Formulation, pigments and drying of Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours

Formulation, pigments and drying of Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours

Artisan's unique formulation, manufacture and quality control ensure an oil colour of absolute excellence, which is comparable if not better than many other conventional oil colours across the world. Artisan consistency is a careful balance between the pigment and the oils used in the formulation, allowing the artist a wide variety of techniques.


Winsor & Newton have over 170 years of experience in the making of oil colours. The choice of raw materials, formulation and manufacture of Artisan colours reflects this experience and produces a product of absolute excellence. The unique formulation contains no water. The modified vehicle (linseed and safflower oil) allows the colour to accept water and retain all the other characteristics of conventional oil colour.


A wide variety of pigments are used in Artisan to provide all the characteristics expected from a Winsor & Newton oil colour:
  • High pigment strength – this provides good covering power, which is the ability of a pigment to either go a long way or cover previous layers;
  • Single pigments – a high proportion of single pigments are used to provide brilliance of colour and clean colour mixing;
  • Variable opacity – Winsor & Newton select the most suitable oil and method of pigment dispersion to bring out the individuality of each pigment in the Artisan range. Opaque colours provide covering power and flat areas of colour whilst transparent colours give depth to the painting. 

Choice of Colours – Widest Spectrum

A traditional strength of a Winsor & Newton range is the broad choice of colours. The Artisan colour range has been chosen according to mass tone (colour from the tube), undertone (bias of colour when in a thin film), strength and relative opacity. Each colour has been specially selected looking at individual pigment characteristics.The resultant colour spectrum of 40 colours is spread around the colour wheel to ensure that as many colour positions and mixtures are possible.  

Short Buttery Consistency

Artisan has the short buttery consistency expected from an oil colour from Winsor & Newton, this consistency is a careful balance between the pigment and the oils used in the formulation (modified linseed and safflower). This is the traditional consistency of oil colours, and as such allows the artist a broader variety of techniques – the paint can be thinned as required.

Drying Times

As with conventional oil colours, the paint film will be touch dry in 2 -12 days, but different colours will dry at different rates due to the varying reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil. Winsor & Newton formulate each colour individually to optimize the overall drying rates of Artisan, helping artists to avoid the problems of slow drying under layers. The following list is a guide to the likely variations:

  • Fast Drying (around two days) – Prussian Blue, Umbers;
  • Medium Drying (around five days) – Cadmium Hues, Phthalo Blue (Red Shade), Phthalo Greens, Siennas, French Ultramarine, Synthetic Iron Oxides, Ochres,Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black and Ivory Black;
  • Slow Drying (more than five days) – Cadmiums, Permanent Rose (quinacridone), Permanent Alizarin Crimson. 

To speed the drying of all colours by around 50%, Artisan Fast Drying Medium or Impasto Medium is recommended.

As with conventional oil paintings, to avoid yellowing of the oil, paintings should not be allowed to dry in continuous darkness or places with high humidity. 
Artisan paintings require full drying before varnishing – at least 6 -12 months.

Sources: The text and some of the images in this article are from Winsor & Newton company.
Posted on 11/11/2017 Painting 6806

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