You have chosen to use oil as the medium for your next painting. Oil has been known for being slow drying — giving artists additional time to refine an image before it dries.

Estimates of the drying time of oil range from 18 to 24 hours. But in case you don’t have the time, are there ways on how to make oil dry faster? How about exposing your painting to heat, for instance?

In this post, you’ll learn the right environment, materials and techniques, to shorten the long wait on your next work of art.

How to Make Oil Paint Dry Faster

Make your oil paint dry by leaving it to dry in an area with proper ventilation. You can achieve this by using a fan to help with air circulation. Since oil paint takes longer to dry, consider taking your project in a warm atmosphere. You should avoid extreme temperatures as they can cause damage.

What affects the drying time of an oil painting?

It’s great that we’re not helpless in making oil paints dry faster. There are two factors that contribute to the process:

Materials – our choice of oils and other materials (such as the surface we will paint on); the paint’s viscosity, the layers applied, and which brand you have used are also worth looking into.

Environment – a change in temperature or humidity.

Here are our tips for choosing the correct materials and in making the environment more conducive for oil paints to dry faster.

a)  Pigment

Pigments have varying drying times. This is due to the difference in the composition of the pigment.

To better appreciate this, we should understand that:

  • Oil paints are made of a pigment, oil and a binding agent mixed together,
  • Different pigments, binding agents and oils can be used; these three elements affect the drying time of paint.

Moreover, note that when oil paints dry, they do so not because of exposure to heat, but because of oxidation. This refers to absorption of oxygen.

Earth colors are the fastest to dry, with inorganic metal compounds at second. The slowest usually but not always, are the organics. Their speeds are related to how much oil is needed to create a mixture that is both firm and spreadable in order to manipulate and apply the paint. In general, paints with more oil are slower to dry.

Colors that dry quickly:  Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber. Cobalt colors,               

                                   Manganese colors

Colors that dry very slowly: Blacks such as lamp, carbon, charcoal and ivory, Zinc White, Vandyke brown, Vermilion, Alizarin Crimson, and Cadmium colors such as red, yellow, and green.

Related: Does paint dry darker or lighter?

b) Medium

A medium is a liquid that is added to your oil paint in order to change the performance of the oil paint in some way. Different mediums that you mix with the paint affect the drying time. Thus, a medium can either speed up or slow down the drying process.

This, you may need to experiment on the different mediums to get desired results. Here’s a rundown of mediums that make oil paint dry faster:

Turpentine– This acts as thinner for your oil paint and can clean paint brushes.

speeds up the drying time as it dilutes the paint and evaporates off of it. Choose Artist’s Turpentine and not your house turpentine, it’s more effective and your artwork will not turned yellow. This provides the best finish for your paint.

But a word of caution: Turpentine is flammable and emits vapors irritate the skin and eyes and damage the lungs.

Oil of Spike Lavender – stronger than turpentine, yet less toxic. Thus this is the best thinner for oil paints. This makes figures clearer, improves dispersion of particles and acts as an adhesive for the top layers of paint.

The only drawback is the strong scent of lavender. It may be too much too endure; and in closed spaces such as a studio, the smell will linger for at least a week.

Galkyd – will not only hasten your painting’s drying time, but also level your brush strokes as the painting surface becomes like enamel. Plus, it thins oil colors and increases transparency and gloss. Expect the thinner layers to dry after around 24 hours.

Alkyd resin – a product of the reaction of natural oil with a poly-functional alcohol and poly-basic acid. The first alkyd resin was Liquin, a medium known for being fast-drying. Like galkyd, expect your alkyd oil paints to be touch dry within 24 hours.

Yet, the alkyd paint remains wet longer than water-thinned paint. This means more freedom for artists to easily modify colors and images.

Alkyd resin’s strengths may also be its weaknesses. Some artists find that it dries too fast, and was too good at levelling brush strokes. It also gives off too much shine that the image looks like glass. And in case your liquin gets stock for a  long time, it tends to separate and run. 

c) The paint’s viscosity

Viscosity refers to the thickness of the paint. It is a measure of how much resistance the paint has when spreading.

What you need to remember is, the thicker the paint, the longer it takes to oxidize. In the same manner, when a coat is thicker, the longer it is for the solvent to evaporate.

d) Layers applied

This is where the fat over lean principle of painting comes in. In this you apply paint with a higher ratio of oil to color pigments over paint with a lower ratio of oil to color pigments.

One way to make the paint lean is to mix it with solvent, that will make the paint dry faster than the fat paint. This is because the solvents evaporate from the paint quickly.

Consider if you did this in reverse. If you put a lean, fast-frying paint over a layer that has more oil your bottom layer that will still be wet, while the top layer is already dry. When this happens, the top layer will crack as the paint below finishes curing and changes its dimension.

Besides this, you can factor in the change of color in the layers. As we have discussed, earth colors are the fastest to dry, followed by inorganic metal compounds, and then the organics.

e) Brand

Different brands produce different qualities on your painting. Note that some brands target beginners, those who wouldn’t be fixated on the quality. Others meanwhile cater to specific needs for a particular project.

Nonetheless, all brands use oil as the main ingredient. This holds true despite differences on the product formula and manufacturing process. Just be mindful on the oil medium being used by the brand, because this affects the paint’s drying time.

f)  Environment

Temperature, moisture, direct sunlight, humidity, and dust have an impact on your oil painting. Oil-based paint can be applied at temperatures between 40- 90 °F. It also dries at the same temperature range 40-90 °F. 

In terms of drying time, oil paints dry faster in warm environments. In contrast, cool air slows down drying. The ideal room temperature is at 70 °F, anything warmer is better as this will accelerate the drying process.

g) Paint’s age in the storeroom

Typically, paint that’s been in a storeroom for years will probably dry faster, especially if it didn’t have an airtight seal. Also, unlike other finishes, oil-based paints dry through oxidation, which might have begun before you received yours from the retail store. 

Besides drying quickly, you’ll notice that the paint is very stiff. However, if you buy a newer paint of the same type, you’ll realize that it’ll take longer to dry.

 Tips On Making Oil Dry Faster 

Unlike other fast-drying paints such as acrylic and watercolor, oil paints require a longer period to dry fully to the touch. 

Lucky for you, you can deploy one of the many techniques to reduce the drying time of your oil paints. Here are some of them;

a)      Select Faster Drying Pigments

It’s natural for certain pigments or colors to dry faster than others. So when using oil paints, settle for quick-drying colors, which still deliver the expected results. 

Another trick is toning your surface with a fast-drying pigment to help accelerate the drying time of the subsequent coats.

Fast-drying pigments include:

  • Burnt and Raw Sienna
  • Raw and Burnt Umber
  • Cobalt colors, including Cobalt Yellow, Genuine Aureolin, and Cobalt Blue
  • Prussian Blue
  • Chrome Red and Yellow
  • Manganese colors, including Manganese Blue, Manganese Black, and Manganese Violet
  • Colors containing lead, such as Lead White, Flake White, and Cremnitz White
  • Naples Yellow

Slow-drying pigments include:

  • Cadmium colors: they include red, green, and yellow, among others.
  • Black such as carbon, lamp, ivory, and charcoal
  • Vermilion
  • Zinc White
  • Alizarin Crimson 

b)      Choose The Right Oil Medium

For earth tones, I recommend using oil paints made from iron oxide. Certain oil medium dries faster than others. I prefer using earth tones whenever I wish to complete my painting within a short period.

Nevertheless, when choosing a painting medium, especially dryers, ensure they are compatible with your paint. For instance, many earth colors dry faster than other pigments.  

c)      Apply Oil Paint In Thin Layers

Oil paint works best when applied in layers. However, applying a thick first coat will increase the dry time of the subsequent coats. As a result, I recommend building your painting from the thinnest coat up to the thickest.  

Moreover, since oil paints dry through oxidation, applying a thicker layer will result in extended drying periods since the entire paint mass isn’t exposed to air. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to thin your oil paint. Although solvents are one of the more popular options, you could try different types of oils or dryers. However, using oil to thin the paint will extend the drying time rather than shorten it. 

d)      Use Oil Paints that Contain Linseed Oil Only

Linseed oil tends to dry faster compared to other oil types such as safflower, walnut, and poppy oil. As a result, mixing it with your oil paint will hasten the drying time of the project.

While most manufacturers incorporate linseed oil in their paints, some may use safflower oil. This is because linseed oil tends to yellow after drying, making it an unsuitable component for white paint or light-valued cool colors.

While other oil types, such as walnut, are more durable and produce high-quality paint, they don’t dry fast. Hence, it’s better to stick to paints that incorporate linseed oil.

e)      Use Acrylic Paint For The Initial Layers

While this process doesn’t necessarily accelerate the drying time of your oil paint, it can hasten the entire painting process. 

Instead of using slow-drying oils for the preliminary coats, acrylic paints tend to dry within a short period. This allows you to establish the correct color and value masses before using oil paint for your final layers. 

Another major perk of using acrylic paint for the initial layers is that it doesn’t result in dull spots, which are synonymous with most oil paints. 

Also, besides containing no oil, using acrylic allows your initial strokes to be thin. This helps you to adhere to the thick over thin rule. 

f)       Use Chemical Drying Agents

Use chemical drying agents such as Liquin and Galkyd to speed up the drying process of subsequent coats of paint. However, ensure that you strictly use it on the final coats only since such products contain petroleum distillates which may act as oil. 

Use the chemical dryers correctly by adding a small amount of the product into your paint before applying them onto your surface. 

With such drying agents, you can expect your thin paint layers to become tacky within an hour. 

On the other hand, thick coats might still take one to several days to fully dry to the touch.

Companies such as Gamblin manufacture different versions of Galkyd, which have different drying rates. Also, using Galkyd dries delivers a glossy finish to the paint. 

However, follow every instruction to the latter when using these products since they have varying toxicity levels.

If you’re looking for a non-toxic option, Walnut Alkyd by Graham is your best bet. Moreover, besides being non-toxic, walnut alkyd offers the fastest drying time compared to other dryers.

g)       Use Alkyd With Your Oil Paint

Alkyd paints are oil paints with a quick drying formula, similar to the walnut alkyd discussed before. While alkyds dry within one day, they aren’t as fast drying as acrylics. However, they allow you to mix and match them with other oil paints. 

You can also choose to do your painting entirely with alkyds. When painting with alkyds only, you can expect the paint to dry overnight, regardless of the thickness of the layers.

When mixing alkyd with other oil paints, a good strategy is to use it on slower drying colors such as cadmium and white. For other colors, stick to your regular oils.

If you plan on using alkyd paints with other painting mediums, particularly chemical drying agents, ensure that the mediums are compatible with the alkyd.

h)       Paint On An Absorbent Surface

Many artists aren’t aware that there is a wide range of surface options to paint on besides the universal-primed canvas. 

While using such canvas will favor beginner artists, they result in slower drying time, especially when using oil paint. 

Here are some more absorbent surfaces that promise faster drying of your painting:

  1. Alkyd-Primed Surfaces

Alkyd-primed surfaces have proved to be more absorbent than oil-primed or titanium-primed surfaces. So, although the paint doesn’t spread as easily as you’d want, it soaks in more and dries faster. 

  1. Gesso- primed surfaces

Gesso exists in two types. These types include traditional gesso and acrylic gesso. Traditional gesso, which is made from rabbit skin glue, has a brittle nature and is suitable for rigid surfaces. I recommend using it strictly on stiff materials such as wood panels.

Acrylic gesso is just an acrylic primer and not a true gesso. Yet, these surfaces are very absorbent and will result in faster drying of your paint.

i)        Let The Painting Dry At The Right Temperature

Typically, oil paints will dry quickly in warm temperatures. Allow the paint to dry at room temperature of at least 21 °C (70 °F). However, the warmer you can get the atmosphere, the better. 

During the drying process, use a thermostat to track the room’s temperature. Alternatively, you can place a digital thermometer next to your project and record the room temperature. 

While no temperature is too hot for oil paints, keep the room as warm as possible while minding your comfort.

J)        Expose Painting To Heat

Although it requires extra caution, using a heat gun can help your paintings dry faster by baking the oils. Exposing your painting to heat will speed up the drying process significantly. 

As a rule of thumb, the higher the heat, the shorter the drying time. Similarly, the opposite is also true. Cooler air tends to slow down the drying process. 

However, if there is too much heat, your paint may turn yellowish or start cracking. To achieve satisfying results, keep the heat gun to below 54 °C (130 °F)

When using the heat gun, hold it at a small distance away from the painting and move it around slowly to allow the heat to penetrate the paint layers. 

Also, mind the nozzle of the heat gun since they tend to get hot. Finally, avoid contact with your hands or the painting.

A simpler alternative to heat guns is placing your painting in a window on a sunny day. The heat and light of the sun will work together to reduce the drying time. 

You can also adjust your thermostat to a higher temperature during the day or overnight.

While there are several other heating methods you can experiment with, be certain that you don’t go overboard and cause a hazard. Besides risking ruining your painting with fire, you might accidentally burn down your studio or house. 

FAQs

How to dry oil paint overnight

Using a quick-drying medium is the best way to dry oil paint overnight. It will speed up the drying time of your oil paint so that it is dry to touch within 24 hours. 

Examples of mediums you can use include linseed oil, galkyd, walnut alkyd medium, and liquin, so be sure to choose one that is compatible with your type of paint and painting style. 

Does oil paint dry fast?

No, oil paint does not dry particularly fast. In fact, you have to be pretty patient when waiting for it to dry completely. Depending on the layer thickness, drying times can range from several hours to a few days.

Do oil paints dry?

Yes, oil paints dry. They become dry to touch within 2-12 days and are fully cured within a month. The time it takes for oil paints to achieve full cure varies depending on the paint’s ingredients and the environmental conditions in which it is applied.

What makes oil paint dry faster?

A box fan or a ceiling fan, and a low or medium setting can make oil paint dry faster. They circulate the air and speed up the drying process. You can also paint in thin layers as well as make sure the paint is completely dry before you add another layer. Adding new paint on top of wet paint will slow down the drying process.

How to dry oil paint on canvas

One way you can dry pain on canvas is by increasing the temperature of the environment the paint is drying. You can also blow the back of the canvas using a hair drier. Do not blow the front as it can overheat and cause cracking on the paint. Finally, you can use a dehumidifier to lower humidity. 

How do oil paints dry?

Oil paints dry through a process of oxidation. This means that the oil paint is exposed to the air, and as it reacts with the oxygen in the air, it dries. The drying process can take a while, depending on the type of oil paint and the climate where you are painting. 

How long does oil paint take to dry?

Oil paint takes up to 24 hours to dry completely. The specific timeframe depends on the type of paint, the ambient temperature and humidity levels, and how thickly the paint has been applied. Generally speaking, though, you can expect most oil-based paints to be dry to the touch within 6-8 hours and fully cured after 24 hours.

How to make oil paint dry faster on wood

Work in a well-ventilated room with plenty of air circulation to make oil paint dry faster on wood. Second, try to keep the room warm because oil paint dries much faster when it’s warm. And finally, use a drying agent such as linseed oil or turpentine to help speed up the process.

What is the fastest way to dry oil paint?

The quickest way to dry oil paint is to add a drying agent, such as linseed oil. You can add it to the paint while it’s still wet, or it can be mixed in with the paintbrush when you’re painting. Just be sure cautious when using a chemical drier, as they can produce harmful fumes.

Can you dry oil paint with a hair dryer?

Yes, you can dry oil paint with a hair dryer, but it doesn’t work very well. The heat from the hair dryer can actually cause the paint to start cracking and peeling. It’s better to just let oil paints air dry, which can take several days or even weeks.

Why does oil paint take so long to dry?

Oil paint is often applied in multiple and heavy layers. This means that each layer needs time to properly dry before another layer can be applied on top. Secondly, oil paint dries slower than other types of paint because the drying process is reliant on oxygen exposure. 

Does oil paint dry faster in heat or cold?

Oil paints typically dry faster in a warm atmosphere, as the heat speeds up the evaporation of the solvent within the paint. However, if it is too hot, the paint can actually become sticky or gummy. So it’s important to find a happy medium! 

Conclusion 

To make your oil paintings dry faster, it’s important to understand what factors affect the drying time. By taking into account things like the environment and type of paint you are using, you can make small changes that will have a big impact on how quickly your painting dries. 

If you want to take things a step further, there are also products available that can help speed up the drying process.  With a little bit of knowledge and some simple tweaks, you can get your oil paintings dried in no time!

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