View Full Version : Storage; drying time; commission questions

03-13-2019, 05:34 PM
Does anyone have any cheapo ideas for storing oil paintings while they are drying? I have a very limited space with very few flat areas and no floor space where a dog or cat cannot get to it. I do not have a budget to buy some of those nifty wet canvas carriers I have seen for plein air painting. I am running out of places to put them... LOL!

Also, I need my paintings to dry quicker. I use M. Graham paints and I am using small quantities of Gamblin alkyd medium, but the paintings take a long time to dry. I read of people having dry layers in 24 hours. :eek: It takes weeks for my paintings to dry to the touch... Am I doing something wrong?

I am trying to do most of my paintings alla prima, but I would like them to dry in a reasonable time so that they can be transported. How do you all handle commissions with oil paints? I am in the middle of a multi-painting commission that has been with acrylics, thus far, but the next painting will be with oils and I am stressing over how long it will take to dry.

Harold Roth
03-13-2019, 06:53 PM
I use M. Graham and Williamsburg mostly and don't use alkyds much, mostly in Graham's titanium rapid dry. My medium is plain walnut oil. My paintings are dry in a few days. BUT I noticed this summer when the humidity was high in my studio (because the water table is very high and my studio is behind a high berm) that they did indeed take at least a week. Are you in a very humid area? Or painting in a basement?

Before I got a studio, I kept my wet paintings on a wire shelving unit on the upper shelves. My cats seem to realize that they can't walk even on the lower shelves.

03-13-2019, 09:19 PM
Harold, thank you. Yes, I paint in a basement and our property is in a swampy area. It is also cold down there. I don't know how to remedy that situation. Do thinner layers dry quicker? I do not have a lot of experience at it, yet. I want to make thicker layers, though. Oh, well. I am painting away and doing research.

03-13-2019, 09:47 PM
M.Graham is ground in walnut oil, which is a slow drying oil. You might consider trying a different oil paint, or just a different, faster drying oil. Linseed oil is very common in oil paints and is a faster dryer than walnut. Another approach would be to use a medium that speeds drying. You might consider one of they alkyd mediums offered by Gamblin. They also offer solvent-free alkyd mediums if that is an issue. An increasing number of oil paint manufacturers also offer alkyd mediums now, not just Gamblin.

For storage, you might consider relatively flat cardboard boxes. If you use canvas panels you can attach a binder clip at each corner of the painting (or perhaps, you could try this with or stretched canvas no deeper than 3/4", but I haven't done this myself so I can't be sure it'll work). The little metal wings that you squeeze to open up the clip can then be used to hold the face of the painting away from the surface of the box. Here's a link to a better description:
Although the thread is about a wet panel carrier design, the concept is the same for storing paintings. Depending on how deep they are, you may be able to get a few in one box. You'd need to find a box that will not only accommodate the size of your canvas surface, but also have a little leeway for the wings of the clips to stand out from the edge of the painting (don't fold them down on top of the surface!).

03-13-2019, 10:36 PM
Thank you, Annie. I do use Gamblin alkyd solvent free medium. It does not seem to make much difference. I may have to change paint brands. The storage idea sounds good. 😊

03-13-2019, 11:05 PM
Overhead cabinet

03-13-2019, 11:12 PM
This might help you:
Re: Drying rates for various brands, colors
and from http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1185672 (plein air forum)

I kind of think the people whose paint is dry in 24 hours or fewer are possibly using paints that dry fast, and are possibly in a dry climate.

Harold Roth
03-14-2019, 06:03 AM
NTL has a good point about using paints that dry fast. I deliberately chose the pigments I use because they are known as fast dryers--cobalts, earths--and then I do use alkyds for the rest, like an occasional dioxazine purple. I use Graham's walnut alkyd. I don't paint thick, but when I do, it does take up to a week to dry in my studio right now, when it is not anywhere near as humid as it is in summer.

Re dealing with the humidity, a dehumidifier really helps. I've got a small air conditioner that I am going to use just to dehumidify in there once it warms up.

03-14-2019, 07:39 AM
Switch to Winsor & Newton, try using more earth colors such as Umbers, and Prussian Blue, this are super fast drying pigments.

Try getting sunlight, a wood box with a glass lid where you can put your painting for example, do some tests to avoid crackings if you cure your paintings this way.

03-14-2019, 11:35 AM
You didn't mention how large your canvases (or boards) are.

I only work with small boards. To speed drying, I use a heating pad (the kind used for sore muscles). Either that, or I place the board in a protective plastic case (the kind used for storage), in sunlight for warmth.

Might not work if I did impasto, but I only do thin layers.

Consider adding siccative. I use CoZiCa. Won't work for everyone.

03-14-2019, 12:37 PM
I thought of one additional idea: if you work fairly small, there are inexpensive clear plastic document storage boxes available that would be protective. You might need to employ the binder clip idea to keep the piece from touching the inside surface of the box, but this would allow you to store the piece upright, like a book.

03-14-2019, 01:58 PM
Some things to consider when you choose your storage / drying solution.

You will need a free exchange of oxygen in order to have the oils cure fast. Heat is also a big plus. If you put your wet paintings into an air tight or almost air tight container of some kind, drying time might be extended significantly. If you or someone you know has moderate carpentry skills, you could build a tall but fairly narrow drying cabinet that would allow a free exchange of FILTERED air for dramatic dust reduction, plus some additional heat as needed from something as simple as a small warming lamp in there, for not a heck of a lot of money.

As for the paint drying time, if you want the fastest drying time you can get without adding stuff to the paint, you might want to use premixed Alkyd oils. There are a few out there that offer them. If I were going to buy a complete set of alkyd oils, I would probably go with Gamblin offering because they dry to an even matte / satin sheen for all colors. You can then modify that to glossy later with Gamvar as your final varnish.

From memory, I recall that Galkyd solvent free gel is not that fast of a drying medium. Their regular Galkyd Gel dried faster for me I think. Are you using just that or do you have some other Alkyd mediums? When I add a bit of Galkyd Lite to my paints, they almost always are dry to the touch by the next day unless painted very thickly. If you want faster drying than Galkyd Lite or regular Galkyd (Not the solvent free) can give you, try some CoZiCa dryer.

03-14-2019, 02:58 PM
Or try acrylic paints, they will dry fast.

03-14-2019, 06:53 PM
Do thinner layers dry quicker? I do not have a lot of experience at it, yet. I want to make thicker layers, though. Oh, well. I am painting away and doing research.

Yes, thinner layers dry much quicker. I would say the thickness of the paint is by far the most important factor in drying time. In my experience, thin layers applied with a brush are almost always dry in 3 to 4 days maximum. Layers applied with a knife - even as thin as is possible with a knife - can easily take 2 weeks or more. Thick layers would obviously take even longer.