top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Walker

White oil paint test.

White oil paint test
White oil paint test

When I started oil painting , Titanium white was the first white I had available. Which is fine if you need a bright whiter than white, white. However this causes problems when mixing with other colours as its tinting strength is powerful. The main problem I had with this was when mixing flesh colours for portraits. Titanium white can leave flesh colours looking chalky and pale. This made me look for other types of white which in turn opened up a can of worms.

Different white oil paints have a wide variety of different pigments that mediums that behave differently and dry to different shades of white. On top of that, lead based whites are now banned and are really hard to get, unless you make your own !

I decided to do a white oil paint test to compare all the different whites I use.

My favourite white for mixing flesh colours is Windsor and Newton Flake white #1. I have a limited amount left and it is no longer made. Typical! This white is made from lead and zinc white bonded in safflower oil. It is fast drying, with a nice consistency, easy to use and mixes well.

If I could find anymore of this paint I would be very happy. Unfortuantely I am running very low and had to look for alternatives which I am yet to find anything as good as it. Old holland cremnitz is my next lead white of choice, it is lead white bonded with linseed oil. It has a medium drying time, but does yellow slightly to a light creamy colour. Not too much of a problem for flesh tones, but I'm not sure if I would like to use this for crest of a wave foam, or perhaps cloud highlights.

I also have some Rublev lead whites. Rublev lead white #1 is lead white bonded with linseed oil. It is very slow drying and does yellow slightly. Rublev lead white #2 is lead white bonded in Safflower oil. It has a medium drying time and isn't as yellowing as the #1. Both Rublev's seem to have a lot of oil and are quite sloppy out of the tube. I recently bought some Michael Harding lead white alternative, which has a medium drying time, but seems to yellow slightly.

I tend to stay away from pure zinc white as I have read that it can sometimes delaminate from the canvas support, though this seems to be in extreme cases, but it seems to be ok if mixed with titanium whites. Which brings me to Titanium whites. I have been using Old Holland titanium white for years, though since doing this test I am keen to find a titanium white that doesnt yellow. From my test I would say that Permalba stay very white, almost with a bluish tint, that I would describe as diamond white, however the consistency of this white is odd and I find it hard to work with for fine detail. Michael harding #2 stays white although it has a very long trying time. 2 months and it still is quite wet to the touch. Rembarnt titanium white seems to stay quite white although I'm not keen of its consistency. The next three titanium whites are quite new to me. First is Sennelier titanium and zinc with safflower oil. Medium drying time and staying white so far. Vasari titanium white in linseed oil. It's slow drying and yellows very slightly. Mussini titanium opaque has a mudium drying time and looks to stay white sofar.


I wish I could find more W & N flake #1, but when I run out of that I will turn to Old Holland cremnitz for skin tone mixing white. or maybe Rublev #2 for a brighter mixing white.

I am considering buying Michael Harding lead white # 1. the most expensive available.

Sennelier titanium white is my favourite for consistency for fine detail, drying time and brightness for highlights. I will update this post and test results after 6 months, 1 year and beyond to see how yellowing the white oil paints really are.

673 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page