Non-toxic oil painting

I have given oil painting a wide berth for many years. The last time I tried, solve fumes had me suffering sinus and upper respiratory inflammation for a couple of weeks. Plus, I loathe the smell of linseed oil.

Some work plans dictated the need to use slow-drying paints. So I recently played with Golden Open acrylics, which are quite wonderful, but still will not give me the kind of longevity I need, particularly for larger works.

There are several options to solvent-free oil painting now: Citrus-based cleaners and other thinners, strict use of oil over solvents for cleaning. But none of these also solve my revulsion to linseed oil?

IMG_3995Research led me to M.Graham oil paints. These are high-quality, artist paints, created with walnut oil – very stable and less yellowing than linseed, particularly with whites and blues. It is easy to clean brushes in pure walnut oil, and apparently, there’s barely any smell.

A sample pack arrived in the post last week and I’m delighted to report that there is almost no discernible scent at all, neither in the paints nor the pure oil itself.


The set features primary colours, plus titanium white, and a bottle each of walnut oil and alkyd medium (for thinning and reducing doing time). It’s refreshing to see a sample pack that is fully usable, not merely a few odd colours to try out. Interestingly they are now explicitly marketing M. Graham oils as a solvent-free alternative to traditional oil paints.

More about how I get on with these once I’ve had a proper play with them, but right now, I’m thoroughly optimistic.

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