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Non toxic Alternative Oil Paint Products. By Don Finkeldei:  Artisan Santa Fe, the art supply store in Santa Fe New Mexico, asked me to try M. Graham paints, mediums.  M. Graham products are non-toxic and solvent-free.

I'm not particularly sensitive to petroleum based products products but some artists are.  This is a near perfect solution using oil paints instead of water based oils or acrylics.

Normally, I use the highest quality oil paints of the highest series, mineral spirits (or turpenoid) as a cleaning solvent, and liquin as a thinning/drying medium. I clean my brushes between strokes by swirling the brush in a "dirty" Prewash of mineral spirits, a clean wash of mineral spirits and then wring out the brush with a paper towel. I painted several paintings using only M. Grahm's non-toxic products:

Paint, (

  1. Cadmium Red Light, Series 6
  2. Cadmium Yellow Deep, Series 6.
  3. Cadmium Orange, Series 6 (only used with ultramarine blue to mix neutral grays).
  4. Cadmium Yellow light, Series 6.
  5. Ultramarine Blue, Series 2.
  6. Titanium White, Series 1.
  7. Alizarin Crimson, Series 2.
  8. Viridian, Series 6.


M. Graham's walnut oil for long drying times (the paints have a fairly thin viscosity.  I found it not necessary to use much walnut oil).  I used M. Graham's walnut/Alkyd medium for quicker drying times for plein aire painting.

The Brush cleaning solution is multi-part consisting of the walnut oil, The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver, and dish soap/water.  This is for cleaning brushes between strokes to remove excess paint and to preserve brushes after painting.  Swirl the brush in walnut oil.  Swirl the brush in dish soap/water, swirl the brush in "Masters Brush Cleaner", Swirl the brush in dish soap/water.  Wring out with a paper towel.

My concerns were:

  1. Quality of pigment saturation.
  2. Balance of the tube paints (the ability to mix very neutral gray and other warm and cool grays).
  3. Drying time variability (using wanut/alkyd).
  4. Viscosity and consistency of the paint.I use a limited palette with gray modifiers so paints need to be very balanced, highly pigmented, a consistent viscosity (not to soupy or too stiff), and ability for quicker drying times for plein aire painting.

The paints are highly pigmented, very balanced (example: mixing ultramarine blue and orange does cross the neutral gray area), good consistency, good viscosity, and the walnut/alkyd was a good drying medium for plein aire painting. 


# Darryl Nelson 2013-07-01 07:20
Hello. I am really enjoying your website, reading all your articles is helping me get a good jump-start on oils. I have purchased mostly M.Graham paints, and I also like them. I was concerned about odours with oils and thinners, and another solution I was told of is to use Gamsol 100% odourless mineral spirits to clean my brushes. It is great. Have you tried it?
I am actively working on my painting skills, as I need to change careers miid-life with three kids to feed. I have always been artistic but now get a chance to persue it more seriously. So thank you for all the free information, it helps a lot. I want to do landscapes in oil and watercolour, and plan to buy the same pallete you use as it looks great. I have started a website with my acrylics and watercolours so far, at m. Any criticism from someone such as yourself is greatly appreciated. I can't find oil primed linen in Canada. Will likely have to get it from the US.

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