How to thin oil paint with linseed oil – Easiest Strategy

Linseed oil is a slow-drying medium that also slows the drying time of oil paints. It can be used with several methods to make the oil paints shinier and thinner.

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But which method is most accurate to use the linseed oil and how to thin oil paint with it?

Here is How to thin oil paint with linseed oil?

To thin oil paint, take out a small amount of oil paint on a palette and use a bristle of a brush to shake it. Then dip the brush in linseed oil and mix it with oil paint. Now, you can adjust the consistency of your oil paint as per requirements. The more linseed oil means the more thinning of it

Always try to make the initial layers thin by using 2 drops of linseed oil but as you move further, use it a little bit which will allow you to properly manage the time, texture and life of your oil paints. 

Here you should be aware that using linseed oil does increase the drying time of your oil paint. But you need to figure out whether you want to increase the drying time or not. If not, then give up the use of linseed oil or replace it with any other oil that will not cause a reduction in drying time.

But, I always prefer using linseed oil because its performance is best as compared to other oils. It makes the pigment more realistic, transparent, and better in flow. It is also very helpful when painting between layers. Its use is very large in thinning of oil paint.

Can you use oil paint without linseed oil?

Linseed oil

You can use oil paints in any form except when they are dried. But to create some artwork, linseed oil is necessary except for impasto. Without linseed oil, you cannot get a good flow and even you cannot create realistic works.

Make sure, you are using it with a piece of good knowledge about desired quantity and results.

Advantages of linseed oil

Linseed oil is a perfect medium to thin down your oil paints by improving flow and reducing brush strokes. It also reduces the drying time of oil paints which allows you to work more and even you can get some rest or leave the painting for the whole night. In the morning, you can restart the painting from the same session where you had left off.

Those paints which come to you from stores also contain some amount of linseed oil as oil paint is a mixture of pigment and linseed oil.

It also uses to oil prime your canvas which is simply done by applying a layer of a mixture containing chalk, lead white, and linseed oil. Doing so helps to increase the life of your artwork.

Linseed Oil VS Stand Oil

Linseed oilStand oil
Linseed oil is thinner in consistencyStand oil is thicker in consistency
Increase the paint flow after dryingCauses colors to flow after drying
Reduce drying timeReduce drying time at a double rate

Here, I am comparing these two mediums just because most beginners often think they work the same. They are right to some extent but stand oil is more thicker than linseed oil. No doubt, in working they both are same but in drying and consistency, there is a lot of difference between them.

Can I apply linseed oil on canvas before oil paint to thin it?

No, don’t apply linseed oil before the oil paint to thin it because it cannot give you desired results. By doing so, you have to use so much linseed oil and oil paint will not get properly thin. In fact, you can thin down oil paint by directly mixing some drops of linseed oil with the help of your brush.

Applying linseed oil on canvas before oil paint is a practice which often use in priming or extending paint life. This method acts as a pre-treatment for your oil painting.

How much linseed oil you should use to thin down oil paint?

It totally depends upon the method which you are applying. Normally, your oil paint needs only 1-2 drops of linseed oil to get thin but if you want to make it thinner then add a couple of drops. Remember to never add too much linseed oil to the oil paint as this will make it too thin and it lose its strength.

You should avoid using it while working with the impasto, as this technique requires you to keep the oil paint thick.

What can I use instead of linseed oil?

By the way, linseed oil is best in working with oil paint but at some moments it can create some problems. For example, linseed oil gets firm after drying and it will result in cracks after some years. As it is naturally yellowish in color so it also makes the oil painting yellowish.

To avoid this, you can also use some substitutes of linseed oil or even some updated versions of it. These are as follows

  • Cold-pressed linseed oil
  • Poppy oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Stand oil

Is linseed oil bad for my oil paints?

Linseed oil is not bad for your oil paints nor it is toxic. But you should use only a small quantity because larger amount results in more drying time and a more yellowish surface after drying.

Linseed oil is just a perfect medium for your oil paints and this characteristic also makes it the most trending medium in oil painting. If you use it properly then there is no risk.

Can You clean oil paint brushes with linseed oil?

Yes, you can because it works to thin down the oil paints which also helps in cleaning that oil paint. To do so, just take some linseed oil in a cap of a bottle and dip bristle into it. Use your thumb to remove the stubborn paint particles then use water to clean them properly.

Final words

Thinning down oil paints with linseed oil is just a simple procedure that hardly takes 10 to 20 seconds but this is an important step towards a better and glossy oil painting. Linseed oil is a preferred medium that allows the artist to get their desired amount of consistency and flow from oil paints. This is the same as you using water for watercolors.

This is necessary to know how much linseed oil is enough to thin down your oil paints. As I described earlier, linseed oil should be used in small quantities so just a few drops are enough. Doing this procedure, again and again, will let you control the consistency with yourself.

Oil painting is based on four key points which are knowledge, practice, skill, and ideas. It is not like other techniques in which an artist only uses his skill and ideas to create artwork. It is more than just an artwork and this technique cannot be learned without some initial failures. So, go ahead and put your paintbrushes and explore more.

A masterpiece


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