For more than five hundred years linseed oil has been the most
important binder for oil paint. Linseed oil is pressed from the
seed of the flax plant. Linseed as binder for oil paint has proven
to have the best properties. Other drying oils give a less durable
layer of paint, can darken considerably or take far too long to
dry. There is unfortunately no oil that is optimal for every
desired property; however, linseed oil has proven throughout the
centuries to have the best combination of properties.
As linseed oil shows some yellowing in time, some artists prefer
to replace it with safflower oil, particularly for white paint.