Walnut Oil as a painting medium?

I am curious about walnut oil as a painting medium. I understand it is solvent free with out the smell? Also wondering if Walnut oil is archival?

I wonder if it turns color after a long time. I think there was something about it in The Artists Handbook - that huge book with a lot of good technical stuff in it. I vaguely remember that it is easy for conservators to remove later?. Don’t quote me on that one, though.

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I tried using walnut oil a few years ago. At first it’s fairly odorless, but after turning rancid, (which mine did in a couple of months), it had a very unpleasant smell. Maybe I purchased an older bottle off the shelf at my art supply store. Also, it didn’t take long for it to dry very hard in the bottle.

Yep, it’s a great alternative to other oils and mediums for oil painting. I was recommended to keep it in the fridge if not using it up right away. I’ve had a small bottle of it for over a year and just recently took it out. I’ve painted the most recent painting on Daily Paintworks with it and it worked great–no odour. Yes, it’s archival and doesn’t yellow over time like linseed oil. It produces a good strong film, unlike poppy seed oil. It was recommended for a recent workshop for acrylic and oil painters by a very informed instuctor, Andrea Mossop.’ M. Graham’ company is the brand I use.Hope this helps.

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P.S. I should clarify that walnut oil was recommended for the oil painters in attendance–not the acrylic artists. Also should mention that walnut alkyd is a medium for oils that increases drying time for oils. It was not recommended for the workshop setting as the odour is sometimes irritating to some. I don’t mind it and use it often in the studio.

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I started using the M Graham Walnut Alkyd Oil a couple of years ago and haven’t gone back to anything else. I love the fact that the painting will be mostly dry to the touch within 24 hours. I’ve never had a problem with yellowing and there is no unpleasant smell I can detect. Of course, growing up working on cars I can say that nothing with an oil smell bothers me.


I purchased M Graham Walnut oil in the past and discovered it took forever for my painting to dry. A few months later when I went to varnish it - the paint smeared! So I bought the M Graham Walnut Alkyd OIl and it works great! It dries fast and leaves a glossy shine - it doesn’t get dull when it dries. I varnish anyway so it isn’t a plus for me. But, your values will be correct for each session - no need for retouch varnish in between each session to bring back the correct values. However, I tend to not use the medium with every paint stroke so I WILL have dull areas. Long story short… I like it for the drying!

Heather - I just watched a Randal Sexton video and noted that he uses walnut oil and alkyd medium - I bet he could answer your question - you could try him at: http://www.rcsexton.com/contact/

I got out my very old Artist’s Handbook and it did say poppy seed oil and walnut oil are inferior to linseed oil. The book is quite old and maybe there have been some breakthroughs in both. The book is a 1982 edition. Thank you all for all your informative responses! I really appreciate it! I am taking my first oil workshop this month so materials are new to me.

I think you did get a bad bottle. I have had several containers of walnut oil around the studio for years, glass and plastic. None have ever dried up or started to smell?


I love walnut oil and use it exclusively now as a medium. I used to use liquin which would dry way too fast. Then I switched to the masters medium formula (stand oil, damar varnish, and turp.) Great silky feel and good gloss but it was hard to maintain an even consistency since the turpentine would evaporate out faster than the other ingredients. It also is a lot harder on your brushes unless you are very careful about cleaning them the varnish can gunk them up. It was after working with Michelle Dunaway this past year that I made the switch. She prefers artists to only use walnut oil for her workshops. I was skeptical at first but once I got used to it I doubt I will ever use anything else.

Thanks Dalan. Maybe I’ll purchase from another store and give it a try again.

Its archival


Thanks Joe. Great link with interesting information. I am using liquin now, but it’s good to know that walnut oil is archival.

I’ve been using walnut oil for many years and just love it