Common Misconceptions People Have About Oil Painting

Art comes in many forms, including performance and visual. One of the most classic disciplines is oil painting. However, with popularity comes rumors that are simply untrue. Unfortunately, they've become so prevalent that it's stopped certain people from even giving oil painting a shot.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions People Have About Oil Painting?

Myth: Oil Paint Does Not Dry Right Away

Truth: It's probably one of the most typical ones out there. In fact, that's the first thing that comes to mind when people think of oil painting. This is true for any kind of paint in particular circumstances. 

If oil paint is applied in incredibly thick layers, then it will indeed take quite some time before drying. Puddling or the impasto technique, for example, will lead to a drying time of anywhere from a week or two. Incredibly thick impasto can even take months. Color can also affect drying speed, though it depends on what it is. However, if the layer of paint is opaque, smooth, and thin, the waiting period for drying won't last longer than 24 hours.

Medium makes a difference in oil paint drying time as well. Clove oil, for example, can lead drying time to go from days up to weeks. With linseed oil, on the other hand, the paint dries in a matter of hours. Within a day (24 hours), it will be fully dried.

Myth: Oil Paint Is Toxic

Truth: There is absolutely no toxicity involved with oil paints or painting with them. In fact, worries about adverse effects should be reserved for people who eat oil paints: basically, nobody. 

There is no reason to be wary of this. Most pigments are nontoxic and entirely safe to use, largely because they have natural oil and pigment. That said, there are a select few oil paints that can be considered toxic: cadmium, lead-white, and cobalt. However, their toxicity is only when dry pigment is breathed in before any oil is mixed in. 

Thankfully, synthetic alternatives can serve as substitutes, which are far safer. Chances are, this myth came about due to events involving unnecessary mediums and practices that are unsafe.

Myth: Painting Using Oil Is Hard

Truth: It's likely much less about the paint and way more about the instructions or methods. Many people who give up after some time of trying oil painting usually encounter difficulties with other mediums as well. There's really not much difference between learning oil painting and other processes of making art. 

A great way to solve this is through getting lessons or some sort of mentorship. Proper guidance can go a long way, especially with oil paint.


Oil painting is a rather classic art technique. However, it's so popular that it's led to certain myths. Typical misconceptions include oil painting as difficult (not true), oil paint taking forever to dry (not reallydepends on layers and medium), as well as oil paint being incredibly toxic and unsafe (just a few).

Are you looking for oil painting tips? E. John Robinson can teach you all his secrets to becoming a true artist. Purchase his instructional oil painting lessons today!

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