Understanding the drying times for Oil Colour

oil drying times
Artists need time to think. What worked well today may need to be changed, altered or improved on tomorrow. One of the best things about working in oil colour is that it takes longer to dry than other media, allowing this thinking process to happen and providing the flexibility for changes to be made.

However, not all colours dry at the same rate. Generally colours become touch dry in thin films in 2-12 days but the different reaction of each pigment when mixed with oil results in different drying times which will affect your work.

Knowing more about these drying rates can help you avoid the problem of having slow drying under layers affecting faster layers above and causing cracking. Remember one of the three rules of oil painting is ‘slow drying over fast drying’ – fast drying colours should be used continuously as under layers.

This is a guide to drying rates:

Artists’ Oil Colour
Fast Drying - around 2 days
Permanent Mauve [manganese], Cobalt Blues, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Umbers, Flake, Foundation and Cremnitz Whites [lead].

Medium drying
- around 5 days
Winsor Blues and Greens [Phthalocyanines], Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Violet and Greens, Ultramarine Blues, Mars colours [synthetic iron oxides], Sap Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ochres, Cadmiums, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black, Pyrroles, Bismuth Yellow, Perylenes.

Slow drying - more than 5 days
Winsor Yellows and Orange (Arylides), Quinacridones, Alizarin Crimson.

Winton Oil Colour
Fast drying  - around 2 days
Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Umbers.

Medium Drying
- around 5 days
Phthalo Blue and Viridian Hue (Phthalocyanines), Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blues, Synthetic Iron Oxides, Ochres, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black.

Slow Drying - more than 5 days
Cadmium Hues (Arylamides), Permanent Rose (Quinacridone), Alizarin Crimson Hue.

Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour

When Artisan is thinned with water, the water evaporates from the paint film quite rapidly, leaving behind a conventional film of oil that dries through contact with oxygen in the air. This means that the paint film is different to that of conventional oil colour, for example you may notice that the surface is very slightly tacky, which is normal.  

As with traditional oil colour, Artisan colours have different drying rates. Here is a guide to their drying rates :

Fast drying
- around 2 days
Prussian Blue, Umbers.

Medium Drying - around 5 days
Cadmium Hues, Phthalo Blue (red shade) and Phthalo Greens, Siennas, French Ultramarine, Synthetic Iron Oxides, Ochres, Titanium White, Zinc White, Lamp Black, Ivory Black.

Slow drying - more than 5 days
Cadmiums, Permanent Rose (Quinacridone), Permanent  Alizarin Crimson.

Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour

Griffin Fast Drying Oil Colour has exceptional drying qualities. You can work with all colours in the range on your palette for between 4 and 8 hours. These become touch dry on the canvas in 18 to 24 hours. However, remember that the thickness of the paint and the temperature of the room you are working in will also affect the drying times of your work.

Try to avoid the temptation of varnishing your work as soon as you have finished. The colour needs to be completely dry and we recommend waiting at least 3 months before varnishing.

This is wonderful to work with on the canvas and the colours will become touch dry in 2 to 7 days.

Mediums for Drying
There are a number of ways that you can alter the drying times. For example Winsor & Newton Artists’ Painting Medium will change the rate of drying, as well as influencing the gloss and texture of the colour. If you want to speed up the drying process then Winsor & Newton Liquin Original would be a good choice, which increases the drying rate by approximately 50%.

On a final note, please remember to avoid drying your paintings in continuous darkness or high humidity as these conditions may cause yellowing of the oil.

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