Does Oil Paint Ever Truly Dry? The Facts Explained

Does Oil Paint Ever Truly Dry?

Artists who choose to paint with oils understand the nature of this paint. Because oil paintings frequently consist of layer upon layer of color, the drying process is lengthy. So, while waiting for your oil painting to dry, consider some other things you can do with the leftover paint. 

Oil paint does dry but it takes more time than watercolor paint. One layer of oil paint can take up to six hours to dry. Placing the painting in a cardboard box and sitting it in the sun will dry the paint faster. The paint surface also influences the drying time as wood driesOpens in a new tab. quicker than metal.

Oil paint is durable and can create multi-tone paintings unlike other paint types. Keep reading to learn creative ways to use leftover oil paint for new projects. Don’t despair if the paint takes a while to dry because the final product will be amazing. 

Does Oil Paint Ever Truly Dry? The Facts Explained

When Is Oil Paint Truly Dry

Understanding the unique characteristics of oil paint will help you remain patient when working with this medium. Because oil paint composition is oil and pigment, it will not dry quickly like watercolor or acrylic paint which are water-based. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of oil paint. 

Attributes of Oil Paint

Oil paints form from two components. Many scholarsOpens in a new tab. believe that artists first used oil paints in the seventh century. Over time, this paint gained popularity due to its rich colors and slow-drying nature, allowing artists to go back and make changes more quickly. Oil paint has two main properties.

  • Oil is the binder for oil paint. While some painters initially used walnut or poppy oil, most oil paint binder is linseed oil. 
  • Pigments form the color of oil paint. Pigment colors are frequently organic, like minerals and clay from the earth, while the white pigment is synthetic, created in a lab. 

Originally, artists would mix the binder and pigment to create a thick paste. However, current oil paints come in a metal tube in premixed tones for easy transportation and use. 

Oil Paint Takes a Long Time To Dry

Oil paint dries through oxidation, a chemical reaction where the oil reacts with oxygen to turn from a liquid to a solid. The paint dries but never loses its luster or intense color.

One layer of oil paint can take between seven to nine hours to dry. Because most artists who use oil paint use more than one color and multiple layers, an oil painting can take days to dry. 

Another factor in how long oil paint takes to dry is the surface material that is painted. Because of the pores and textural finish, a wood, drywall, or canvas base takes less time to dry than oil paint on metal 

Characteristics You Want in Oil Paint

Many artists and painters love oil paint for several reasons. It is the most long-lasting paint for art and other uses. When you choose high-quality oil paint, you can achieve a superior outcome. Here are some characteristics your oil paint should have. 

  • Mixing compatibility: Your oil paints should mix well and retain their intense colors.
  • Lightfast color: When exposed to light, the oil paint should not lose its color or lighten at all.
  • Workable consistency: Oil paint should be thick and easy to mix without the oil separating from the pigment.
  • Drying time: You need to know how long each oil paint takes to dry since cracking can happen when one layer is not dry and you paint over it.

Where To Use Leftover Oil Paint

If you have oil paint leftover and don’t want to waste the paint, there are other applications for the paint aside from pictures. Utilizing the oil paint will save you money as this is an expensive resource and give new life to another item. Here are some ways to use leftover oil paint.

Repaint Canvas or Old Pictures

If you are ready to refresh your home decor, head to a thrift shop to find an old canvas or picture with a frame. You can find inspiration online for an image to paint to bring new life to a room in your home. By reusing an old canvas, you can recycle the materials and the paints for a new creation.

Teach Your Children and Their Friends To Paint With Oils

ChildrenOpens in a new tab. twelve and older can use oil paints successfully. Not only can painting give them a wonderful outlet to express themselves, but you can also turn this into a science lesson by demonstrating how oil and water do not mix. 

Here is an excellent instructional activity:

  1. Use heavy paper and lay it out on a covered surface.
  2. Put some water in several bowls and add watercolor paint to each bowl.
  3. Let the children paint the paper with watercolors. 
  4. Demonstrate how the oil paint will not dissolve into the water. 
  5. Let them use the old oil paint to make designs over the watercolor on the paper. 
  6. Set this in the sun to dry and they can enjoy the marbled effect of the two paints. 

You don’t need professional suppliesOpens in a new tab. for this painting activity when you substitute inexpensive things you likely already have. Substitute: 

  • Popsicle sticks for palette knives.
  • Wax paper for heavy stock paper.
  • Baby oil for brush cleaner.

Paint a Jewelry or Wooden Box

Wooden boxes can be ideal for creating a design with oil paints. You can paint a floral pattern, your initials, or a geometric design. You can frequently find wooden boxes at a thrift shop or you can paint on thrifted glass for a decorative candy bowl. Use your imagination to create a personal item for your home. 

Final Words

If you want to use leftover oil paint instead of placing it in the freezer for future use, there are many projects appropriate for oil paint. When you thrift the base item or canvas, this can be an extension of using oil paints creatively. Teaching your children and their friends to paint with oils can be fun for any afternoon. 

Florent Farges – arts
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Ines, a self-taught artist from Caracas now based in the UK, explores diverse forms of art, from unconventional materials to sustainable and responsible use of resources.

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