Like every oil painter, I love the experience of the medium – its buttery nature and smooth blendability, and the contrast of dilution and opacity. Oils are such a pleasure to use and experimenting with them in any way is always exciting. As a minimal-palette kind of painter, I was excited to put Winsor & Newton’s new Cadmium-Free paints to the test. I love the vibrancy and potency of these colours so I was interested to see how they held up. For some reason, I was worried they might smell different to my other oils – I do love the smell of oil paint! I’m glad to tell you, I couldn’t tell the difference.

A warm selection of Winsor & Newton Cadmium-Free Artist Oil colours

Creamy texture The paints have the heavy-bodied, creamy texture you would expect. They’re highly pigmented so stretch and dilute beautifully to a rich, transparent glow. I usually use a different brand of oils and find that I normally have to do a fair bit of adjusting to achieve exact colour mixes when I switch. I was therefore pleasantly surprised with these, as mixing remained a relatively easy process. The potency of colour seemed similar across the range, making for the quick colour decisions necessary in my plein-air work. I decided that the best subject for the selection of colours I received would be some of the last flowers from the garden – a mix of purple verbena, vibrant orange and yellow nasturtium and a beautifully cool pink climbing rose. I love to paint contrejour, as it gives me the chance to use unadulterated, opaque pure colour against subtle, complementary greys – perfect for this test. As ever, I used only a couple of brushes, wiping and washing in solvent between each mix. I don’t pre-mix, as I feel I see and understand the colours of a subject better the more I study it; this approach requires quick cleaning and mixing throughout a painting. I actually found these paints easier to clean than others I use.

Sunset from Kinder, Winsor & Newton Cadmium-Free Artists’ Oil Colour, (20x30cm)

Yellows compared

In all honesty, I can’t really tell the difference between cadmium and Cadmium-Free. I dug out my two other Artist-quality cadmium yellow brands to compare the Winsor & Newton Cadmium-Free yellow. The only real distinction I noticed was a slightly altered hue between all three, which is to be expected. The Cadmium-Free version, on the right-hand side of the picture, has the same strong pigment and vibrancy. Mixing it with other colours produced predictable results. These colours were a joy to use and the Cadmium-Free green pale and Cadmium-Free orange work so beautifully together that I don’t think I can bear to be without them! Winsor & Newton Cadmium-Free Artists' Oils are available from all good art materials stockists.

Demonstration: Last of the Garden Flowers

The reference photo for this demonstration