Waiting for oil paint to dry can be one of the most frustrating parts of a painting. For starters, waiting on that bottom layer to dry before applying another coat is aggravating and time-consuming. This means that your schedule will need to be flexible enough for long periods of creative downtime if you want to create art regularly.
So, how do you make oil paint dry faster? One of the best ways of drying oil paint is by using stand oil or linseed oil. As soon as you apply the oil paint, put a thin coat of one of these on the top of it. Reapply more coats as necessary – the more coats applied, the faster it will dry.
Alternatively, you can also add a drop or two of turpentine to speed up drying time with this method. However, be warned that this will also make your work more fragile.
Keep reading to discover even more tips and tricks for getting quick results!
How Long Does Oil Paint Take To Dry?
Generally, oil colors become touch dry within 2-12 days, but different reactions of pigments when mixed with oils lead to varying drying times.
Furthermore, the actual drying time varies depending on a number of factors:
The Surrounding Environment
The local temperature and light can have an impact on how quickly paint dries. When you work with oils, the environment is everything. The paint gets easily damaged if left out in heat and sunlight or even exposed to dirt without a protective layer of varnish before it dries.
The color of your paint can impact the time it takes to dry. Some pigments are naturally thicker and tend to take more than a day before they’re ready for use again. Still, if you maintain coverage without over-saturating an area with pigment or creating mottling in tone, then all should be well within 24 hours.
Brands Matter Too
As with any product, the company that manufactures it will usually be a good indicator of its quality. Some companies offer more entry-level paints than others which may not be as high quality as those produced by professional manufacturers.
This is why reading reviews from other people who have used or are currently using the paint medium can help you make an educated decision about what kind you should buy next time.
Individual Painting Technique
Another factor that influences how long an oil painting takes to cure properly is the texture. Heavy brush strokes should wait several days, if not weeks.
However, other surfaces allow you to continue adding even after just one day’s worth of curing time. It also depends on what you choose between matte or glossy finishes. Moreover, this also affects how long they need to set up before being ready for framing.
Tips & Tricks to Dry Oil Paints Faster
Have a look at these techniques to dry the paint quickly.
1. Choose a Well-Ventilated Area For Painting
Paint in a dry and ventilated area to make the paint dry faster. Oil paint dries through oxidation, which causes it to harden and not become water-soluble as acrylics do. Acrylics are likely to go from wet or moist colors into dried pigments that can be washed away with mild soap and warm water.
Furthermore, exposure to natural light is also said to help with this. Similarly, opening windows and running fans are good ways of speeding things along – as long as it’s not humid outside. In addition, constant circulation helps chemicals change faster so that your work dries more quickly for you.
If you decide to use ceiling fans, be sure any dust has been removed from their blades before turning them back on. This way, no harmful particles are circulated into the air by those big spinning rotors.
2. Let The Painting Dry In Heat
Exposing your painting to heat is one of the best ways out. However, you have to be cautious while doing this. The hotter the air around your artwork, the faster it will dry – and this is not just for paintings in need of a quick touch-up. But make sure you expose them to heat gradually, or else they might warp!
One way to heat up your painting is by sticking it in a window on a warm, sunny day. The light of the sun and warmth will speed up the process. Another option is setting the thermostat to high overnight while you sleep or during the daytime if hot temperatures suit you.
If you’re considering using any kind of heating technique for your painting, be sure to keep it safe and avoid going overboard. It’s best not to ruin a great piece or burn down the studio–better wait out those few days.
3. Apply Thin Layers Of Paint
Thicker paint takes longer to dry, resulting from the oxidation process that changes its chemistry when it’s exposed to air. Also, this happens through thicker applications because not all parts of the painting are equally exposed by a layer of pigment on top.
If your paint isn’t thin enough, you can make it on your own, as there are many ways to thin out oil paint. Solvents, oils, and dryers are the most popular methods. Still, you can also use different techniques, such as scrubbing aggressively onto a canvas with a bristle brush without using any solvents or oils (AKA tube consistency).
Understand that it will extend drying time rather than shorten it if you thin your paints with an oil-based product. When painting with thin layers, always make sure the first layer is the lightest and has the most negligible oil content. This prevents your paintings from cracking or ghosting because it follows a simple principle: fat over lean.
4. You Can Use Dryers Like Galkyd or Liquin
Chemical drying agents such as Galkyd, made by Gamblin, or Liquin can be used to speed up the drying of subsequent layers. However, these products and others like them are petroleum-based, which means they must follow the fat over lean principle mentioned above for maximum efficiency.
Always be sure to follow the instructions when using Galkyd since it can have some toxicity. Different rates of drying will depend on whether you want a thin layer or thick strokes. This is why Gamblin makes several different versions, and they generally give your paint an extra glossy finish.
It’s essential to clean your brushes after using any chemical drying agents. Leaving the brush with a dried-out product will ruin it and make it unusable. If you end up in this situation, try Turpenoid Natural for cleaning and restoring its quality to new.
5. Use Paints That Contain Linseed Oil
Linseed oil dries faster than safflower and walnut oils, with poppy drying the slowest. This renders linseed a popular choice as it is compatible with most paints due to its longevity. However, some may use other types of oils depending on what color they need for their work. This further affects how long it will take that paint to dry.
Some manufacturers may use walnut oil or even safflower oil in some or all of their pigments. So if you’re looking to speed up the drying process on your painting, consider avoiding paints with either safflower, poppy seeds (a common addition), or walnuts.
6. Include Alkyd Paint In The Process
Painting with alkyds is a great way to get creative and explore colors, mixed media, or new techniques. This means you don’t have to choose between one medium and another; it’s an excellent option for those who want versatility in their work.
Alkyd paints are just quick-dry oil paintings that mix well with other paint types. While not as fast drying, they still dry within a day and can be used in an entire picture or on top of a different paint to achieve different looks.
Tip: This tip is for all those who love to mix and match but need their paintings to dry quickly. Use alkyds when using fast-drying paints like whites or cadmium, or use regular oils with the rest of them while painting trips or in a studio setting. This will let everything dry at relatively the same speed because it can be tricky if some colors don’t finish drying before others.
7. Use Oil Paints With Certain Pigments
Earth colors are often made from iron oxides which dry up to several days faster than other pigments. Ivory black and cadmium paints tend to take a lot of time on top of that. Therefore, avoid using these as much as possible in your artwork if you’re working with earth-toned concealers.
Likewise, using cobalt and lead paints can help your painting dry quicker. These pigments are known for drying quickly, which means you’ll spend less time waiting to touch upon detail work.
We are sure you have any more questions regarding oil paints drying quicker and other factors affecting them. Therefore, we have covered these queries in the following section.
Does Oil Paint Dry Faster In Heat Or Cold?
Oil paint dries faster in heat. This is because the temperature affects how quickly solvents evaporate. The more water evaporates from oil paint, the less dense the substance becomes, and so it can dry faster.
To elaborate, oil-based paints contain many natural oils that start to dry on their own once exposed to air. When an environment with high temperatures comes into contact with oil pigment, the molecules begin to break down and evaporate quicker than they would if subjected to colder conditions.
Furthermore, oil paints are made up of linseed oil and other drying oils like poppy seed oil or safflower oils with very low viscosity. Moreover, this makes them susceptible to speed up drying when exposed to heat.
On the other hand, in cold weather, the consistency of the oil paint becomes more viscous, and surface tension is reduced. Consequently, it remains on the surface longer when exposed to environmental humidity, which slows drying.
Does Oil Paint Dry Faster In The Sun?
Yes, oil paint dries faster in the sun.
The drying of the moisture in oil paint can be controlled by air humidity but also depends on sun exposure. Therefore, another effective way to dry oil paints quickly is to keep the painting in direct sunlight for a few hours. Sun won’t damage the paint layers but will help it speed up drying time by exposing them directly to natural light and heat.
Moreover, when moisture evaporates, that leaves behind a dry film of oil and pigment on your brush or the canvas.
Will Oil Paint Dry Faster With A Hair Dryer?
It might be nice to think about drying your oil paints with a hairdryer, but it just won’t work. Oil paint is made of oils and resins, which means they don’t evaporate from water, so the heat from the hairdryer will only cause them to crack or liquefy in some areas.
The hairdryer may work a little bit as the heat will increase the temperature, and oxidation reactions happen faster, which means that it’ll help with drying time. However, this would not be enough to make much of an impact on how long it takes for your painting to dry out completely.
Apart from this, the hairdryer may be speeding up the evaporation of mineral spirits and paint thinners, leading to a release of hazardous fumes. This is all because your hairdryer can make these substances evaporate faster.
Do Sprays Make Oil Paint Dry Faster?
Sprays are not known for speeding up the drying process, as they don’t contain the ingredients necessary for drying. They do have a potent fuel in them, which will make it seem like the paint has dried more because it’s evaporating off your painting.
You can use spray sometimes to help reduce the drying time if you are impatient but note that it also reduces the shelf life.
Why Do Different Oil Paint Colors Have A Different Drying Time?
The color of the paint affects how long it takes your painting to dry. Different colors have different drying times, which is influenced by what pigment or binding agent was used to make that specific type of oil paint.
Some paints dry fast. The earthy browns, for example, can take less than a day to set if applied thinly on the surface. Raw umber is one of these types of paint, and it’s perfect in every way.
Raw umber is a pigment that also contains an oxidizing agent found in manganese which helps speed up the drying time of this particular color as its oxidation reaction happens much faster.
Also, it is commonly used for under-painting sketches and block-ins because it dries almost instantly compared to other paints like alizarin crimson or Prussian blue.
Some other fast-drying colors include burnt umber, cobalt blue, raw sienna, and burnt sienna.
Do you know which colors take the longest time to dry? The paints that take the longest to dry are reds such as cadmium and alizarin, yellows like cadmium yellow or Naples yellow. In the black category, these are ivory black, lamp black, and Mars black. Titanium white also takes a lot of time to dry.
Are There Any Other Tips To Consider?
If you’re looking for even more information on oil painting and how to let it dry faster, here’s a great visual tutorial from Mandy Keay on YouTube.
Up Next: What Are Wet On Wet Oil Paintings?