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I am asking this question on behalf of my friend who is an artist. He has been doing a painting with oil and has used drying linseed oil and turpentine oil on it to make it dry faster as he was in a hurry.

It has been almost 2 weeks since. However, now he needs to work with the painting again.

The question is that he doesn’t want to just paint over the existing one. He has been using oil paint as a “translucent medium” by mixing the paint with more oil to ensure that the bottom layers of the paint can also be seen through. In this situation, where the painting might have dried, is it possible to make it modifiable again?

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  • When you say the bottom layers of paint are see through, are you talking about down to the ground? So instead of, for example, mixing red with white paint to get pink the artist is using the white of the canvas with heavily oiled straight up red paint to get the same tint?
    – rebusB
    Commented Feb 26 at 14:20
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    "work with the painting" needs to be better defined...
    – rebusB
    Commented Feb 28 at 16:35

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You can't make the oil modifiable again, no.

If your friend added the drying linseed oil and turpentine to existing oil paints (and not just pigments), it really depends on the ratio whether it improved drying time or not.

We have several answered questions on the drying time of oils, which I recommend perusing, or sending to your friend. You can find these on the right side of this page (they were automatically linked to your question based on keywords and tags).
The general response to how long the drying of oil paints take is that it depends on so many variables that we can't really give any concrete answer: humidity, temperature, the aforementioned ratio of oils and pigments and other additives, the amounts and types of oils and pigments used, &c. all have a bearing on drying time.

Depending on the thickness and current state, your friend might be able to add additional layers, but be sure to heed the fat over lean rule: any new layer must consist of more oil than the former, so the painting will dry from the bottom (canvas/panel) upwards, and provide a (more) stable whole.
I realize you mention your friend "doesn’t want to just paint over the existing one", but he has to retain the transparency anyway (because of the required addition of oil), and this is the only stable way to adjust the current painting.

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  • Depends on what the OP means by "modifiable". After two weeks you can still dissolve the paint easily with turps but it will be messy, modifiable but messy. No it will not be anything like working with wet oils, but you can kind of 'erase' what is there and work back into it.
    – rebusB
    Commented Feb 26 at 14:15
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    @rebusB After two weeks I doubt it will qualify as "easily", and even "modifiable" will be a stretch (perhaps depending on the environmental variables and, naturally, the thickness and ratio of oil). It can be stripped, to some degree, by dissolution or more aggressive measures, but I believe modifying it is highly unlikely at that stage.
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:56
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    Easily may have been an exaggeration but the paint will still dissolve at that point. It would take soaking and rubbing and will not be 'clean' but that worked with what I was doing. I would say that counts as modifying the painting but maybe not what the OP was looking to do.
    – rebusB
    Commented Feb 28 at 16:34

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