5 Reasons why your oil paint is drying so fast

Oil paints are known for their slow drying time. The reason is that they consist of some amount of oils that are low in vapor pressure. When these oils get mixed with pigments, they promote the slow drying of oil paints. One of the reasons to add oil to paints is their glossy and shiny look.

So, we come to know that oil paints are slow dryers as compared to other paints like acrylics or watercolors. This slow drying time gave us a good grip on the painting in terms of more time and more adjustment. This is why oil paintings are more in detail and depth.

Table of Contents

5 Reasons behind fast drying time

“Oil paints usually take a long time to dry but if they are drying at a faster rate then there could be some environmental and surrounding reasons including hot weather conditions, direct contact with sunlight, presence of a heater near the painting in cold weather, use of low-quality oil paints, using a little amount of linseed oil, not properly thinning down oil paints or using an excess amount of fast drying pigments such as zinc white, titanium white, etc”

I am also elaborating on these reasons so that you can understand them very well.

  • Reason 1: You have placed your oil painting in a place where it is directly contacting with sunlight as it soaks all the paint at a faster rate.
  • Reason 2: Suppose, you are living in a place where the weather is very hot. Your painting is not getting the optimal temperature to stay wet.
  • Reason 3: Low-quality of oil paints can also affect the drying time because manufacturers add a little number of original pigments. The quantity of oil is also low in such paints. Here are some of the good-quality paints that you should prefer rather than low-quality paints
  • Reason 4: You are not properly thinning down your oil paints which are so important not just to let the paints dry in a moderate time but also to get a good glossy touch. Use a paint thinner in a medium amount and avoid adding too much.
  • Reason 5: You are using an excess amount of fast-drying pigments such as zinc white or any other pigments which are a lot brighter to get dry quickly.

Solutions to control the fast drying of oil paint

Fast Solution

Liquitex Professional Effects Medium, 118ml (4-oz), Slow-Dry Fluid Retarder

Liquitex Professional Effects Medium, 118ml (4-oz), Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder

  • Glossy Finish
  • Increase drying time
  • Work on oil paints as well
  • Detail enhancer
  • Binder-free

About Slow Drying Retarder

Liquitex drying retarder comes in a 118 ml plastic bottle with a retail price of 12-15 US dollars. It is like linseed oil but thinner in consistency. Linseed oil works to thin the oil paint and improve flow and also helps to increase drying time. The drying retarder will also work in the same way to increase the drying time and provide a glossy finish after drying.

Slow-drying retarders are specifically made for acrylic paints but they can be used for oil paints too but only if it is drying too fast. We also want to highlight some negative effects of using retarders in oil paints as well. Adding an additional amount of retarders can make the paint extra slow to dry. Make sure to add only a few drops.

To use this, use your brush to thin down the oil paint with a retarder. It will work exactly the same as linseed oil but it a balanced quantity of retarder will moderate the drying time of your oil paints.


Special future: Fade Resistant | Item volume: 4 Fluid Ounces | Item form: Liquid | Built for Acrylic

Note: This item is built for acrylics but we are using this in oils for the same purpose to increase the drying time.

Our Ratings: 4.8 Out of 5

Price at the time of publishing: 12.99$

What we Like!

  • Value for money
  • Glossy finish
  • Fade resistance
  • Sheerness

What we Don’t Like!

  • A large quantity could make drying time extra slow

There could be several reasons that your oil paint is drying quickly. Once you understand that reason clearly, you can possibly adjust the situation. There can be several remedies that you can adopt to stop the fast drying:

  • If you have a studio that is outdoors or at a place where sunlight can easily interact with the paintings then change the place and shift it to a place of medium light intensity. You can also shift to completely indoors.
  • Use linseed oil because it slows the drying time. Oil paints come with already addition of linseed oil but you can use some extra amount of it during mixing oil paints on a palette. If linseed oil is not available then safflower and walnut oils can also be used.
  • If any kind of heater is present inside the studio then turn it off because the rising temperature means the promotion of fast drying.
  • You can also thicken your paint by not using so much thinner. Do this only when you think your painting can suit thick layers.
  • Turn the fan OFF
  • You can use a drying retarder also

Suitable temperature for oil paintings

Maintain a chilly temperature if you want an average drying time. The suitable temperature is between 27 to 30 Degree Centigrade.

Note: This temperature can be adjust by fans, windows and offcourse ventillation. 

How long do oil paints take to dry on canvas – Average drying time

The drying time of oil paints depends on so many factors the thickness of the layer, the quantity of oil, temperature, humidity, and light intensity. But the average drying time of a 1mm thick layer can be 1 day to a week including all the variable factors.

This time can slow if you use slow-drying pigments such as Zinc white, Titanium white Alizarin crimson, etc. This time can be fast if you are using pigments such as cobalt, natural earth, transparent iron oxides, etc.

Does oil paint dry faster in the sun?

Son plays the most active role in drying oil painting a lot quicker because sun rays contain UV rays which increase the temperature to evaporate the oil paint 2x times faster.

If you want a fast drying time, then don’t place your oil painting directly under the sunlight because it could damage the original glow of oil paints to make them look dull and dusty.

If you want to prevent your oil painting to dry faster, then you should place it under a shady area where no light can interact with the oil paint.

Oil paint drying time between layers

Oil painting is always done in the form of layers. You make a primary layer to shape the art then you paint another layer over and over. The average drying time between layers can be slow because layer over layer blocks some of the oxygen amounts to let the upper layer dry slowly.

The average time can be 2 to 12 days. This time continuously increases when you paint another layer over the other. That’s why oil paintings look dry enough by touching the upper surface but they are not completely dried internally.

how long for oil paint dry on wood

Wood is made up of cellulose and a perfectly flat-looking woody surface is not actually flat due to the presence of several pores.

Usually, oil paint takes the same time to dry on wood as it takes on canvas. This time can be between 24 hours to 72 hours or even a week depending on the thickness of the layer. The reason for this fast drying time is that wood contains pores that oil paint gets absorbed.

oil paint drying time on metal

Metal is solid which doesn’t soak the oil paints resulting in more consistent flow over a metal surface. But this does not affect the drying time so much. Usually, it will take 2 days to let your first oil paint layer dry completely over a metal surface. Metal is not a preferred surface for oil paintings.

Final Words

To conclude, your oil paint is drying faster due to several reasons which are different from place to place. Maybe you are living in a cold area and even if there is a low temperature and you still face the same issue of fast drying.

All these problems once happen to every beginner who starts oil painting for the first time. Oil paintings are also like humans because they also need proper care, ventilation, and temperature. As protection, they need varnish.

Make sure you have good knowledge about every situation if you are planning to start oil painting because it is not as simple as it looks. But it is as fruitful as it is hard.


Read Also:

Leave a Reply