Why Oil Paint Won’t Dry? (4 Ways To Speed Up Drying Time)

Making an art piece using oil paint creates beautiful results. It helps you achieve luminous and heavy-duty colors which make it last longer and durable. It is extremely blendable which can help you create beautiful colors.

Oil pain is a type of paint that can also be left open for long periods of time and you don’t even have to worry about it drying up.

It dries slowly, which is an advantage for some artists since it gives them more time to work with their artworks and allows them to make changes when they want.

Long Drying Time Can Be Both An Advantage And A Disadvantage

An artist is provided time to manipulate the oil paint on the canvas before it dries completely. However, advantages like these can also be a disadvantages for some people – especially for artists that have a tight deadline and schedule that they might need to follow.

A slow drying paint can cause possible accidents where an artist might blend colors that they weren’t planning to combine in the first place. This can also be harder to proceed to the next stage of painting when an artist is planning to add another layer or use another medium.

With the wet surface, precautionary measures should be placed upon the painting to make sure that nothing will make contact with the wet surface like dust that may ruin the painting.

So, now you know that oil painting has its advantages and disadvantages, understanding the reason why oil paints take longer to dry and what are the things you can do to rectify the problem is a way to go around the disadvantages of using oil paints for your creations. 

Top Reasons For Oil Paint Taking A Longer Time To Dry

Oil painting does eventually dry, it just takes a long time to. The reason being it does not go through the process of drying in the same way water does. Water evaporates. This is not the case with oils. Oil dry through a chemical process when it is exposed to oxygen.

When the oil paint is exposed to air, oils do not necessarily undergo the same process of evaporation like water does. Instead, it hardens to a solid film after some time of exposure to air or undergoes the process of oxidation.

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So, the drying time will depend. Aside from the long process of oxidation, there are several factors that can influence the drying time of the oil paints.

By knowing this, you can figure out how to manipulate the drying time to make it dry a little bit faster.

Here are some key factors that influence drying time.

  • Different pigment colors can have different drying times.
  • Brand and quality can have an impact on drying time.
  • Not all oils take the same time to dry.

Oil paint does not necessarily have a fixed drying time since it depends on several factors, One is the surrounding environment which can either be the local temperature in your area, light, wind and other factors. Some pigment colors also dry faster compared to the others.

The brand of the oil paint used and the quality of the pigments also is a factor that will decide on how long your paint will dry.

There are also a variety of oils that also have different drying periods. The fasting drying paints are linseed oil and alkyds. Safflower oil has a moderate drying time and poppyseed oil dries the slowest. However, in oil painting, linseed oil is the most commonly used and poppyseed oil can be used for keeping your brushes wet during painting sessions.

How To Speed Up Oil Paint Drying Time?

Knowing all of these factors that can affect the oil painting´s drying time, there are several ideas and tricks you can use to speed up the drying time.

Keep in mind that oil paints might take months to dry depending on the medium you used and the layers you applied so you must wait for it to fully dry before you apply a layer of varnish over it.

There are many things an artist can do to make sure that the oil paints they are using will only take hours to dry instead of weeks. However, no matter what an artist does to ensure that the oil paints dry faster, they have to make sure that they allow at least a few hours before adding another layer of paint over an existing layer.

There is no way you can be able to harden and dry your paintings instantly but there are ways you can do to help lessen the waiting time.

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Drying Mediums And Thickness Of Layers

The first thing you can do to help your oil paint dry faster is to use a drying medium. There are several mediums you can use for painting using oil paint. There are a variety of products available and it is best to research and know more about the medium to ensure that it will work well with your art style and preference before you start using it.

When using these types of medium, always pay attention particularly to the instructions on how to use located on the container label.

Some of these mediums are obviously hazardous and should always be handled with precautionary measures and great care.

Alkyd is an alternative medium for using oil-based paint. This is a synthetic made medium that dries faster than oil mediums but is significantly slower than acrylic paints while still having some of the benefits you can get when you are using an oil-based painting medium. You can use a lead or a cobalt drier that is used to speed the curing time for drying oils.

Painting In Certain Environments Will Have An Effect On The Drying Time

Thinning the paint by mixing turpentine can also help make it dry faster especially when working on base coats. Aside from using drying mediums, the environment where you are currently painting or drying can also affect the drying time of the paints.

Make sure that the room you placed your painting is a well ventilated, non-humid room which can help make the oxidization process faster.

You can also use a dehumidifier to get rid of the humidity or a fan. Placing it in a well-lit room also contributes to reducing the time for drying.

Painting in thin layers and avoiding thick impastos on your layers dries faster as well. There are some rules you need to remember when it comes to oil painting to avoid your paint from cracking.

First is the fat over lean rule, which means you want to make sure that the top layer or the last layer of paint contains more fat (oil) than the layers below.

If this is not allowed, the top layer will dry faster and the layers below it will eventually crack. The thick over thin rule basically states the same where you want to make sure that the top layer has to dry last to avoid cracking, so painting the top layer thicker than the ones under will ensure that.

Visible brushwork in painting is a beautiful element and can be achieved by applying thick paint. Remember that this rule does not apply to the alla prima or wet on wet technique and is only applicable to the traditional painting approach. Knowing the basic rules in oil painting, remember to always start with a thinner layer and gradually thicken to decrease the drying time as well.

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Pigment And Brands Of Oil Paint Matter More Than You Might Think

The pigment and brands of oil paint used can also affect the drying time of oil paints. Like how ivory black and titanium white usually dries slowly while lead white and burnt umber harden and dries at a faster rate.

You can also combine thickened linseed oil with oil paints on your palette, which can help speed up the drying process but it will usually depend on the brand you use so make sure to test the paints before starting.

Some artists use acrylic paints for their background to cut off the waiting time for the groundwork to dry. They also like the contrast between acrylic and oil paints. You should also paint on flat surfaces.

Oil paints on textured canvas take longer to dry since the paints fill the crevices of the canvas. Using a flat surface can help you ensure that the paint is evenly dispersed which can help the paint dry faster. 

There are a lot of techniques you can do to speed up the drying process when using oil paints. To speed up the process even faster, use a combination of these different techniques. Experiment on what works best for you and your preference and you will find that the drying time no longer puts you at a disadvantage.

Do not allow the slow drying of oil paints to stop you from creating and producing beautiful art pieces.

What To Do After You Finished Painting

After creating a beautiful masterpiece there are some things you can do while waiting for the paint to dry. First is you have to consider if it is actually finished and you are certainly contented with the work you have done.

When you think there are some details you want to improve on, then it is certainly a good thing that you used oil-based paint because you can alter and add any changes you want.

Knowing when to stop and be happy with your work takes skill. Place it in a visible place where you can look at the painting from different perspectives and then wait. If you are happy and contented, then consider it as a job well done.

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