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Mediums of Oil Painting

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

Rad Educators is a 1-year program intended to help beginner artists learn step-by-step techniques from professional artists across different mediums. This is in no way sponsored or promoted by any particular Art Brand.

Nilisha Phad is Rad Educator for Oil Painting - Portrait.

In this tutorial, I would like to focus more on the materialistic part of oil painting - the canvases, oils, turpentines, and other mediums which contribute to the process.

While painting, the material plays an important role. Each medium has its own properties. They should be studied properly before usage.


Linseed oil is oil obtained out of the flax seeds. This oil is used for cooking as well. As a medium for painting, this oil acts as a paint-thinner, increasing the spreading area of the paint. The linseed keeps the paint fresh for years.

However, linseed oil can be thick and sticky in consistency and should be used carefully. I prefer to mix a little turpentine in the oil, keeping the quantity of oil 3 times more than the turpentine mixed.


Turpentine is a solvent made out of resin extracted from trees. It is also used for thinning the paint. However, unlike linseed, turpentine dries quickly and is therefore used to give a tint to the canvas.

In addition to this, turpentine can be used to clean brushes while painting. However, the brushes should be thoroughly cleaned with a cloth before dipping in other colors. If this is not done, it can lead to the painting becoming dry and patchy.


Liquin gel by Winsor and Newton is used to varnish paintings. It is also mixed in paint while painting to make it dry faster without affecting the quality. It’s an excellent alternative to linseed oil when painting on the spot paintings or outdoors.


Last but not the least, the quality of the canvas is a major factor which contributes to painting in oil. The canvas is primed with materials that don’t absorb oil (such as ‘gesso’), making it suitable for oil painting. There are a variety of canvases available today. They can be differentiated on the basis of their grains - fine, medium or large grain canvases. The canvas is a cloth and therefore, can also be differentiated on the basis of the quality of cloth - linen/cotton.

Linen canvases are considered to be of better quality than normal ones due to the weaving of the thread and durability. Also, fine grain linen canvases hold colors with better efficiency than the normal canvas.

Alas, finding what materials and mediums suit your particular style of painting is also always very important. One can prepare their own surfaces according to the result to be obtained while painting.

I hope you find this information useful.

Until next time,

Happy Painting!

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