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How To Make Oil Paint Dry Faster

Updated on November 13, 2016
Azure11 profile image

Marian (aka Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.

Oil paint drying times

I have worked with oil paint for quite a while now and although I like painting in oils the one frustration that I have for some of my paintings is that the paint takes so long for oil paint to dry. There are a lot of variables that you need to take into account to know how long it will take oil paints to dry including atmospheric conditions, the colour and quality of paint you are using, what type of mediums you use with the paint etc. Overall it can take between 1 and 5 days for oil paint to be touch dry, or possibly even longer in some cases.

To be honest it is a bit of a double-edged sword as the reason I like oil paints, apart from the vibrancy and variety of oil paint that you can get, is the fact that they do not dry immediately like acrylic paints, and so you can keep working with the paint over a period of hours or even days.

I used Liquin on this painting which made blending easier and it dried much more quickly. painting (c) Azure11, 2008
I used Liquin on this painting which made blending easier and it dried much more quickly. painting (c) Azure11, 2008

Make Oil Paint Dry Faster!

However, there are occasions, for example when you need to get a painting finished within a certain deadline and you have to do that painting in oils for whatever reason, that you would want to do all you can to make the oil paint dry quicker without compromising the quality of the painting.

At the most extreme end of the scale I did once create an oil painting that actually took 3 months to dry. It was in oranges and yellows and from experience I find that these colours take longer to dry than say blue derivatives. The temperature and humidity were relatively high at that time so that would likely have been a factor.

So when I need to make oil paint dry faster I will use a medium that I add in small quantities to the oil paint that does speed up the drying time of the paint. That quick drying medium is called Liquin and it is made by Winsor & Newton (I'm not aware if it is a brand name and only sold by Winsor & Newton or whether it is sold by other people but that is the only brand I have seen it sold under).

You can just add a dash of Liquin to your palette and add it in gradually as you pick up the paint.

There are a couple of varieties of Liquin that you can buy - I generally use the standard Liquin Original but you can also get Liquin Fine Detail for more detailed artwork. As most of my work is big and abstract the Liquin Original is fine for the oil painting that I do.

Another painting where Liquin was used to make the paint dry more quickly (c) Azure11
Another painting where Liquin was used to make the paint dry more quickly (c) Azure11

Using Liquin to Make Oil Paint Dry Faster

When using Liquin do not mix too much of it with the paint - you only need a small amount, say about 1 part Liquin to 4 parts paint (you can experiment with different ratios but don't use too much). Using Liquin gives you more free-flowing brush strokes and also improves transparency (one reason not to use too much if you want the paint to remain more opaque).

By adding Liquin to your oil paint you can make the paint dry so much quicker. A painting that might otherwise take 3-5 days to dry will likely be dry in 24 hours or even less. in some cases I have had oil paint dry in a few hours so that I can start putting the next coat on.

Liquin is prone to changing color in the bottle as it ages and it will go a kind of purple brown colour in time. However, it can still be used when it has changed color so don't worry about this.

There is a possibility that Liquin can bring on an allergic reaction so check with a small amount before you use it by testing it on your hand or somewhere inconspicuous.

I have also heard people say that using liquin in with your paint means that the paint keeps on drying and drying and over time will crack, however, I have never found this to be the case.


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    • profile image

      SUBHAS SG 7 weeks ago

      its really very informative to beginners

    • markomitic profile image

      markomitic 6 years ago from Toronto

      Great tips. Thank you very much. I will implement it to my own tricks when I am painting. Been painting for a long time now. Amazing hub. Keep up the good work.

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks very much!

    • joyfuldesigns profile image

      Valerie Garner 6 years ago from Washington State

      Great information here, and I love your painting.