Marian (aka Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.
How to Make Oil Paints Dry Faster
I have worked with oil paint for quite a while now. Although I like doing so, the one frustration I have is the long dry time. There are a lot of variables that you need to take into account for the dry time, some of which include:
- Atmospheric conditions.
- Color and quality of the paints.
- The mediums you use with the paint.
It can take between 1-5 days for oil paint to be dry to the touch, or possibly even longer in some cases. To be honest, it's a bit of a double-edged sword as the reason I like oil paints, apart from the vibrancy and variety of oil paint you can get, is the fact that they do not dry immediately like acrylic paints. This means you can keep working with the paint over a period of hours or even days.
However, there are occasions when you want to do all you can to make the paint dry more quickly without compromising the painting's quality. For instance, an extreme example was when I created an oil painting that actually took three months to dry. It was in oranges and yellows, and from experience, I find that these colors take longer to dry than say, the blue derivatives. The temperature and humidity were relatively high at that time so that would likely have been another factor.
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 and this is the one I use).
- 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.
Tips to Use Liquin for Shorter Dry Times
- When using Liquin, do not mix too much of it with the paint - you only need a small amount. I'd suggest 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. This is one reason not to use too much, especially if you want the paint to remain more opaque.
- A painting that might take 3-5 days to dry will likely be dry in 24 hours or even less with Liquin. In some cases, I have had oil paint dry in a few hours, making it ready for me to layer on the next coat.
- Liquin is prone to changing color in the bottle as it ages, and it will go a kind of purple-brown color in time. However, it can still be used when it has changed color so don't worry about this development.
- There is a possibility that Liquin can bring on an allergic reaction, so check by testing a small amount on your hand or somewhere inconspicuous before using it.
- I've heard people say using this product in your paint makes the paint continue drying and causes it to crack over time. However, I have never found this to be the case.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is there a varnish that I can put over oil, and if so, when do I put it on?
Answer: Yes, you can get a special oil varnish in most art shops, but you need to wait until the painting is completely dry. This could be between 6-12 months after painting it!
Marian L (author) from UK on August 22, 2020:
Hi Annie, did you mix the Liquin with oil paint or just apply it directly? It is not supposed to be used on it's own so I am not sure how you would actually remove it to be honest, sorry.
Annie on August 22, 2020:
Help! I put a coat of Liquid over the finished painting, made sure it was smooth and level and still it dried in big streaks! How do I either get it back off or make it look right?
Marian L (author) from UK on September 02, 2018:
Hi Linda. No, you don't need to.
Linda on September 02, 2018:
Do you need to use retouch varnish after your painting has dried before you add the next layer?
SUBHAS SG on October 25, 2017:
its really very informative to beginners
markomitic from Toronto on June 28, 2011:
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.
Marian L (author) from UK on February 23, 2011:
Thanks very much!
Valerie Garner from Washington State on February 23, 2011:
Great information here, and I love your painting.