choice to it. Mix the two together thoroughly so you get a good indication of the color that the paint will be but don’t worry if it is lighter than expected, this is totally normal with this strategy of only adding small amounts of pigment at first as you will almost always have to add more throughout the process.

Once your initial amount of pigment has been added and mixed with your safflower oil, add more if required and repeat the process by mixing it and checking the color. You then repeat the process over and over until your safflower oil is the color that you require. As you can probably imagine, lighter colors don’t require that you go through this process as often where as darker colors will need you to repeat it a few more times.

Does Safflower Oil Make Oil Paint Dry Faster Or Slower?

Safflower oil tends to be a little slower than average at drying making it an ideal paint medium for use on your outer coats of paint on your canvas or paper. That said though, safflower oil is not as slow at drying as something like poppy oil making safflower oil more of a general-purpose oil medium that can offer a pretty consistent drying time.

If you do need a fast drying oil for your base layers on your artwork then linseed oil may be a better option as it does tend to dry faster than safflower oil. If you have the time available to wait for your layers to dry though, you can usually use safflower oil for the whole painting without you having to go out and purchase a slower or faster drying paint medium.

This is one of the reasons that safflower oil has proven to be so popular amongst oil painters on a budget as they are able to reduce their costs by just using safflower oil as their medium of choice for all of their artwork rather than having to stock up on multiple options. That said though, there are a few safflower oil alternatives that also offer this benefit that we will touch on later in the article.

Do You Have To Use Safflower Oil When Oil Painting?

You don’t have to use safflower oil when oil painting and as we have pointed out throughout the article, there are a number of valid alternatives that offer solid performance with their own unique features. Although safflower oil has seen an increase in the number of people who opt to use it as their oil medium of choice, many of the other oil mediums definitely still have their place in the market and we doubt that options such as linseed oil will simply not be used anymore.

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

If you don’t fancy using safflower oil as your medium of choice for your oil painting then there are a number of alternatives that can perform just as well that you are able to try out. Although there are a large chunk of oil mediums that people do use, we would always recommend that you stick to any of the following mediums:-

Although things like sunflower oil, are used as an oil medium, we usually recommend you go with one of the above due to a number of issues that sunflower oil and a few other mediums commonly have when used. That said though, if you are on a budget and you can only use what you have in the house as you oil medium on non-serious artwork then sunflower oil, olive oil, and hemp oil have been used with mixed success.


That brings our article going over how to use safflower oil for oil painting to an end. We hope that you have found it helpful and that we have helped you get the most out of safflower oil for your oil painting. In our opinion, safflower oil is a great paint medium to use for your oil paintings and it is well worth trying out to see if it meets your needs and matches your style of painting.