Understanding drying times for oil colour

Working with oil colour gives you a certain degree of flexibility while painting, as it takes longer to dry than other media. Should you want to alter your work days into a project, oil colour allows such changes to be made. Its malleable nature, in addition to the depth, purity and vibrancy of its pigment quality, makes oil colour a favourite among artists.

Familiarising yourself with the properties of various oil colours and their drying rates will help you achieve the best results, and avoid cracking and other mishaps. Generally oil colours become touch dry in thin films within two to 12 days, but the different reactions of different pigments when mixed with oil results in varying drying times, which will affect your work.

We’ve rounded up critical information about each of our key oil colour ranges and the drying rates of various colours for your convenience. Read on and print out the charts for easy reference when choosing your oil colours.

Artists’ Oil Colour drying times

Artists’ Oil Colour Drying times

Artists’ Oil Colour presents the best in traditional oil colour, including the purest pigments with the most suitable drying oils. The buttery, stiff consistency of Artists’ Oil Colour is ideal for retaining brush or palette knife strokes and can be thinned to a very fine glaze.

Fast drying oil colours
(around two days)

Medium drying oil colours
(around five days)

Slow drying oil colours
(more than five days)

Permanent Mauve (manganese)
Cobalt Blues
Prussian Blue
Raw Sienna
Umbers
Underpainting White
Winsor Blues and Greens (phthalocyanines)
Burnt Sienna
Cobalt Violet and Greens
Ultramarine Blues
Mars colours
Sap Green
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Ochres
Cadmiums
Lamp Black
Ivory Black
Winsor Yellows and Orange (arylides)
Quinacridones
Alizarin CrimsonTitanium White

Zinc White

Winton Oil Colour drying times

Winton Oil Colour Drying Times

Winton Oil Colour is ideal for artists requiring large volumes of colour and looking for affordable quality. The high level of pigmentation provides good covering power and tinting strength with stiff, uniform consistency. The 31 single pigments in the range allow cleaner, brighter mixes and infinite hues.

Fast drying oil colours
(around two days)

Medium drying oil colours
(around five days)

Slow drying oil colours
(more than five days)

Prussian Blue
Raw Sienna
Umbers
Phthalo Blue and Viridian Hue (phthalocyanines)
Burnt Sienna
Ultramarine Blues
Ochres
Titanium White
Zinc White
Lamp Black
Ivory Black
Cadmium Hues (arylamides)
Permanent Rose (quinacridone)
Alizarin Crimson Hue

Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour drying times

Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour Drying Times

The Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour range was developed to look and work like traditional oil colour, without requiring hazardous solvents. 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.

Fast drying oil colours
(around two days)

Medium drying oil colours
(around five days)

Slow drying oil colours
(more than five days)

Prussian Blue
Umbers
Cadmium Hues
Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)
Phthalo Greens
Siennas
French Ultramarine
Ochres
Titanium White
Zinc White
Lamp Black
Ivory Black
Cadmiums
Permanent Rose (quinacridone)
Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Additional Winsor & Newton Oil Colour ranges:

Griffin Alkyd Fast Drying Oil Colour has a high proportion of single pigments for brilliance of colour and clean colour mixing. It also boasts exceptional drying qualities. You can work with all colours in the range on your palette for between four and eight 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.

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

Also keep in mind the following when working with oil colour

  1. Avoid drying your paintings in continuous darkness or high humidity, as these conditions may cause yellowing of the oil.
  2. Adopt “slow drying over fast drying” as a philosophy when working with oil colours. Fast drying colours should be used continuously as under layers to avoid cracking.
  3. Explore our selection of oil colour mediums for drying to alter the drying times of various colours. Winsor & Newton Artists’ Painting Medium changes the rate of drying and influences the gloss and texture of colour. If you want to speed up the drying process, try Winsor & Newton Liquin Original to increase the drying rate by approximately 50%.

Read our guide to the three rules of working with oil colour for more tips. If you want to learn more about Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour, our feature on artist Marcus Coates‘ work explores this unique colour range.