All artists know that oil paints are notorious for drying agonizingly slowly. Most brands these days take anywhere from 6 hours to an entire day just so they are dry to the touch. Now, does oil paint dry faster in the sun compared to just leaving them alone for a day? Will the sun damage the oil paints, like discoloring the pigments?
This article will elaborate on whether sun exposure can indeed hasten the drying process. You will also be learning about the other methods that you can dry your oil paints aside from sun drying.
Does Oil Paint Dry Faster in the Sun?
Another way to ask the question would be does sunlight help oil paints dry faster? Although it may seem like oil paintings dry faster when left out in the sun, it is not because of the heat from the sun. The real MVP here is the wind or breeze flowing over the paint.
Oil paints do not contain any water, so the heat from the sun will not cause the carrier oils to evaporate. Oil paints dry due to oxidation. So, when you expose oil paints to cold, moving air, it will make the carrier oils oxidize and dry. Heat has very minimal to no effect on oil paints.
When you place your oil painting in a place that has excellent ventilation and air circulation, it will dry much faster compared to leaving it in an enclosed space. If you want, you can place a fan in front of the painting so that there will always be air flowing on the surface.
Drawbacks to Leaving Your Oil Painting Exposed to Direct Sunlight
Note, though, that in addition to providing benefits, leaving your oil paintings to dry under the sun may also have several drawbacks.
Causes the Fading of Colors
Beginners at oil painting usually do not know the potential drawbacks of placing an oil painting in direct sunlight, primarily exposing the pigments to ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is a component of sunlight, and it can cause the pigments in oil paints to fade.
Even though modern oil paints are highly-resistant to ultraviolet light, they are not immune to it. Aside from the oil paint pigments, the UV light could also affect the other materials used in your painting, like sealant, varnish, and others. Most chemicals used in paintings can be quite robust but UV light can still adversely affect them.
Debris Sticking on the Paints
Aside from the ultraviolet light, another thing that you need to be concerned with is bugs, dust, and other debris carried by the wind. Even if you are fairly certain that there is not that much dust in your place, there are surely bits of it in the air. You might not see them unless you look at the surface of the painting closely.
The worst-case scenario would be leaves or insects sticking on the surface of the tacky paint. If you don’t get the insects out of the paint before it dries, the bug will be stuck there forever.
Methods to Make Your Oil Paints Dry Faster
Aside from leaving your oil painting outside to dry, there are different other methods that you can use to hasten the drying process.
Using A Drying Medium
The cheapest and fastest way to make oil paints dry faster is by using a fast-drying medium with your paints. One of the best mediums that you can use is distilled turpentine. You can also use a product called “liquin”, which you can find in almost all art supplies stores.
Because oil paints dry due to oxidation, you can make them dry faster by improving the ventilation in the room. Most people would just open a window, but that will also cause dust and debris to blow into the room. The better option would be to use a cheap electric fan placed around a foot and a half away from the surface of the oil painting.
Applying the Oil Paints in Thin Layers
Although this might seem like the most obvious option, you can make the oil paints dry faster by applying them in thin layers. The thicker the oil paint layer is, the longer it will take to dry. On the other hand, painting using thinner layers also means it will take you longer to finish your painting.
Even though there are certain situations and painting styles that require the application of a thicker paint layer, most of the time, you can get away with thinner layers just so your painting will dry quickly. In addition, the oxidation process works exponentially. In other words, even just a slight reduction of paint will make it dry up quicker.
Do oil paints dry faster in the sun? At first glance, it seems so, but the truth is that sunlight does not affect the drying time at all. The thing that shortens the drying time of oil paints is oxidation, which only happens when you expose them to air. Exposing oil paints to direct sunlight can be detrimental, so you should avoid doing it at all.