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

Jo,

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.