Updated: Apr 7
M. Graham's paints are primarily made of walnut oil medium which is not toxic. However, most brands of paint include pigments that are toxic: cadmiums, cobalt, Prussian blue, lead white. The trick is to use a color that is not toxic...some colors are close in properties so chose the non-toxic one. Also, a few of M. Grahams oil paints use an alkyd medium which is not good to smell. But you can check out which ones contain this in advance of purchase. They also sell a medium which is a 100 percent walnut oil and an alkyd walnut oil medium for faster drying.
The least expensive oil paints are called student or economy oil paints. The next level is called Professional Grade (Artists’ Oil Colors) which can vary from a moderate price to expensive depending on the manufacturing method and pigment used.
The standard binders used in oil paints are: linseed oil (the most common), safflower oil, poppy oil, and walnut oil. Linseed oil has the strongest paint film (less resistant to cracking). However, it yellows and has a significantly stronger odor than the others.
I generally use the same medium as the binder. It is used to increase or reduce the thickness of the oil paint and impart many other characteristics. It is best (not always required) to match the medium to the type of binder used in the paint. I use M. Graham walnut oil-based paint (Artists’ Oil Color) and thus use walnut oil medium to thin the paint. They offer both a pure painter’s medium (which I use) and a fast-drying medium with an alkyd base. The alkyd fumes in this medium are a little stronger than I like. Without alkyd, these paints dry to the touch in a few days if painted thinly. If you really need the paint to dry faster, there is a solvent-free gel medium made with low odor manufactured by Gamblin called “Solvent-Free Gel.” Gamblin claims that this gel made from safflower oil and alkyd. Also, it can somewhat thicken paint.
M. Graham oil paints are sold through art supply outlets, Amazon, etc. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I’ve provided the following link to a set of paints. Since the set doesn’t contain all my recommended paints, I recommend you purchase the paints and mediums separately. Or you can try this starter set which will a less expensive way to start. It also contains both walnut oil mediums:
M. Graham oil paint set
The following is the Gamblin fast-drying medium:
Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel Medium 150Ml