How To Use Sunflower Oil For Oil Painting!

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With the surge in the popularity of oil painting, we have noticed more and more questions being asked about the various mediums that you are able to use to help you with your oil paintings. Although it is definitely one of the less commonly used oil paint mediums, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask how to use sunflower oil for oil painting.

Although Sunflower oil is often overlooked by artists, it can be a cheap medium to use for your oil painting if you are just starting out and you are on a tight budget. Although refined sunflower oil is definitely better as it tends not to change the colors of your paints as much as normal sunflower oil, it does tend to have a higher price tag and be harder to find in regular stores.

If possible though, we would always recommend that our readers go with refined linseed oil over sunflower oil as it performs considerably better than sunflower oil and offers a much better end result. That said though, we know that some people may have to use sunflower oil due to it being the only medium that they have access too so we will offer a full breakdown on using it below.

Can Sunflower Oil Be Used For Oil Painting?

Sunflower oil can be used for oil painting and although it does get the job done, it can slightly change the color of your oil paints, especially the lighter colors. It also tends to yellow once aged in too with some cheaper sunflower oils leaving a residue behind on your canvas or paper. This is why we only recommend that our readers use sunflower oil for their oil painting if they have no other option and if you do have to try and use sunflower oil, try to use refined sunflower oil.

Refined sunflower oil has more of the impurities removed from it then regular sunflower oil reducing the chance that it will yellow over time or leave a residue behind. This generally results in a much better end result for your arts and crafts once your oil painting is dry but we know that refined sunflower oil can be difficult to find and it is usually expensive.

Refined sunflower oil also tends to have a better ratio of polyunsaturated fat to monounsaturated fat than regular sunflower oil too but some regular sunflower oil can have an ideal ratio. Simply check the label of your sunflower oil and you are looking for a ratio close to 80:20 of polyunsaturated fat to monounsaturated fat so four parts poly to one part mono to help with consistency and drying.

Due to this, we usually recommend that our readers go with any of the following options for their oil paint medium of choice instead of sunflower oil:-

Why Do You Use Sunflower Oil In Oil Painting?

You are able to use sunflower oil in two main ways to help you with your oil painting. The first method and the more popular one is to change the consistency of your oil paints right out of the tube. Mixing them with a little sunflower oil can change their consistency to allow you to use the paint in a different way as well as to adjust its drying time if required. The longer you need your oil paints to dry the more sun flower oil you add to them to get the job done.

The second and less common method of using sunflower oil in your oil painting is to use it as a suitable paint medium to add a color pigment to when making your own oil paints at home. Now, there are a wide range of pigment options on the market that you can use but there are some cheap, high-quality pigment sticks as well as some excellent quality pigment dusts available for you to use.

Although some people do tend to use mica powder as their color option in their paints, we tend to recommend that our readers stick to actual pigments as the tend to offer a better level of color once dry. If you do only have mica powder available then you are able to use it with your sunflower oil to make your own oil paints for your arts and crafts though.

Can You Mix Pigment With Sunflower Oil?

A decent quality pigment will tend to mix well with sunflower oil with there being no special requirements for using sunflower oil as your paint medium of choice. You can usually get your pigment to mix all the way through your oil helping to ensure that you get a nice and consistent color all the way through your homemade oil paint.

Both pigment sticks and pigment in its regular dust form work well with sunflower oil with some people also using things such as mica powder, eye shadow, and food coloring to good effect too but this may not be suitable for artwork for paying clients. If you are planning on using your homemade oil paints for commissioned work then we would highly recommend that you stick to an actual pigment with Linseed Oil as your medium of choice.

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

To mix pigment with your sunflower oil we would highly recommend that you start with small amounts of pigments as one of the most common mistakes we see made time and time again with making your own oil paints is adding too much pigment at the start. This results in a dense, dark oil paint that will need to be lightened further complicating the process so trying to avoid this issue is usually the best course of action.

Simply put your sunflower oil in a container, add a little pigment to it, mix it thoroughly with a mixing tool and once the pigment has been fully mixed into your sunflower oil, check the color. If it does need to be darkened then add a little more pigment and re-mix your sunflower oil and then once mixed, check the color and repeat this process until you are happy with the result.

Does Sunflower Oil Make Oil Paint Dry Faster Or Slower?

Sunflower oil tends to be a middle of the road oil when it comes to its drying time with something like linseed oil tending to dry quickly while poppy oil tends to dry slower with sunflower oil being somewhere in the middle. As we touched on earlier in the article though, the polyunsaturated fat to monounsaturated fat ratio will come into play for this with around an 80:20 ratio of polyunsaturated fat to monounsaturated fat being ideal for a decent drying time for your sunflower oil.


That brings our article going over using sunflower oil for oil painting to an end and we hope that you have found it helpful. Although sunflower oil tends not to perform as well as some of the other oil mediums, it is cheap and easy to source making it a decent option for anyone just starting out who wants to try their hand at oil painting while keeping their costs as low as possible.