Waiting on your oil paints to dry always seem to take forever. There are a number of ways to speed up the process, such as additives and better circulation, but what about light? Does oil paint dry faster in the sun? Oil paints will definitely dry out faster with a few hours of sunlight. The layers will often come out a little brighter for it, too, but you might want to try to do it indoors, so that you don’t get dust caught in the still-drying paint or risk any surprise rain washing your work away.
In this article I’ll cover the subject in a little more depth so that you’ll have an extra option at your disposal for when you are drying your work. Let’s talk about the sun and your oil paints!
Does oil paint dry faster outside?
Oil paints will dry faster outside – unless you prepare an inside drying area. While you could just leave the painting outside for a few hours, most of us are going to be a bundle of nerves doing this. You have to factor in wind, possible rain, dust… it’s a bit much. A better way to go about things is to dry your painting inside, where it can get a little sun, and you can hasten the process with a fan and a dehumidifier.
If you do it this way, then you don’t have to worry about inclement weather or the painting getting dust embedded in the still-drying paint, but you still get the advantages of sun-drying your work and you get a faster drying time to boot.
So, in answer to the question, yes, oil paint will dry faster outside, unless you create an even better drying environment inside!
Can you put oil paintings in the sun?
Yes, you can, though you can expect some minor fading and if you are nitpicky like I am, then a little is too much. That said, if you are selling paintings somewhere at an outside venue, you can definitely put them out. I’d recommend a canopy, but that is going to be up to you.
The paintings should be fine, however, as those layers are going to be fairly resilient when it comes to sunlight. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see street artists selling their wares out in broad daylight. Both acrylics and oils are highly resistant to the sun and so it’s not generally going to be a problem.
The only exception that I’d like to bring to your attention would be your car. Don’t leave paintings in your car, because it’s not just about the light, it’s also about heat. While the painting itself should be fairly resistant to both light and heat, those frames and any exposed canvas will NOT be. Cars heat up really fast and this can actually damage your paintings if they are left in there long enough.
So, outside sunlight is good, inside-a-car sunlight is not so good!
What happens to oil paint in the sun?
Oil paint undergoes a process called curing, which takes anywhere from 6 months to a year, and each day the paint becomes more and more resilient. Even at it’s weakest, the layers of paint that you’ve arranged on your composition are generally going to protect the canvas beneath it and will only suffer very minor fading.
If the painting is varnished already, then it’s possible that it won’t even suffer the fading. Varnish is designed to be water and UV resistant, adding an extra coat of protection to carry your painting safely through the years, and so a little sunlight isn’t going to be a big deal.
As far as the paints themselves, say ones you’ve stored in jars, those you should definitely keep out of the sunlight. Prolonged exposure day after day will eventually lighten up your colors and that’s definitely something that you don’t want. For those, you want to always keep them in a cool, dry place for best results.
As far as the paintings themselves, though, they’ll be fine, but they will fade a little with all of that light, so you’ll have to decide if that is acceptable or not for yourself.
Some closing words
Does oil paint dry faster in the sun? Yes, it does. Sunlight can speed up your drying time, but think long and hard about whether you want to do this inside or outside. While drying your paintings outside has a sort of charm to it, it also puts you at risk of rain or a handful of dust being blown into the wet paint. Set up a drying room inside and you can get the best of both worlds without risking your hard work.
In case you wanted to know more about that ‘minor fading’ I mentioned, I’ve found a 3rd party link for you that studies the impact of light on oils and you can view it here. I hope that you enjoy it and I’ll see you again in the next article!