As they watch their children vigorously play with colors on a canvas, the one question many parents have is, how long does it take for acrylic paint to dry? Children don’t have the patience to let acrylic paint dry before they can start their next experiment. They want to immediately paint something new or paint on the same canvas. They also touch the painting to figure out if it has completely dried. Which leaves parents asking questions for which they need immediate answers.
As a seller of painting supplies for kids, our answer always has been that it all depends on what you are trying to achieve in your acrylic painting and the particular style you are aiming for. So, let’s try and address some of the most common questions in acrylic painting.
It depends on the concentration of the paint. If it’s a thin layer of acrylic paint, it will dry in a couple of minutes. If you have applied a thick layer, which is what usually happens in craft painting, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for it to completely dry. If you want the paint to be thinner, all you have to do is add water to it using your brush.
It also depends on environmental factors. If the weather isn’t dry enough, it may take longer than usual for acrylic paint to dry. Keep in mind that one of the advantages of using acrylic paint on canvas is that, when compared to gouache or watercolor, it dries pretty quickly.
It boils down to the effect you want to create. Acrylic paint offers immense possibilities to play with. You can create textures of varying hues and depths. If you don’t want the paint in the inner layer to mix with the outer layer, you should wait for it to dry. Depending on the thickness of the paint, it could take anywhere between 2 minutes and half an hour.
Whether or not you want to paint over dried acrylic paint depends on the kind of layering you want to achieve. If you want the inner layer not to be disturbed, you should wait for it to be dry to the touch. But if you are planning to generate glazes, you can add wet acrylic paint before the inner layer has had a chance to dry. This will lead to beautiful, and at times, totally unexpected results on canvas.
Plus, this is something kids love. They get to discover more interesting shades of colors as the painting progresses. Interestingly, this is also what professional artists seem to prefer.
Varnishing is an excellent method to protect your acrylic paintings from aging, yellowing, and dust. If you want your kid’s artworks to have a long shelf life, you should give serious thought to applying varnish on their paintings. If you decide to get them varnished, first make sure that the painting is finished.
Then you should leave it untouched for a week for the acrylic paint to completely dry. Remember that even if it feels dry when you touch it, the inner layers could still be wet. Finally, you can go for varnishing to give the painting a matte, satin, or gloss effect.
Along with ‘how long does it take for acrylic paint to dry?’ another common question we are often asked is how can acrylic paint dry faster. Depending on the weather, it usually takes a couple of minutes for a thin layer to dry, and about half an hour for a thick layer to dry. But sometimes you could be in a hurry. In such cases, the easiest way is to use an air dryer. Make sure that it’s at a low setting and then gently hover it evenly over the paint. You could also keep the painting under a lamp to get it to dry faster.
Conversely, sometimes you may want acrylic paint to dry slower. This usually happens when you or the kids are painting outdoors in the sun. It can be irritating if the paint dries before you have had a chance to layer it with another shade. When you are painting outside, your palette may also dry fast, which is an even bigger problem. What you need in such situations is a water sprayer or atomizer.
Gently spray the palette with the atomizer regularly and the paint won’t dry fast when you are outdoors. If that’s too cumbersome, you could go for special palettes that stay wet even if the surrounding area is dry.
So, now you will be able to answer when your kids ask you if it’s okay to paint on the existing layer or should they wait a bit longer. As kids find their rhythm painting and experimenting with colors, you will be easily able to figure out how much they want to mix and match. The real magic with acrylic happens when they surprise you and themselves with what they achieve.