How to Speed Up Oil Painting Dry Time

Written by matthew caines
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How to Speed Up Oil Painting Dry Time
Most brands of oil paint will fully dry within ten days. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Oils are a great medium to paint with because they are rich in colour and texture. Naturally, these paints are slow drying because they are bound with drying oils, but there are ways to speed up the process. Most of these techniques can only be applied to your work before or as you are painting it, but there's also some useful tips for what to do after the painting has been finished and you need a quick-dry solution.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Add linseed oil to your paints to make them dry quicker. Linseed oil is a popular type of drying agent that is already often added to oil paints. Add more to speed up the drying process further. Walnut and safflower oils are also good choices but linseed oil is the fastest drying, taking three to five days to fully dry the paint.

  2. 2

    Paint with long-drying colours first and finish with those that dry quicker. Certain shades of blue, yellow and brown tend to dry quite quickly at around two days, while colours like ultramarine, viridian green and zinc white will stay wet for longer than five days.

  3. 3

    Apply a layer of gesso to your canvas before painting. Gesso is an acrylic latex calcium carbonate mix that helps the oil paint adhere to the canvas and encourages the paint to absorb and dry.

  4. 4

    Paint thinner. Instead of applying the oil paint in thick layers, apply the paint in thin layers that will dry quicker.

  5. 5

    Hang your finished painting in a well-ventilated room -- humidity and dampness will delay the drying process. Employ and air conditioning unit if you have one to remove and moisture in the atmosphere. You can also place a spot lamp or fan close to the paint to speed up its drying time, but ensure you don't place it too close so that the paint runs or burns.

Tips and warnings

  • Drying oils might alter the colour of your paint so ensure you add them before painting, instead of adding to an existing colour half way through the piece.

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