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How to paint with essential oils

How to paint with essential oils, it all started with one tiny little bottle of Patchouli. A friend introduced me to the beautiful world of essential oils a few years ago, and I became hooked not just to the smell but the benefits they bring to my paintings. So how do I use them in the oil paintings?

Fennel essential oil

Essential oils are the blood of plants, trees, and flowers. They have been used throughout history to treat diseases in the human body and our animals. They are also used as perfume and often found in cosmetics. Some oil such as Lavender is an all-time favorite for relaxing and soothing the nervous system and being a powerful antiseptic. Lavender oil balances both the physical and emotional systems of the body and is an excellent oil to introduce to animals.

I use any of the oils I have available and sometimes prefer to use a blended oil rather than a single. A blended oil is an essential oil that has been distilled and blended with other oils to create a unique smell. A single oil has not been mixed with another oil and has been simply distilled from the flower such as Pataouchli. There is no right or wrong oil and is a very personal journey a bit like perfume however some oils do specifically have medical benefits.

Less is more when using essential oils

I use the oils in my paintings to enhance my emotions when painting. I mix the oils into and onto the canvas or linen. If you use pure oil and a reputable company, there will be no issues with staining or interfering with the oil color. It’s only a few drops that I use in the layers. Less is more when using essential oils. So what does this do? The vital oils radiate and transmit silently and invisibly into the atmosphere. This creates a unique smell, and the subconscious mind reacts to the scent. Ancient cultures used essential oils to create an aromatic atmosphere and perfume. They recognized that the oils were stimulators, and the Egyptian temples were frequently dosed with the oils to promote and enhance their sacred rituals and religious ceremonies.

Essential oils can change your mood and frame of mind as well as promoting healing. Most of my paintings stem from the association of positive words. I draw words such as Abundance, Joy, Love, Success turning these ideas into images. What does Abundance look like? What colors does Joy represent? To reinforce these words and associations, I use essential oils. Many of the oils, especially the tree, woody types, bring me closer to nature, and sometimes if I am diffusing Cypress or Copiba, I feel I am one with the trees walking in nature.

How to paint with essential oils

Some of the oils bring me closer to nature especially the tree singles such as Cypress

Coincidently I found some essential oils that are blends titled with the exact words such as Joy and Clarity. These oils produce magnetic energies that bring Joy and Clarity to the physical and mental realms. Using these oil blends in conjunction with my paintings enhances my present moment experience and brings an added dimension to the process of painting. The finished result of the picture benefits from the oils as it has been created with the positive associations of trees, plants, and flowers.

How to paint with essential oils

Lavender has so many benefits not just its relaxing smell

I also diffuse oils while painting, providing droplets of oil into the air producing negative ions. Many singles and blended oils work well, eliminating odors and killing airborne germs and bacteria. Research has proved that diffused oils stimulate and help improve concentration, alertness, and mental clarity. This all provides extra sensory awareness while I am painting, and of course, the oils are emitting a beautiful fragrance.

When I start a painting, I will usually diffuse about 5-8 drops of the chosen oil in a water-based diffuser, running this for around 15 minutes once an hour. The evaporated water quickly transmits into the atmosphere, creating a subtle yet powerful lingering fragrance. It is a bit ceremonial and a process that helps me to clear my mind before I paint and ensures that I am calm and relaxed while painting. Once the diffuser has stopped, I will add a few drops of my chosen oil onto the image. If I am painting a dream landscape, I will reach for a blend that awakens creative thoughts and enhances dreams and visualizations while protecting me from negative thoughts. The single oils would be Sandalwood, Orange, Jasmine, Rose, Grapefruit, and Lavender.

The best way to start with essential oils is around your home in a diffuser or directly onto your skin with a carrier oil. Finding your personal favorite is an exciting journey that will change as you discover a whole world of flowers, trees, and plants, and don’t forget your animals love them too!


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