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How to get oil paint to dry quickly

The joy and the curse of oil paint is how long it takes to dry. It’s great to have lots of time to work with the paint, re-do mis­takes, and get those gra­di­ents and edges just right. But then, in multi-layered paint­ing, there are times where you just need to stop and let the paint dry. For days. It can be very dis­rup­tive to artis­tic momentum.

Some painters are fine with let­ting paint­ings dry for days or even weeks. They work on more than one piece at a time and come back to each one when it’s ready. But some­times you want stay with one piece, work­ing every day. Here are some ways to con­trol the rate at which oil paint­ings dry:

  • Paint in thin lay­ers (like the thick­ness of a nor­mal coat of house paint).
  • Avoid slow-drying pig­ments like tita­nium white and ivory black. Use fast-drying pig­ments like lead white and burnt umber.
  • Use paints ground in lin­seed oil. Avoid paints made with slow-drying oils like saf­flower and poppy. Also avoid wal­nut oil, which dries faster than saf­flower or poppy, but slower than linseed.
  • Use a lean lead-containing medium such as Maroger’s (in very small amounts).
  • Add a bit of sol­vent to the first layer. Sprits of tur­pen­tine and oil of spike inter­act chem­i­cally with the paint, caus­ing it to take up oxy­gen more rapidly and dry faster. Min­eral spir­its do not react in any sig­nif­i­cant way, but all sol­vents will make the paint layer thin­ner, which does make paint dry faster. Don’t add so much sol­vent to paint that it becomes washy or watery. Just add a lit­tle bit.
  • Paint on a panel primed with glue-chalk gesso. The first layer will have some oil absorbed by the gesso, so the paint dries more quickly.
  • Add small amounts of metal­lic dri­ers to the paint. I pre­fer lead napthen­ate. I add one tiny drop (from a tooth­pick) per blob of paint on the palette and mix thor­oughly. Exces­sive use of dri­ers will dam­age the paint film, but that much should not be any prob­lem. I gen­er­ally add dri­ers only to slow-drying pigments.
  • Paint on a cop­per panel. The first layer of your paint­ing will dry more quickly.

Some painters also use alkyd medi­ums such as Liquin, Neo-Meglip, and Galkyd. I don’t use alkyd medi­ums and I don’t rec­om­mend them. How­ever, they do make oil paint dry faster.

When I need to, I can get oil paint dry in a day, so I don’t usu­ally have to wait for a layer to dry before I can paint over it. Some­times, I choose to use a medium that makes the paint dry more slowly, or I use a slow-drying pig­ment like tita­nium white. But when I do that, I know that the paint will need extra time to dry. My glaz­ing medium (a 50/50 mix­ture of black oil and Venice tur­pen­tine) is some­what slow-drying, so glazes usu­ally take two or three days to dry.

It’s also the case that I often com­plete one sec­tion of a paint­ing at a time. That way, it doesn’t mat­ter whether yesterday’s paint is dry, because today I’m work­ing on a dif­fer­ent part of the picture.


Updates

Update 22 Feb­ru­ary 2007: In a com­ment on this post, Louis R. Velasquez pointed out to me that some sol­vents do cause oil paints to dry more quickly via chem­i­cal action. I have cor­rected the infor­ma­tion in this post. I am grate­ful to Louis for point­ing out my error.

Update 19 Feb­ru­ary 2008: Added paint­ing on cop­per pan­els as another way to make oil paint dry more quickly.


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58 Responses

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  1. TK says

    Hi David,

    I really enjoy your blog, and your will­ing­ness to share your exten­sive knowl­edge. I wanted to ask you just how big a blob of paint for that drop of lead? I put 10 drops (Stu­dio Prod­ucts own prod­uct drop­per bot­tle) in an ounce of medium, which I use con­sis­tently but spar­ingly (cur­rently = parts Stand, Venice, Wal­nut oil and + 2 parts Spike), and dry­ing is sat­is­fac­tory. I also add a cou­ple drops per fat inch of white from a BIG tube.
    Does that sound “sound”?
    I’d love to hear from you, I enjoy your post­ing on Wet can­vas and you could PM me there or answer here.
    All best wishes,
    TK

  2. David says

    TK,

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you find the weblog helpful.

    The answer to your ques­tion about dri­ers is: I don’t know for sure. I’m not a paint chemist. My approach has always been to use as lit­tle drier as pos­si­ble to get the effect I need. Usu­ally, I don’t need to add any, since I paint thinly and don’t use a lot of slow-drying pig­ments. When I do use lead napthen­ate, I add it only to slow-drying pig­ments like tita­nium white and ivory black. I add a very small drop, from a tooth­pick, to about a half inch of paint squeezed from a 40 ml tube.

    I don’t know if my approach is bet­ter than yours. It seems like I’m a lit­tle more con­ser­v­a­tive than you, although there are oth­ers who would say that nei­ther of us should use any dri­ers, ever. Oth­ers say that pretty much any amount of lead is just fine. My best under­stand­ing (which is far from per­fect) indi­cates that a small amount of lead is no dan­ger to the paint film, but a lot is prob­a­bly bad. I don’t have any rea­son to tell you to stop doing what you are doing now.

    I hope that’s not too much weasel­ing on my part, but I don’t want you to think that I have exper­tise or cre­den­tials that I don’t possess.

    • Z says

      hello my child has a project which he painted in oil paint, I didnt realise how long it would take to dry, the last cou­ple of days i’ve left his model on the radiator/heater. is this a bad idea, doesnt seem to be dry­ing any quicker, am i effec­tiv­ley ‘melt­ing’ the oil paint by doing this?
      thanks

      • David says

        Z,

        I’d remove it from the radi­a­tor and let it dry at nor­mal room tem­per­a­ture. But it will likely be OK.

  3. Louis R. Velasquez says

    Hi David, I will intro­duce myself to your read­ers (again) as the author of the new book titled, ” Oil Paint­ing with ’ Cal­cite Sun Oil’: Safety and Per­ma­nence with­out Haz­ardous Sol­vents, Resins, Var­nishes and Driers…and i will address the issues in your arti­cle titled, “How to get oil paint to dry quickly”.

    Yes, the curse of oil paint­ing of ’ slow dry­ing’ is also its main advan­tage, allow­ing blend­ing, etc.. But artists can con­trol the dry­ing to their advan­tage with­out using/adding ANY sol­vents or dry­ers or nat­ural or syn­thetic resins to their paint. Here are my com­ments on the sug­ges­tions you rec­om­mend in your arti­cle ( your sug­ges­tions are directly from your arti­cle and are num­bered… my com­ments are pre­ceded with an * ).

    1. Paint in thin lay­ers (like the thick­ness of a nor­mal coat of house paint).

      • Yes. In the clas­si­cal tech­nique, in the lower layer, one must paint in thin paint layers.Thin paint (vs thick paint) dries quicker.
    2. Avoid slow-drying pig­ments like tita­nium white and ivory black. Use fast-drying pig­ments like lead white and burnt umber.

      • Today, there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for using any poi­so­nous pig­ments, period. With the choice of the cor­rect ‘oil, its vis­cos­ity and prepa­ra­tion” one can use any color, even ’ slower dry­ing’ pig­ments, and still accel­er­ate the drying.
    3. Use paints ground in lin­seed oil. Avoid paints made with slow-drying oils like saf­flower and poppy. Also avoid wal­nut oil, which dries faster than saf­flower or poppy, but slower than lin­seed. *Yes. Use lin­seed oil…but the lin­seed oil you choose will deter­mine whether the paint mixed with it will dry very very slow…or…very very fast. Too many sources, books, etc., includ­ing the infor­ma­tion in the arti­cle here, exclude the cor­rect facts and knowl­edge on the vast dif­fer­ences of the var­i­ous lin­seed oils one can use. My book clearly cov­ers the sub­ject, pro­vid­ing artists with the knowl­edge to make a cor­rect choice.

      • No need to resort to this mix­ture. It is totally dan­ger­ous, poi­so­nous and more impor­tant, it is not needed.
      • Tur­pen­tine and any other sol­vent DOES cause oil paint to dry faster because it causes oxy­gen to enter the film as it evap­o­rates. But, the dan­ger is in the fact that sol­vents break the binder of oil and pig­ment. The oft quoted ‘prin­ci­ple’ of ’ fat on lean’ is a rel­a­tively new ’ prin­ci­ple’ in oil paint­ing… one that devel­oped with the use of sol­vents in oil paint­ing. The Old Mas­ters cared not about ‘Fat on Lean”… they cared about ‘SLOW dry­ing paints on top of FAST dry­ing paints”. That is the real ’ prin­ci­ple’ , and if observed, will insure no cracking.
    4. Paint on a panel primed with glue-chalk gesso. The first layer will have some oil absorbed by the gesso, so the paint dries more quickly.

      • This advice is not sound. Some of the finest pre­served oil paint­ings are those painted on cop­per. They have no cracks, they have hard sur­face films with vibrant color depth. The rea­son is this: The prop­erly con­sti­tuted oil paints were applied to a non– absorbent ground. Its eas­ily proven that if you paint on an absorbent ground, it sucks oil out of the paint. The paint becomes more frag­ile and matt. Yes, some artists love the non-glare matt appear­ance, but the issue here is per­ma­nence. Absorbent grounds should be avoided. We can have faster dry­ing oil paints with­out using an absorbent ground.
    5. Add small amounts of metal­lic dri­ers to the paint. I pre­fer lead napthen­ate. I add one tiny drop (from a tooth­pick) per blob of paint on the palette and mix thor­oughly. Exces­sive use of dri­ers will dam­age the paint film, but that much should not be any prob­lem. I gen­er­ally add dri­ers only to slow-drying pigments.

      • Any added dri­ers are not nec­es­sary… and they are poisonous.Choice of the cor­rect lin­seed oil prepa­ra­tion is the key to fast dry­ing in oil painting.

    sin­cerely, Louis R. VElasquez

    • Marsh says

      This has been a very edu­ca­tional read­ing for me and I am going to go out and buy your book too…you do know what you are talk­ing about. I have been paint­ing for 5 years now and this to me is really very interesting.

  4. David says

    Louis,

    Thanks for your thought­ful com­ments. Here are some responses.


      • No need to resort to this mix­ture. It is totally dan­ger­ous, poi­so­nous and more impor­tant, it is not needed.

    Again, we have dif­fer­ent views regard­ing tox­i­c­ity of art materials.

    • Tur­pen­tine and any other sol­vent DOES FAST

    Thanks for point­ing that out. Min­eral spir­its just evap­o­rates away and does not accel­er­ate dry­ing. Spir­its of tur­pen­tine and oil of spike do react chem­i­cally with dry­ing oils and cause more rapid drying.

    Sol­vents have been used in oil paint­ing since at least the time of Leonardo, who prob­a­bly used oil of spike for his thin dark under­paint­ings. Used very judi­ciously, I have seen no evi­dence to sug­gest that they cause dam­age to paint films.


    Some of the finest pre­served oil paint­ings are those painted on copper.


    Dri­ers are only dan­ger­ous if you eat them. Lead and other metal­lic dri­ers are found in oil prepa­ra­tion recipes from the ear­li­est peri­ods of oil painting.


    So do you rec­om­mend that painters mull their own paint by hand and and then use it with­out tub­ing? That would be the actual Old Mas­ter method.

  5. Louis R. Velasquez says

    Hi David, I will not take the space or time to respond to each of your responses. I think your read­ers can make up their own minds.

    BUT..here are a cou­ple of responses to your com­ments: I will use a triple astrisk , pre­ceed­ing my words (***)

    ***( I had said):Some of the finest pre­served oil paint­ings are those painted on copper.

    *** The early oil painters using gesso on panel, iso­lated the gesso to make it non-absorbent, prior to oil paint­ing. There is much aca­d­e­mic lit­er­a­ture on this.

    (You responded) Dri­ers are only dan­ger­ous if you eat them. Lead and other metal­lic dri­ers are found in oil prepa­ra­tion recipes from the ear­li­est peri­ods of oil painting.

    *** Yes, of course. But you ignored the real issue I bought up… “the cor­rect lin­seed oil”. Its a sub­ject much ignored. In fdact, I referred to the issue sev­eral times, but you did not com­ment on it.

    ( Your com­ment was :)So do you rec­om­mend that painters mull their own paint by hand and and then use it with­out tub­ing? That would be the actual Old Mas­ter method.

    **** THe pro­fes­sional oil painter today has the advan­tage of well made oil paints sold ready to use, pack­aged in tubes. I am sure the Old Mas­ters would have loved to have had them. There­fore, I am not advo­cat­ing we dis­card all tube paint, and mull our own. Yet, it is very impor­tant to hand grind some of your oil paints as needed, in order to achieve max­i­mum effects, ease and results. Again, con­trol­ling the ‘cor­rect lin­seed oil’ to use, is a major require­ment. It assists the fast dry­ing of the paint. –sin­cerely, louis

  6. David says

    Louis,

    Con­tin­u­ing the conversation…

    *** The early oil painters using gesso on panel, iso­lated the gesso to make it non-absorbent, prior to oil paint­ing. There is much aca­d­e­mic lit­er­a­ture on this.

    That’s not so clear in the doc­u­men­ta­tion and analy­sis that I’ve seen. Jan van Eyck often applied a layer of oil between the gesso and the oil paint (a vio­la­tion of “fat over lean” if ever there was one). Other Nether­lan­dish painters prob­a­bly under­painted in egg tem­pera, which would pro­vide some degree of bar­rier between the oil paint and the gesso. Oth­ers, from what I have read, appear to have painted directly with oil on gesso. By the begin­ning of the fol­low­ing cen­tury, Raphael was prim­ing on top of gesso with lead white mixed with a bit of gal­lorino (lead tin yellow).

    I have some­times used a layer of hide glue on top of gesso to reduce absorbency. To some degree, absorbency depends on the gesso recipe; more glue and less whit­ing results in a less absorbent gesso. Gesso pan­els made by the folks at http://​www​.realgesso​.com, for exam­ple, are less absorbent than those I make myself.

    *** Yes, of course. But you ignored the real issue I bought up… “the cor­rect lin­seed oil”. Its a sub­ject much ignored. In fdact, I referred to the issue sev­eral times, but you did not com­ment on it.

    I admit to hav­ing lim­ited knowl­edge of vari­eties of lin­seed oils. I did not com­ment because I don’t feel qual­i­fied to do so. I am aware of the many old recipes for wash­ing, puri­fy­ing, and cook­ing oils. (These often involved lead or other metal­lic dri­ers.) But I have never exper­i­mented with them.

    **** THe pro­fes­sional oil painter today has the advan­tage of well made oil paints sold ready to use, pack­aged in tubes. I am sure the Old Mas­ters would have loved to have had them. There­fore, I am not advo­cat­ing we dis­card all tube paint, and mull our own. Yet, it is very impor­tant to hand grind some of your oil paints as needed, in order to achieve max­i­mum effects, ease and results. Again, con­trol­ling the ‘cor­rect lin­seed oil’ to use, is a major require­ment. It assists the fast dry­ing of the paint.

    Which com­mer­cial oil paint brands are made with the “cor­rect” oil, in your opin­ion? Or are you refer­ring to oil that the painter adds to the paint? It would seem to me that if there are cor­rect and incor­rect oils, one would either need to be very selec­tive regard­ing which brands of paint one uses, or make one’s own paint. Per­haps I am mis­un­der­stand­ing your point here.

  7. Louis R. Velasquez says

    Hi David, THanks for the com­ments. (My responses will be pre­ceeded with ***)
    *** Your com­ment of Van Eyck vio­lat­ing the prin­ci­ple of “fat over lean”… goes to show what I’ve said. That princ­ple applies only to the his­tor­i­cal proges­sion of uses of sol­vents. The Old mas­ter por­in­ci­ple is/was/ remains the same for us today…”paint slow dry­ing paint on TOP of fast dry­ing paint”…. even as one paints lay­ers on top of half dry/drying paint layers.

    MUST have an indef­i­nite shelf life. In addi­tion, sta­bi­liz­ers are added to the mix…to keep the oil and the pig­ment from sep­a­rat­ing….. again….. to please the buyer and in turn, the seller. You’ve opened some tubes before, and a whole mass of oil pours out… we all have…even high grade oil paints.

    That oil is extremely slow dry­ing, some of the col­ors tak­ing 6, 7, 12 days to dry. The result was the need for the cre­ation of “paint­ing medi­ums” to cure the ills of that paint. The many recipes of ‘paint­ing medi­ums’ all con­tain vary­ing ratios of the same ingre­di­ents: Sol­vents to increase dry­ing …Resins to be liqui­fied by the sol­vents and when the sol­vents evap­o­rate, the resins stick­i­ness aids adhe­sion, and allows easy blend­ing because of the increased vis­cos­ity, and dri­ers because mod­ern peo­ple are just in a hurry.

    Van eycks and oth­ers even Velazquez and Rem­brandt knew how to make their oil paint behave with­out any of these haz­ardous ( haz­ardous to your health and to the health of the paint­ing itself). I know your phi­los­o­phy is that you are a care­ful adult who does not drink sol­vent nor eat lead white… but the issue is more pro­found than ‘cau­tion’. Many many peo­ple become deathly ill just by inhal­ing sol­vents. Oth­ers by any skin con­tact with lead. Oil Paint­ing is for every­one!!! Chil­dren, elderly, ama­teur and pro­fes­sional painters who have becxme so ill over time, doc­tors orders are not to get near sol­vents again. Law­suits against uni­ver­si­ties because of some stu­dents becom­ing very ill in oil paint­ing class. ‘Cau­tion” is cool, but avoid­ing the unnec­es­sary is pru­dent and wise. I can paint in my stu­dio with the heater on, all the win­dows closed, no ven­ti­la­tion, and suf­fer not a bit. Because I have deter­mined after years of expo­sure to the haz­ardous mate­ri­als… I can paint eas­ily, quickly, safely, and the results are permanent…And, I can use all appli­ca­tion meth­ods… from broad thick tex­tures to the finest micro-fine lines and details… And if I mix the cor­rect oil, I can take advan­tage of the thixotropic qual­ity it affords.

    My book, avail­able on my web­site pro­vides the knowl­edge on all of these points.You cited Da Vinci’s use of spike sol­vent. Your choice could have been bet­ter when one sees Leos few paint­ings not in great con­di­tion. The Mona is yel­low and fully cracked. Not as good con­di­tion as the Van Eycks who preeceeded him by years. The Last Sup­per, though a Fresco, is com­pletely destroyed. There is a Da Vinci Madonna that is so wrin­kled — the worst in all of the Renais­sance– that one ques­tions the use of wal­nut oil he pro­fessed as bet­ter than lin­seed. Wal­nut oil wrin­kles like any other oil if not used correctly.

    sin­cerely, Louis R. Velasquez

  8. L Avila says

    I have 40 years lead tubes with oil paints, good colours, there is some cor­ro­sive look on the out­side of tubes. some oil com­ing out of the tubes, colours are good and some colours I placed on a piece of tim­ber, with the warm weather in aus­tralia will not dry out. Any sug­ges­tions, can I add any chem­i­cals to make then dry faster?
    Or because the lead poi­son­ing, should i buy new tubes, may be will dry faster? and I will not get the lead poissoning?

  9. David says

    L. Avila,

    If the paints are that old and refuse to dry on their own, I’d be skep­ti­cal about using them for seri­ous work. Use them for stud­ies. After a few weeks, if they haven’t dried (or if you can’t stand to look at them), then throw the paint­ings away.

    As for lead, real­ize that it can’t harm you unless you ingest it. So I would strongly rec­om­mend that you not eat the tubes of paint, or what they con­tain. Do a search here for “stu­dio safety” to get my sug­ges­tions about appro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions to take when han­dling any (nor­mal) kind of paint, no mat­ter what sub­stances it contains.

  10. Jo says

    Have you ever come across a medium or oil paint that after allow­ing weeks and months to dry and lay­er­ing cor­rectly with thin lay­ers to ‘sweat’? My paint­ing looks like it has small glob­ules of brown medium that has risen to the sur­face (and now dried) — is it because of sunlight/heat? I have never had this hap­pen before.

  11. David says

    Jo,

    I’m sorry, but I’ve never had that hap­pen. What kind of paint did you use? What kind of medium, if any?

  12. Jo says

    Hi David,

    I’ve been look­ing into this and I think one of my oil col­ors has sep­a­rated and the lin­seed oil has seeped out. It was actu­ally a paint­ing I had given to a friend and I have been wait­ing for it to set­tle before I var­nished it. They have just told me that this has hap­pened. I spoke to a restorer and they have sug­gested I use white spirit and a Q-tip to try and lift the glob­ules off.

  13. David says

    Jo,

    That’s pretty rea­son­able. You may have to do some repaint­ing afterwards.

  14. rafael says

    How to get oil paint to dry quickly AFTER a paint­ing has been finished?

  15. Jim says

    Like Rafael above, I’m won­der­ing if there’s any­thing that can be done AFTER the paint­ing is made to help accel­er­ate the dry­ing time. My paint­ings are not on can­vas, but on high-quality resin model kits. Most mod­el­ers use acrylics flow­ing through an air­brush for their kits, but I pre­fer the more pre­cise con­trol of shad­ing my mod­els with oils. (I first prime with auto­mo­tive primer, base coat with acrylics, then “seal” the kit with a few coats of spray lac­quer, like Testors Dull­coat.) But hav­ing to wait 5 days or more between lay­ers of oils is get­ting old. Would some­thing as sim­ple as a fan blow­ing overnight on the piece work? I’ve used a hairdryer to accel­er­ate the dry­ing of my acrylic base coats. Has any­one tried that on oils?

  16. Incompetent says

    A hairdryer won’t work on oils (exclud­ing heat set oils, which get mixed reviews) as they dry by oxi­da­tion. Have you tried using fluid acrylics? You might get the more pre­cise con­trol you seek.

    I’ve heard you can dry an oil paint­ing to dry quickly by putting it in the oven but I haven’t tried it…

  17. Jim says

    By “fluid acrylics” I assume you mean the bot­tles of acrylic paints used for mod­el­ing. If so, yes. I use those exten­sively for all my base coats. How­ever, they dry way too fast to do any shad­ing and blend­ing with them. Many mod­el­ers cre­ate thin washes with the liq­uid acrylics and use that for shad­ing. But I’ve always ended up with a faint hard line between my var­i­ous shaded areas doing that. I’ve also tried using tube acrylics, since they dry a bit slower than the bot­tled acrylics, yet much faster than oils. But they just can’t be blended as well as the oils. The end result with oils can’t be beat in terms of looks. But in terms of dry­ing time, they’re just so imprac­ti­cal. I’m still wait­ing to be able to fin­ish a model I put oils on more than a week ago. As of this morn­ing, it was still too wet to han­dle and work on.

  18. Incompetent says

    I think tube col­ors would be too thick for your pur­poses, as you wouldn’t want vis­i­ble brush strokes.

    What about using retarder/glazing medium to increase the dry­ing time? Golden’s glaz­ing medium has retarder already added.

    One good tip I’ve heard is to use a spray mis­ter filled with water and glaz­ing medium: you can spray it to applied paint to keep it work­able and the added medium will keep the paint from los­ing binder…I used to pick up a lot of under­lay­ers with thinned paint before I tried that.

  19. Incompetent says

    Edit: If it’s smooth blend­ing you want, I’d just fol­low David’s advice and add a drier to your oil paints for the next model you work on.

  20. Mary P says

    Ques­tion regard­ing get­ting paint to dry AFTER you have com­pleted the work.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog where you dis­cussed this sub­ject, but, unless I missed it, you really didn’t answer the ques­tion posed by another artist on this sub­ject. I have a paint­ing I’m try­ing to get into a show in a week and it’s still wet (cad orange and cobalt blue are still wet and don’t really show signs of dry­ing). I’ll try the fan idea until I get a response.

  21. Jim says

    Mary:

    Let me know if that works. I haven’t worked on any­thing in oils since I sug­gested that, so I don’t know if that’s a pos­si­bil­ity for quick­en­ing the dry­ing time or not. So I’d like to know what hap­pens. Could you please post the results here? Thanks.

    —Jim

  22. David says

    Mary,

    Once the paint has been applied, I don’t really know how to make it dry faster. I rec­om­mend think­ing ahead and using the tech­niques I sug­gested in the post when dry­ing time is important.

  23. Soapy says

    I have heard the plac­ing your paint­ing in light will speed the dry­ing time, ie; UV light. Sup­pos­edly it can cut the time by up to 50%. I haven’t tested this so I can’t con­firm. It was sug­gested to put the paint­ing under a black light. From what I can gather the process at work here is known as pho­tox­i­da­tion. One pro­viso men­tioned was that fugi­tive colours might take a hit from the light expo­sure but I highly doubt that a few days under a black light is going to cause much fad­ing in com­par­i­son to hang­ing on someone’s wall in nat­ural light for years and years.

  24. Doug MacBean says

    Is there an exist­ing list of tra­di­tional oil paints, with faster dry­ing times? I would like to com­pile a list of colours which dry faster than oth­ers. Espe­cially a red.
    – doug

  25. DB says

    I’ve been paint­ing, a bit strained and unhappy with process/technique, for a few years with the water-soluble oil paints. They are unfriendly for me after years of using tra­di­tonal tubes of oil paints. My “real” oil paints are cur­rently in sight but “archived.” Any chance to aban­don water-soluble oils and return to the old will be wel­come, an excuse to party.

    The lack of nox­ious smelling off-gassing (and dele­te­ri­ous) vapors is key to con­tin­ued paint­ing here. If using just lin­seed oil as a “sol­vent” in the lean-to-fat progress of a paint­ing will do the trick IF the ini­tial lay­er­ings dry quickly and IF those lit­tle changes here and there, later on, also dry quickly…and if we have zero off-gassing, then I’d be very pleased.

    The ques­tion that comes to mind, how­ever, is: Which lin­seed oil (and why only lin­seed vs. saf­flower or other oils? I sus­pect that Louis V. has an inter­est in a pro­pri­etary prod­uct, while I’m inter­ested in some­thing I can pick up rea­son­ably and region­ally via mail order. Look­ing in NYCentral’s cat­a­log (2005) I see that 2 lin­seed oils are noted for quick dry­ing: a) Sun-Thickened and b) Thick­ened where the key words are “accel­er­ates dry­ing time.”

    I like to add that brush clean­ing is also an issue. Do you clean brushes with lin­seed oil and soap? Saf­flower oil and soap?

    Thanks for the infor­ma­tive and ener­giz­ing website.

  26. tombobiche says

    About mulling your paint with­out tub­ing; they used to put their paint in blad­ders; I can’t remem­ber where I read you can fold it up in alu­minum foil, knock out all the air, and seal it in duct tape; then a nail will serve as the plug

  27. Rusty says

    Hi David,
    I just came across your site today and find it very help­ful. My ques­tion is about dis­posal of paint­ing mate­ri­als — rags, left­over paint, etc. Since you are using toxic paint pig­ments (cads, lead…) what are you doing when you have to get rid of ‘your left­overs?‘

    Thanks!

    • David Rourke says

      Rusty,

      Good ques­tion. If I were a per­fect guardian of the envi­ron­ment, I would do a bet­ter job with this. What I do is limit the amount of toxic mate­ri­als that I con­tribute to ground­wa­ter, etc. to very, very small quantities.

      In most com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S., there is a pub­lic works depart­ment that will peri­od­i­cally accept con­t­a­m­i­nants. Mostly that’s stuff like used engine oil from peo­ple who change the oil on their cars, but it also includes toxic art mate­ri­als. So I save rags and paint cleaned from my palette. Peri­od­i­cally I make sure they go to the right place. I actu­ally pro­duce very lit­tle in the way of waste mate­ri­als, in part because I am kind of stingy—avoiding squeez­ing out much more paint than I’m going to use, for example.

  28. Ken says

    Jim,

    Golden makes a an“acrylic glaz­ing liq­uid” that both retards dry­ing time and also allows for eas­ier blend­ing of acrylic paint. It would be, I think, worth a try for your models.

    I love both acrylic and oils, but for mod­els, I would use acrylic.

    If you want lots of colours, just buy one of Reeves 24 colour sets, a bot­tle of Golden glaz­ing liq­uid, and have fun for less than $30. The paint works well, and the glaze will give you about dou­ble to eight times the dry­ing time dend­ing on how much you add and how thick the lay­ers are. It makes the paint look milky when wet, but this resolves after it dries.

    Fin­ish it with Kry­lon Kamar var­nish, and it should last for decades and look pro­fes­sional as well.

  29. Ashbala says

    i know just how to make paint today i made paint by putting my crayon box on the heater i waited for the night untill the day came and when the day came my sis­ter opened the box and guess what there was a lit­tle bit of paint and i thought i would on this web­site to tell you if this is a great idea i have been think­ing about that to. its just so hard to sug­gest im in 3rd grade ive been will­ing to share my ideas with you if only they are great so that is why i came to this site any­way i didnt know about this web­site its just great i have heard that you are a great painter? i dont actu­ally know but im will­ing to find all the things about you i think you are a great painter i have been will­ing to know what great painters do well i think i would be a painter when i grow up and i love acry and oils .If you want lots of colours buy 24 colour sets and you can actu­ally make a rain­bow with youre colours and a duck and a bat.I really love the colours pink and golden.i won­der how to make those colours im try­ing hard and im think­ing hard.I know how to paint the starry night its my i just call it that because it has a moon in the pic­ture and its night.

    • David says

      Very cute.

      I notice your link isn’t working.

  30. puneet says

    hi, i m a painter, plz tell me any chem­i­cal or liq­uid or pow­der for paint to quick dry in 15 to 30 minute in any weather.

    • David says

      Puneet,

      Oil paint just won’t do what you’re ask­ing for. I’d look into water­color, acrylic, or egg tempera.

  31. Charles Aston says

    Hi David, Re oil dry­ing. would an oil based glue mixed in with oil paint have a neg­a­tive effect. I paint impasto and search­ing for a thick tex­tured fin­ish with­out wrin­kling sorry first email address mis spelt

    • David says

      Charles,

      I don’t know. I’ve never done much impasto in oil, so I haven’t exper­i­mented. I expect it would depend on exactly what the for­mu­la­tion of the glue was.

      If you want really thick impasto with­out wait­ing a decade for the oil paint to dry, you might con­sider apply­ing the first layer in acrylic. There are lots of addi­tives for acrylic designed to make inter­est­ing impasto textures—if these are rough, they will improve the abil­ity of oil paint to adhere. Once you have the right sur­face struc­ture, go in on top with a thin­ner layer of oil paint.

  32. alver jackson says

    Hi David Pass­ing by when i came across your blog . I was look­ing for ways to mix and spray oil col­ors, ive spent over a grand on books these last few months and most give little or no info on oils for airbrushing out of 48 titles ive bought i got my first book today that had 2 small para­graphs an this is the main advise ‚(Oils need to be thinned sig­nif­cantly with REFINED ESSENCE OF TURPENTINE and a few drops of DRIER to speed up dry­ing time. As you notice no men­tion of what type of dryer.But im learning to oil paint brush style also and a couple of books had some helpful hints in this area i havnt had a chance to try them yet as ive been in no hurry to dry this type of painting but ill try some­time soon and let yall know how they work. I couldnt help notice Mr. Louis R. Velasquez coments he is quite right about using the cor­rect lin­seed oil , since he didnt wish to share his info unless you buy his book, well i would have been more inclined to buy his book had he shared that little tidbit which should be in any oil painting book but sadly isnt the case,so kudos to you sir for putting basic info at least i feel its basic info that should be in any decent oil paint­ing book since you had enough for­sight to enclude that info in your book you say i may have to get a copy to see if you have any other secrets. Any­way ive gotten off track here there are many linseed oils most say to use refined linseed oil but that is wrong refined linseed oil slows drying.to speed up drying you should use DRYING LINSEED OIL for dark colors and DRYING POPPY OIL for pale colors .Winsor & Newton makes these products .also it is noted by some that MANGANESE DRIERS work, hope this helps someone and i hope i havent given away MR LOUIS R. VELASQUEZ s (SECRET CORRECT LINSEED OIL) Secret away. Ah who am i kid­ding sites like this is for peo­ple help­ing peo­ple not to pry a lot of bucks out of there wal­let or purse.I dont know if this is what hes refer­ing too are not ‚but most likely it is.if your look­ing for a book it my be worth check­ing out. Hey DB go back to your oils you love,just use turpinoid instead of turpin­tine or they also make oder­less thin­ners which do have a slight oder but not much plus it lasts for­ever i use a plas­tic coffie can with han­dle and when to much paint builds up on bot­tom after clean­ing brushes & paint knives i let it set­tle over night or day and pour into another coffie can with lid all the paint in bot­tom of 1st can makes a nice gray save and paint with or mix with for dif­fer­ent shades and the 2nd can is just as clean as the day you put it in the 1st can. i dont know if that helps when i first started with oil i used BOB ROSS products hes gone now but his paint line contuines he has liquid clear oil paint ,white and black oil paint that will work with other oil paints comes in 8 fl oz size and larger that can be used to thin your paint works well or use the turpinoid or oderless thinner which is the same i do belive they just dont peo­ple to know there (secret) of course i could be wrong, but i don‘t think so .i hope this helps some of your read­ers david and to the man who places him­self in the likes of rem­brandt and van eycks good luck with your book .

  33. Lily says

    Hi , I just have a ques­tion regard­ing the dry­ing of oil paint­ings. I’v seen a cou­ple of arti­cles say­ing dont dry your oil paint­ing in the dark. This is a bit con­fus­ing to me. Does that mean always put your wet oil paint­ings in a room with light bulbs on?? As it is impos­si­ble to always have day­light when your paint­ing is yet to dry. Please could you give me some clar­i­fi­ca­tion. I leave my oil paint­ing in the con­ser­va­tory at night and the win­dows are opened for ven­ti­la­tion and the lights are switched off when i go to bed, but In the day­time, there’s enough light com­ing in.

    • David says

      Lily,

      Sorry about the delay. Oil paint­ings (dry or wet) left in the dark for long peri­ods tend to turn yel­low. That hap­pened a cou­ple of months ago to a panel I had primed with lead white but not yet painted on. I left it par­tially behind another panel, so that part of if was in shadow and part of it not. The part in shadow turned yellow.

      For­tu­nately, expo­sure to light fixes the prob­lem. I left the panel com­pletely out in the light for a few weeks and the yel­low­ing disappeared.

      The lights don’t have to be on all the time. Just a nor­mal amount of room or sun light will pre­vent yel­low­ing from happening.

  34. McCondrey Cardinal says

    how many days oil paint­ing will be dry with­out using any quick dry­ing chemicals?

  35. McCondrey Cardinal says

    how many days oil paint­ing will dry with­out using any quick dry­ing chemicals.

    • David says

      McCondrey,

      There are too many vari­ables to give you a clear answer. What kind of sur­face was the paint applied to? What kind of oil was the paint made with? What pig­ments are in the paint? How thick is the layer of paint? Did the man­u­fac­turer add any­thing to the paint to even out dry­ing time between dif­fer­ent paints? Did you add sol­vents or medi­ums to the paint? And so on.

      Dry­ing time can vary from a few hours to two or more weeks.

  36. Sharon says

    I have a paint­ing in which the first lay­ers are acrylic and then I added heavy tex­ture with water sol­u­ble oils on top and a var­nish to seal the deal. It is 7 years old and I tried to clean it using a method I found online. I live in Hawaii and it is very humid and now the paint­ing is wet to the touch and won’t dry. Can any­one help?

  37. Mickster says

    Another tech­nique that I have found is using a blow dryer and a cool fan. I took the blow dryer and ran it over my paint­ing for a cou­ple min­utes and then set it in front of a fan.

  38. Chris Watts says

    Just to leave a tip, using Olive oil as a thin­ner makes oil paint dry very slowly. It also has an incred­i­ble effect on the final work if the paint­ing took 3 years to dry. The paint itself changes. Apart from the Artist skill, one gets the nat­ural mor­pho­log­i­cal action of the pig­ments. Its barely notice­able but I like it.

    • David says

      I would not do this with any paint­ing intended for per­ma­nent dis­play. Olive oil would likely have a ter­ri­ble effect on the longevity of the paint­ing. If you’re just mess­ing around, then it doesn’t matter.

  39. Roma says

    I have used heater to dry first layer of my painting..which was red back­ground in medium to thin layer…it took few days to dry..kept it approx­i­mately 1-2hrs per day in front of the blower…then I did sec­ond layer of red back­ground .. thin to medium layer…again I kept it in front of blower..also used fan at times…nd kept it in sun too…. I am afraid if my paint­ing will have cracks in future because I used blower for my underlayers..and that too at a dis­tance of 1ft-2ft from my painting….now I m paint­ing the sub­ject on it..and not using blower anymore

    • David says

      Roma,

      This is not opti­mal tech­nique. It may or may not cause prob­lems later on. My guess is that you are prob­a­bly OK.

  40. Roma says

    For­got to men­tion that it’s an oil painting

  41. Ben says

    Started a paint­ing and wanted to color the back­ground dark. Used ultra­ma­rine, virid­ian and ivory black mixed with min­eral spir­its. Then put down tita­nium white mixed with both turp and min­eral spir­its (was try­ing to see which thinned it out bet­ter), where I’m plac­ing objects. The plan was to let that dry and start a dead layer on top of the white. It’s been a week and if I touch it, white still will come off on my fin­ger. This has me con­fused if I can even do that now. Umber will dry faster. Any­ways how bad off am I?

    • David says

      Ben,

      Tita­nium white and ivory black are both slow dri­ers. Tem­per­a­ture and weather can also affect dry­ing time. Depend­ing on the oil your paint is ground in, that could also be a fac­tor. If you give it enough time, you should prob­a­bly be OK.

  42. sheila clayton says

    Thanks I an a 70 year old por­tait painter . I WILL TRY SOME OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS It is nice to know I can con­tact you

    • David says

      Shiela,

      If you did every­thing the way I do that would be a mat­ter of some con­cern. Good luck with your painting.

  43. sheila clayton says

    Thanks I an a 70 year old por­tait painter . I WILL TRY SOME OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS It is nice to know I can con­tact you

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Oil Painting - Waiting For A Layer To Dry at KalaaLog linked to this post on 26 April 2007

    […] And search­ing over the net, I found the blog post by David Rourke: How to get oil paint to dry quickly […]



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