“Why walnut oil?” is a fairly frequent question I get from people who are true students of the medium and who want to pick my brain. Well, in this post I hope to answer that question fairly comprehensively, which won’t really be all that extensive. The fact is, I’m a simple guy and I don’t like to get too technical with the whys and wherefores. And believe me, I’ve spent many sleepless nights on the other end of the spectrum — reading articles and searching forums for the pigments, mediums, and even solvents, of the Masters.
But due to time, money (or the lack thereof), and other responsibilities (What, I have a life outside of art? Well…no, not really) I have mostly gone to commercially and readily available materials and supplies. Most of the well known reputable companies are putting out some pretty decent stuff.
I’m not sure how it happened but somewhere along the line I stumbled upon M. Graham paints (which uses walnut oil as a vehicle) and walnut oil as a medium. It just feels right to me. I cannot describe the very subtle difference I feel but it’s there. At least for me it’s there. I can also feel a very subtle difference in the thinning medium I use, which is a 1:1 mixture of odorless mineral spirits and walnut oil. What I mean is it feels different than 1:1 linseed oil and OMS. And I like it better. So there you have it. It suits me.
Okay, now some minor technical items which strengthen why I like it:
It stays “open” a bit longer than linseed oil paints.
It’s not supposed to yellow as much as linseed oil paint over time.
It’s compatible with linseed oil paint if M Graham doesn’t make a particular color I like and I have to get it from a different manufacturer.
When I “oil in” with walnut it doesn’t bead off the whites like linseed oil does (at least that’s my experience).
There is a historical (an historical?) precedent for using walnut oil as a vehicle and medium for paint.
So I don’t have any highfalutin reason why walnut. For me my paint is a tool I use to express myself artistically. The walnut “tool” works well for me. If you want to try it click the image above and it will take you to an Amazon page where you may purchase some.
Here’s a link to the M. Graham site if you want to find out more about their products.
All the best!