Mixing Walnut Paint With Linseed Paint

I just purchased some M Graham paints, which use walnut oil as their binder, and I am eager to give them a try.  Are there any problems with using both linseed based oils and walnut based oils simultaneously in a painting?  The concern that I have, is that the walnut oils will be much fatter in general and will mess up the fat over lean rule.  I would appreciate some help. 


  • BruceBlack

    No problems I am aware of. Chemically compatible. Oil loading will be not in excess of using either one of these products. Fat over lean is a layering problem, not applicable to the direct single layer technique taught by Mark.

    If you choose to layer pigments, continue to add more oil to new layers of paint to avoid wrinkling and cracking.

  • I’ve used both winton and Graham without any issues.
  • @dencal and @GTO you guys are great. Thanks for the info! 
  • Warning: extremely long answer alert: meandering thoughts about oil

    I think the fat over lean rule is likely the single most misunderstood concept in oil painting. It can lead to real problems of washy, underbound underpaintings, and overly oily, fat top layers which can take a very long time to dry. Mr. Carder’s direct single layer is very sound structurally. I paint differently.

    I paint with the same amount of medium in all layers. Medium on medium. I paint dimensionally thin, and wait until one layer is dry to the touch before putting on the next. I mix different types of oil together: the tubed paint already has one type of oil, and I usually add some more walnut oil (if I want the paint to stay open longer) or Liquin alkyd (it contains a drier) if I want the paint to set up quickly.  I add no more than 15% additional medium to the paint from the tube. I hardly ever use any solvent.

    When a thin layer is dry to the touch, this means that the layer has effectively added as many oxygen molecules as it is going to, and so has expanded its volume about as much as it is going to. From that point on, it will only lose oxygen molecules, lose volume, and shrink over the decades. Once it is touch dry, you can paint on it with no problem of later cracking caused by the underlayer expanding. In over 50 years of painting, I have never experienced any cracking or delamination in paintings.

    If you paint impasto, then the curing processes are very different.

    I would caution against using oil made for food consumption because this can have an antioxidant added to it – this will really slow down the oil from oxidizing and curing.

    I would personally not use additional oil made from safflower or soybean. I try to stay away from tubed paint made with them - but have never been known to turn down free paint 😊 I suspect the tubed paints made with them have a small amount of drier added to them to make them dry fast enough to satisfy the painters who buy them.

    Walnut oil takes a little longer than linseed to set up, but I do not think it is chemically fatter. From memory, fastest drying to slowest drying oils: linseed, walnut, poppy, safflower, soybean.

    Blue Ridge paints in the US are the best commercial paints I have used. One may buy direct from their website.  

  • @Desertsky, First, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I also tend to work in layers with each layer drying. However, I have always thought I needed to add more fat to each layer, so I have learned something from you. I really appreciate this response. 
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