Of the many drying oils you can keep in your arsenal, poppy oil is an excellent, versatile choice. Extracted from poppy seed, this slick medium can improve the performance of oil paint by increasing its flow, enhancing its glossiness, and adjusting viscosity to an ideal consistency. This pale, semi-drying oil does take longer to dry than linseed oil, but it is also less susceptible to yellowing. This makes it particularly well suited for use with pale colors or whites. Whether you’re interested in trying poppy oil for the first time or are searching for a different brand, our picks below will help you find the best product for your studio.
1. Grumbacher Poppyseed Oil Medium
Grumbacher’s oil is a purified, smooth, high-quality oil that comes in a good-size bottle. Its cleanness is immediately evident from the clarity of the liquid, which effectively prevents pigments from yellowing. Not only does this oil retard the drying rate of your paint, improve the flow of colors, and even out brushstrokes, but it also gives your paint a really nice shine.
2. Old Holland Refined Poppy Oil
Old Holland’s poppy oil is just as good as Grumbacher’s product, but it is slightly more expensive. The liquid is made from the first pressing of poppy seeds, then refined to further minimize yellowing over time. The result is highly viscous, with just a small amount necessary to increase the fluidity of paint (it can be easy to over-dispense) and impart a silky, almost buttery smoothness.
3. Gamblin Poppy Oil
A good-quality student-grade (or budget-friendly) oil, this product effectively retards the drying rate of paint while imparting a satisfying flow and gloss. Colors still look fresh even after being worked with for a long time, and the oil allows artists to easily remove brushstrokes. We like that it comes in a large bottle, but it is slightly yellowish, suggesting a lower level of purity than you’ll find in our other picks. This means your paintings might experience some tinting over time.
4. Winsor & Newton Drying Poppy Oil
Most poppy oils lengthen the drying rate of your paintings, but Winsor & Newton’s product does the opposite. Like the competition, it effectively increases gloss, maintains color control, and thins paints to make them flow consistently, but this formula is enhanced with siccatives so you can work a bit more quickly. It’s a particularly helpful oil for artists who love to layer, allowing you to progress more steadily.
5. Holbein Sun Thickened Poppy Oil
Holbein’s product a pricey, but its performance is well worth the investment. This oil is the result of a traditional, lengthy process that involves exposing condensed poppy oil to the sun and oxygen, which renders it extremely pure but also thick. This makes its body quite different from that of regular drying oils, but with some practice you’ll be ready to make this your go-to choice. It offers superb protection to pigments, enhances sheen, and dries with a crystal-clear finish.