How long does an oil painting take to dry? We study the topic

Being interested in the answer to the question of how long a picture painted with oil paints dries, and whether this drying process can be accelerated, you need to figure out what is included in the paints. For example, paints made from polymer oils dry faster than those made from natural, refined materials. In addition, the name of the drying process is not entirely correct, since the oil hardens rather than dries. In this case, after five to seven days, a protective film is formed on the surface of the upper layer. And the complete hardening of the oil paint occurs in about six months. However, this process is influenced by several factors.

What determines the drying speed of oil-based paint? 4 main factors

An artwork painted with oil paints dries depending on the following factors:

  1. Humidity level and room temperature. In the dark and cold, the solidification of oil paint on the canvas will go very slowly. At the same time, if you provide warmth and constant light, the pigment and paint binder in the painting will dry much faster.
  2. Stroke thickness. If you use the technique of light application of paint, namely glazing, then the curing time will be less than when using other techniques. The fact is that when glazed, the paint layer is very thin and it dries quickly. But the pasty technique involves the application of thick layers. Then you will have to be patient to wait for the oil paint to completely dry.
  3. Paint pigment components. Some types of oil paints, depending on the color, take longer to dry than others. It’s all about the material of manufacture. For example, white contains titanium. Titanium paints take longer to dry, for example, than brown paints, which are made from decomposed peat.
  4. Thinner type. If you dilute the paints with linseed oil, the layers will take a long time to dry. About a week or two. When used for the same purpose, pinene, the process of solidification of oil paint takes several days. But the smell of this substance is much more unpleasant than linseed oil.

If we talk about averages, then oil paint on canvas dries from two to seven days. The process of solidification takes a week if not the most favorable conditions for drying are created. Complete solidification of oil paint is carried out only six months after the first layer was applied. However, the paint industry does not stand still, and many manufacturers make quick-drying materials.

How can I speed up the drying process of oil paints? 3 Ways to Dry a Painting Quickly

Now you know why some oil paintings dry faster than others, and you can ensure that they dry quickly. However, there are techniques that allow you to significantly increase the rate of hardening of oil paints. Use them to get your work done as quickly as possible.

So, the first way is to arrange special drying conditions. This budget option involves placing the finished canvas under direct sunlight in a warm open space. It should never be raw. Therefore, all sources of moisture must be removed in advance. You can use a heater in the room, it will dry the air. Be careful when using this drying method. If you expose an oil painting to the sun, the paint will expand and crack. And this will only spoil your painstaking creative work.

The second way is a draft. The room in which you left the painting to dry should be well ventilated. The fact is that oil paints do not contain water, and it cannot evaporate, and paints cannot dry out. This is not quite the correct designation of the process. A film forms on the surface of the paint, which hardens, oxidizing under the influence of air. An oil painting will dry faster if there is free air circulation. It dries best outdoors.

However, what to do if the weather conditions do not allow for round-the-clock rays and a slight draft. Then you need to turn to the third way to increase the drying speed – to special tools: driers and thinners (pinene and tee). They need to be mixed with oil paints initially. Thanks to special substances in these products, oil paint hardens many times faster.

If you combine the three methods listed above, your painting will be ready to be varnished or unvarnished in a matter of days.

What should not be done and what measures should be taken during the drying of the picture? Additional nuances

Wanting to speed up the hardening of oil paints on canvas “at home”, many novice artists use a hair dryer, for which they later pay with cracks, brittleness and loss of parts of the paint. For the same reason, you should not get carried away with heaters and batteries in the winter while working on a painting.

To increase the cure rate of oil paint, use a primed canvas or apply your own primer. It is not only an indispensable base for a quality oil painting, but also an excellent paint absorber. At the same time, the usual sizing of a gelatin canvas does not have absorbent properties, and such a picture painted with oil paints will dry longer.

The canvas with the finished work is installed vertically, so less dust settles on it, which will certainly stick to fresh paints. The best option is to leave the oil painting on canvas to dry. So you will have the opportunity to return to work in a few days and make additions, if necessary.

You need to take care of the hardening process of oil paints before starting work on the picture, so you will save time, money and spend less effort.

You don’t have to rush to look for dubious drying tips – all the actionable recommendations are collected in this article.