When Should I Or Should I Use Walnut Oil?

Dear Darrell,

I meet with a group of local artists monthly and we exchange ideas and have showings. Lately, some have favored using walnut oil as a medium? Is that something I should use, or when is it best to use?

Jo Katerin


Walnut oil is usually sold boiled and is one of the fastest drying mediums on the market. Its called a ‘lean’ medium, meaning very fast drying.

Many artists like to use this medium almost exclusively. Others use it only for dark colors or when initially blocking in color on a canvas.

The oil enriches the paint it is mixed with and is considered a thick medium as well. It only takes a few hours for paintings to dry when using walnut oil.

The standard mixture is 2 parts of odorless turpentine with one part of walnut oil, according to the artists I know and some of the supplier’s literature on the internet.

Do you need to use Walnut oil for painting? No, but anytime you’re looking for a fast drying or lean medium when painting tall ships, wildlife or portraits, this is an excellent candidate.