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If you love the feel of oil paints but get frustrated with the drying time between layers, alkyd oil paint might be the solution for you. Made with a synthetic resin as the binder, it is a durable paint that reaches the touch-dry stage much more quickly than oils do; you can often return to your work the day after you put down your first layer. This makes alkyds well suited for plein air work as well. Once you try them and see how they allow you to maintain momentum, you just might never go back to the traditional stuff.
1. Gamblin FastMatte
Gamblin’s winning characteristic is in its name: Its FastMatte paint not only dries quickly—in about 24 hours—but does so with a matte finish that has subtle tooth. This makes it especially excellent for underpainting, as the surface virtually grabs and holds on to fresh paint, allowing you to build textures to your heart’s content. FastMatte also boasts a higher pigment load than less costly competitors such as Winsor & Newton’s Griffin line. It is quite a stiff paint, but you can thin it as you wish by mixing it with Galkyd or Gamsol. Our only complaint is that it comes in just 24 colors.
2. Da Vinci Fast-Dry
If a broader palette is what you seek, go with Da Vinci’s line, which includes 60 hues, from Cobalt Violet to Phthalo Blue. Compared with FastMatte’s paints these have a more buttery-smooth texture, but the dry time is less consistent from tube to tube: Some colors can take up to two days to dry. If you can spare the time, the intense colors you’ll get from these paints speak for themselves.
3. Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd
This student-grade paint is an excellent choice for those who are on a budget or are diving into alkyd paint for the first time. The lower price reflects the fact that the formula contains more fillers than higher-end products do. This results in slightly less pigmented paints, but they are still a pleasure and an ease to use. Griffin paints have a satisfyingly smooth texture, are consistent in their fast drying, and present a slightly glossy finish.
4. Grumbacher Alkyd Painting Medium
Say goodbye to brush drag with this painting medium, which can be mixed into your alkyd colors. In addition to lubricating your pigments for enhanced flow, it also accelerates their drying time so you can add another layer in just 12 or so hours.
5. C.A.S. AlkydPro
If you’re serious about your alkyd paints and have a generous budget, go with C.A.S.’s product. The crème de la crème in their class, these paints are a pure alkyd medium—there’s no linseed oil involved—so they maintain stunning, intense colors, are more flexible than the competition, and still dry quickly. Plus, the paint is available in 56 colors to cover all your needs.