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Oil Paint Drying Times

January 19, 1999, Author: WetCanvas Editors

One of the most common questions asked by novice oil painters is "how long does it take for my painting to dry?" Generally speaking, oil paints will dry to the touch between 1-2 weeks after application. The actual drying time depends on the type of pigments contained within the paint, or to simplify, the colors that you use. For example titanium white dries slow, as it contains pigment derived from titanium oxide. Conversely, flake white dries very rapidly, as it contains pigments derived from lead. Oil paints dry due to oxidation. In other words, exposure of the pigments and binding oil to air. You can refer to this simple table to determine the drying times for most major colors:

Estimates: Fast=2 days, Medium=5 days, Slow=5+ days

Category Color Drying Time
Whites Flake Rapid
  Zinc Slow
  Titanium Slow
Blacks  Ivory Slow
  Mars Fast
  Lamp Slow
Yellows Cadiums Slow
  Naples Fast
  Ochre Medium
  Hansa Slow
  Mars Medium
  Cobalt Fast
  Indian Yellow  Fast
Yellow-Red Cadmium Orange Slow
Reds Cadmiums Slow
  Alizarin Slow
  Mars Medium
Earths Umbers Fast
  Siennas Fast
Purple Cobalt Violet Medium
  Manganese Fast
  Mars Medium
Blues Ultramarine Slow
  Cobalt Medium-Fast
  Cerulean Slow
  Manganese Fast
  Phthalo Fast
  Prussian Blue  Fast
Greens Viridian Slow
  Terre Verte Slow
  Phthalo Fast