Oil Paint Drying Times

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Oil Paint Drying Times

What Oil Painting Beginners Need to Know

The most frequent question asked by oil painting beginners is what are the oil paint drying times for various colours? The following information applies to traditional oils and water soluble oils.
There are several factors which influence the drying times, so I can only give you some guidelines to look at.
So What are These Factors?

  • Drying Oil used in the colour
  • Oil you are using to mix with the oil paints
  • Individual colour
  • Thickness of the application
  • Environmental conditions.

Drying Oil used in the colour

The most commonly used oil is linseed oil.
Other oils which may be used are safflower oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, hemp, sunflower oil, and soybean oil

Oils You Mix In

The most popular choice of oils to mix into paints to change the consistency is linseed oil. This oil also increases the transparency of the colour and adds gloss to the paint as it dries
The best quality is the cold-pressed kind. It tends to dry slightly faster than the refined linseed oil which takes 3 to 5 days.
Linseed oils traditionally have yellowed with age so it is recommended that you use the linseed oil for the dark colours or for under painting where it won’t matter. Avoid using it with light colours and blues.
Walnut oil dries in 4 to 5 days, so it is a little slower than linseed oil. It also tends to yellow, but to a lesser extent than the linseed oil does.
Poppy seed and Safflower oil are good choices for lighter colours and blues since they tend to only minimally yellow if at all. The poppy seed takes 5 to 7 days to dry while the safflower oil is a little faster.

Individual Colours

Different pigments interact with the oils in different ways resulting in different drying times. Here is a chart to help you identify the difference.

Colours that dry in
  • 2 Days are “FAST”
  • 5 Days are “MEDIUM”
  • More than 5 Days are “SLOW”

YELLOWS
Indian Yellow
Fast
Cobalt
Fast
Naples
Fast
Ochre
Medium
Mars
Medium
Hansa
Slow
Cadmium
Slow
ORANGE
Cadmiums
Slow
REDS
Mars
Medium
Alizarin
Slow
Cadmiums
Slow
BLUES
Prussian Blue
Fast
Manganese
Fast
Phthalo
Fast
Cobalt
Medium Fast
Ultra Marine
Slow
Cerulean
Slow
VIOLETS
Manganese
Fast
Cobalt Violet
Medium
Mars
Medium
GREENS
Phthalo
Fast
Viridian
Slow
Terre Vert
Slow
EARTH TONES
Umbers
Fast
Sienna’s
Fast
BLACKS
Mars
Fast
Ivory
Slow
Lamp
Slow
WHITES
Flake
Fast
Titanium
Slow
Zinc
Slow
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