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AB Artworld – Artists’ Oil Colour

Artists’ Oil Colour

Range Introduction

Tubes of Artists' Oil Colour

Artists’ Oil Colour is unmatched for its purity, quality and reliability – a success which is reflected in its world-wide reputation amongst professional artists. It has 120 colours in the range, offering the widest spectrum of all the oil color ranges.

Sizes Available

The full range of 120 colours are available in 37ml tubes. 34 colours are available in 200ml tubes. Some whites are also available in 60ml tubes. 21ml tubes are not available in the UK market (except in sets).


Every Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour is individually formulated to enhance each pigment’s natural characteristics and ensure stability of colour. By exercising maximum quality control throughout all stages of manufacture, selecting the most suitable drying oils and method of pigment dispersion, the unique individual properties of each colour are preserved.

Combined with over 170 years of manufacturing and quality control expertise, the formulation of Artist’s Oil Colour ensures the best raw materials are made into the World’s Finest Colours.

Covering Power

Covering Power not only comes from pigment strength, but also from the greater thickness of colour, which results from the stiff consistency associated with Artists’ Oil Colour. Covering power is particularly linked to the most opaque colours like Titanium White and the Cadmiums.

Widest Spectrum

We are famous for providing the widest spectrum of colours within our ranges. The colours are selected according to mass tone [colour from tube], undertone [bias of colour when in a thin film], strength and relative opacity. This provides the largest number of colour positions and an infinite number of colour mixtures. A total of 100 different pigments are used to produce 120 colours.

Colour Series

As the cost of the pigments used varies, so does the price charged for the colour. Thereforewe have grouped colours together in ‘series’. The higher the series number, the higher the price. You can find the series number both on the colour chart and on the tube.
Transparency & Opacity

Pigments vary in their transparency by nature. On the Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour chart and individual colour pages of this site, the transparent colours are marked with Transparent colour icon or T, the semi-transparent colours are marked Semi transparent colour icon or ST. The relatively semiopaque colours are marked with Semiopaque colour icon or SO and the opaque colours are marked with Opaque colour icon  or O.

Remember that the level of transparency of a colour is relative to other colours. Transparent colours are used for glazing and tinting, providing optical colour mixtures and depth of colour to the painting surface. Opaque colours cover well, give flat areas of colour and obscure/mask the underlayers of the painting.

Artists’ Oil Colour is formulated to reflect the characteristics of each of the various pigments, ensuring that synthetic organics such as Phthalocyanines and Quinacridones [ie. “Winsor” or “Permanent colours”] deliver maximum transparency, whilst Cadmiums and Earth colours offer excellent opacity.

Surface Sheen

While Artists’ Oil Colour is formulated to provide as even a reflective surface as possible, it’s important to note that the reflective quality of the oil film is affected by a wide variety of factors. Because each pigment requires differing volumes of oil informulation, the surface sheen may differ from colour to colour. The addition of solvent, and the use of additive mediums will alter surface sheen as well as the ground used.


Since 1832 we have been developing permanent alternatives for the less durable traditional colours, without compromising the handling properties of the oil colours. As a result, the permanence of the colour range as a whole has been improved beyond the dreams of past painters.

Of the 120 colours in the range, 119 are now classed as ‘permanent for artists’ use’ [AA or A ratings from Winsor & Newton] which aids in the longevity of paintings. Although Alizarin Crimson is only given a “B” rating ( moderately durable), it has been part of Artists’ Oil Colour for over 130 years and is still considered a key colour by many contemporary artists.

Drying Times

The long drying time of Artists’ Oil Colour is also a key feature of oil painting. The colour remains soft and wet for a few days and therefore allows corrections to be made from day to day.

All colours will become touch dry in thin films in 2-14 days. The different reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil results in the different dry rates. Each colour is individually formulated to optimise its drying rate, which helps artists to avoid the problems of slow drying underlayers. However, the following list is a guide to the likely variations:

Fast Drying [around two days]:

Permanent Mauve [manganese], Cobalt Blues, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Umbers, Flake, Foundation and Cremnitz Whites [lead].

Medium drying [around five days]:

Winsor Blues and Greens [phthalocyanines], Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Violet and Greens, Ultramarine Blues, Mars colours [synthetic iron oxides], Sap Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ochres, Cadmiums, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black, Pyrrols, Bismuth Yellow, Perylenes.

Slow drying [more than five days]:

Winsor Yellows and Orange (arylides), Quinacridones, Alizarin Crimson.

Liquin Original is the perfect medium to speed the drying time of oil colour. It will speed the drying by approximately 50%.