The Drawing Room

Oil Solvents

Solvents are used to dilute colour, as well as for cleaning brushes and palettes after a painting session. Solvents made for artists are intended to be fully volatile, meaning that upon evaporation from the paint mixture, they leave no residual matter behind.

Artists' White Spirit (Winsor & Newton)


Artists' White Spirit is a volatile, flammable diluent (thinner) for oil colours and a cleaning for brushes. Whilst it has a characteristic odour, this is less pronounced than Turpentine. This makes a watery mixture, evaporates quickly, is less hazardous than Distilled Turpentine, less costly and does not deteriorate on storage.

Distilled Turpentine (Winsor & Newton)



All solvents vary in strength and their capacity to 'loosen up' the body of the colour. The artists' grade solvent with the greatest power is Distilled Turpentine, the only artists' grade solvent capable of easily dissolving Dammar resin. Turpentine makes a viscous mixture, evaporates slowly, and is the most hazardous and strongest smelling solvent commonly used by artists.


Sansodor (Low Odour Solvent) (Winsor & Newton)


Sansodor makes a viscous mixture, evaporates slowly, and is the least hazardous of all solvents. Sansodor does not deteriorate on storage and has minimal odour. This is well suited to artists who prefer to avoid exposure to turpentine.


Artists' Picture Cleaner


Not strictly a solvent, Artists' Picture Cleaner is a liquid which is designed for the cleaning of varnished paintings and is an excellent product for this purpose. It works by dissolving linseed oil oxidation and will remove surface dirt and the products of oxidation in the old varnish.


Artisan Thinner (Winsor & Newton)


Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour has a specific Thinner for the range. The purpose of Artisan is to be able to avoid the use of hazardous solvents. Although water is suitable as a diluent for the colour, its speedy evaporation can make the colour thicken upon the palette much quicker than conventional oil colour would when used with turpentine.


Petroleum Spirit Rectified (Old Holland)

Old Holland oil solvent


Solvent thinner for oil paint. Makes the paint less oily and is suitable for cleaning brushes effectively.  Obtained by distilling mineral oil.

Turpentine (Daler Rowney)

Daler Rowney oil mediums

Dilutes oil colour to create thin quick drying washes in the early stages of painting. Also used to clean brushes.

Low Odour Thinners (Daler Rowney)

A low odour alternative to Turpentine, ideal when working in a confined space or for those artists who find Turpentine to have too strong an odour. Also used to clean palettes and brushes.

Artists’ Clear Picture Varnish (Daler Rowney)

A removable picture varnish for a clear even gloss, which will not yellow or bloom. When applied lightly by aerosol it makes an excellent Retouching Varnish. May be used on both oil & acrylic painting.

Picture Cleaner (Old Holland)

Suitable for cleaning the varnish layer of dirt and grime. Due to the presence of beeswax, the painting becomes matt during drying. Soluble in white spirit.

Turpentine Rectified (Old Holland)

Solvent thinner for oil paint. Helps to makes the paint less oily. Also suitable for cleaning brushes. Obtained by distilling mineral oil

Other areas of interest:

Oil Varnish
Oil Paint

Hints, Tips & Techniques for Oil - Solvents

Brand web-sites.

Winsor & Newton 

Old Holland 

Daler Rowney

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