Oil Painting Vs Acrylic Painting: Which One To Go For And Why?

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Are you a team ‘’Oil’’ or a team ‘’Acrylic’’? Well, it all depends on various factors, which will help you pick one amid these two paint mediums.

Now, if you ask me which is better in the battle of oil painting vs. acrylic painting, I’d say it’s a matter of personal preference. 

If you’re an art enthusiast, an artist, or even a realtor, you should know the difference between oil painting and acrylic painting.

There are various painting styles and mediums, but what distinguishes your medium from others? 

Well, well! Take a look at the details about the medium you might prefer! 

But, before we get into which is better between oil and acrylic painting, let’s first look at what they are!

What Is Oil Painting?

painting by Rembrandt: Isaac and Rebecca used as an example of oil painting.
Image Source: britancia

Whether you consider oil painting for beginners or for professionals, the first thing that comes to your mind is “beautiful but difficult.” 

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Oil paints are indeed created using oil paints, and the most important binding agent in oil paintings is oil.

Oil painting medium, being thick in consistency, needs to be thinned out with a thinner before being used to paint. 

When it comes to cleaning an oil painting, certain steps have to be taken. 

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Family painting from different photos

To your surprise, many of the world’s famous paintings are made with oil paint.  

Some of the paintings are by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. 

Also, get yourself some of the best oil painting sets to start your painting journey hassle free. 

Suggested Article: Oil Painting Tips

What Is Acrylic Painting?

Oil painting vs acrylic painting: what is acrylic painting
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Wondering what an acrylic medium is or how an acrylic painting is created? 

Acrylic paints were created as a replica of oil paints, and are used to create beautiful acrylic paintings.

If you are someone who has been creating artwork using acrylic paints or are planning on learning how to paint using acrylic paints, then you must be aware of the fact that they dry quickly.

Suggested Article: Beginner Friendly Tips to Paint Using Acrylic color 

For acrylics, the pigments are mixed with binders like acrylic polymer. 

Most of the time, the binders can be plasticizers, silicone oils, or metal soaps.

Human acrylic portraits are the most popular among people.

Now you may wonder, is acrylic paint oil based?

Acrylics are used to create effects that are similar to those of oil paints and watercolors. 

They are solely water-based paints and are adaptable to various paint bases. 

On the other hand, there is no comparison to be found between watercolor vs oil paint based mediums.

The most popular could be compilation of acrylic portraits that will never miss your close ones out.

Oil Painting Vs Acrylic: Key Differences

Key differences between oil paints and acrylic paints
Image Source: Freepik

Now that we’ve learned what oil painting is and what acrylic painting is, it’s time to distinguish between the paint mediums for acrylic and oil paintings. 

Take a closer look at the battle of oil painting vs acrylic painting. 

1. Cost In Making

cost in making between oil and acrylic paints
Image Source: Envato elements

Acrylic painting vs oil painting both have an exclusive artistic touch to them.

But when it comes to the cost that goes into getting the artwork created from scratch, it differs a lot.

Oil paints are expensive, and to create an artwork using oil paints also requires additional supplies.

Acrylic paints, on the other hand, are widely available, inexpensive, and do not require any additional supplies.

Hence, if you’re looking for an option that is light on your pocket as well as one that creates graphically pleasing artwork, maybe you should consider acrylic paints over oil paints. 

2. Painting Life

painting life difference between acrylic and oil paint.
Image Source: Envato elements

Any artwork can be preserved for years if kept safely and with proper care.

Acrylic paints are made from acrylic polymers, (which belong to the plastic family), hence, they are believed to provide extra life to your painting.

On the other hand, oil paintings have been preserved for years as well. 

Oil paintings tend to turn yellow, but they stay intact. 

P.S. Both the mediums can be preserved well, which can increase their longevity. They can last for a lifetime as well.

(You can also read: Comparison between PortraitFlip and PaintYourLife)

3. Reaction On Painting Surfaces

Oil painting vs acrylic reaction on painting surfaces
Image Source: Envato Elements

Both oil and acrylic paints act differently on various surfaces.

Oil paints, being heavily pigmented due to the presence of different vegetable oils like linseed oil, poppy oil, or cottonseed oil, get absorbed in the canvas.

Oil paints can’t be used on lighter surfaces like plain paper, fabric, etc. 

Whereas, talking about the acrylic paints, they are water-based and contain elements of plastic, which is why they are suitable for any surface. 

Fun fact: If mixed with water, acrylic paints can be used as watercolors as well.

Suggested Read: Best Watercolor Tips for Beginners

4. Texture

oil painting vs acrylic texture
Image Source: Envato Elements

There is a huge difference between texture in oil painting and acrylic painting. 

If you are someone who loves uniformity and symmetrical buttery flow, then oil paints will give you that finish and neatness in your painting.

Whereas if you are looking to give a rough edge to your painting, then acrylic paints will get the job done without fuss!

5. Color Reaction Over Time (Lightfastness)

Oil painting vs acrylic color reaction over time
Image Source: PortraitFlip

Lightfastness refers to the time it takes for a painting to switch its tone to a lighter shade, or, in simpler words, how soon will your paint fade? 

Oil paints tend to turn yellowish over time due to the absorption of oils present in them.

Whereas, acrylic paints, being made of polymers, stay intact and fresh for a long time. 

6. Cleaning The Mess

oil painting vs acrylic cleaning the mess
Image Source: Envato elements

Once your beautiful painting is completed, you take a look around, and now the realization strikes you! 

Oh God! What a mess! You’ve got to clean it before someone starts complaining about it or the paint leaves stains on your white, polished marble floor.

If you have used acrylic paints, then you don’t even need to worry about the stains and brushes.

Just wipe your floor with a wet mop and wash the brushes as usual. And the whoosh! Watch the paint go away!

But if you’ve used oil paints, then, my, oh my! Good luck with the hard work because the paint won’t easily come off.

To get off oil paint, you need to wash it off with special spirits or thinners, and if the oil paint stain is long-drying, you probably have to scrape it off with a knife.

P.S: Stay cautious while using knives and thinners!

7. Versatility

Oil painting vs acrylic versatility
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If we talk about which medium is more versatile, then it definitely has to be acrylic paints.

They are versatile as they can be used on any surface, whether it be glass, cardboard, or canvas. 

If mixed with water, acrylic paints can be used as watercolors as well, and if pushed further,  they can perform as oil paints as well.

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It’s not the case in terms of oil paints, because they are highly pigmented, but the artwork they create is highly vibrant. 

8. Drying Time

Oil painting vs acrylic drying time
Image Source: Envato elements

Oil paints take a lot of time to dry as they are oil-based, and the binding agents take time to set on the surface.

After applying an oil paint layer to your canvas, you must wait a few days before continuing to work on it.

Whereas acrylic paints, being water-based, dry quickly. 

You don’t have to wait as long to paint with acrylics because they dry quickly and you can easily blend and use them without worry.

(Also Read: Watercolor vs. Acrylic)

9. Supplies Needed To Make The Paint Work

Oil painting vs acrylic suppliers need to make the paint the work
Image Source: Envato Elements

While working with acrylic paints, you don’t need to worry about additional supplies.

Paint brushes, canvas or paper, acrylic paints, and a mixing palette—that’s all you need while creating an acrylic painting.

But this is not the case when it comes to creating an oil painting.

You need additional supplies like thinner, a palette knife, and primer as well. The supplies are a bit on the expensive side.

P.S: Make sure you always purchase high quality supplies to get the best result.

Find Out Which Medium Suits You

Oil painting vs acrylic oil painting vs acrylic painting
Image Source: Envato elements

As we’ve now discussed the pointers that fall under the category of oil painting vs. acrylic painting, it’s now your call!

But make sure to consider the below mentioned points, which will help you understand the solid difference between oil and acrylic paint.

The more research you conduct, the better the option you will select. 

Here are a few factors you should consider before picking the winner in the battle of Oil vs Acrylic!

1. Dramatic Texture Or Simply Aesthetic

oil painting vs acrylic dramatic texture or simply aesthetic
Image Source: Envato elements

Remember Van Gogh’s famous painting “The Starry Night“, wondering how he got there? Well, he used oil paint!

Oil paints tend to have a dramatic effect on your painting as they take time to dry and, when repainted on the dried paint, give the painting a beautiful yet dramatic texture.

So, if you are looking for something more dramatic, then painting with oil over acrylic will be the best decision for you. 

On the other hand, “Lanterns” by April M. Rimpo is a painting that uses subtle shades of colors mixed together to give it an aesthetically pleasing look. 

So, acrylic artwork is more aesthetically and graphically pleasing and is comparatively an easier medium to work with.

Suggested Read: Famous Paintings by Van Gogh

2. Mark Your Painting Process

Mark your painting process with oil painting vs acrylic
Image Source: Freepik

Oil paints actually take a lot of time to dry, and they require patience when created. 

So, stay prepared to sit for days and weeks just to complete your painting. 

Oil paintings are visually very vivid and appealing, and they also give depth to your painting. 

Acrylic paints, on the other hand, dry quickly and are much easier to work with if completed in one sitting.

Acrylic paints require a lot of attention because they start drying out as soon as you take them out on your paint palette. 

That is why it is advised to use the paint in smaller portions and also to use a wet palette, which helps the paint stay moist for a longer time. 

3. Slow & Steady Or Fast-Goer?

Oil painting vs acrylic painting slow and steady or fast goer.
Image Source: crosscut.com

If you are someone who loves to take their time while they paint, then ahem! I’ll suggest you go with oil paints.

Or, if you are someone who sits at a place till they’re done with their artwork, then I’ll suggest you go with acrylic paints.

Acrylic paints are much easier to work with than oil paints.

4. Affordability

Affordability of oil and acrylic paints.
Image Source: icanvas.com

When it comes to affordability, you may be wondering what the difference is between the pricing of both mediums. 

If you go with oil paints, then you are probably going to spend more.

It is because, with oil paints, you have to make sure that you purchase the right additional supplies.

Whereas, in terms of acrylic paints, you have to spend less than oil paints, so you have to figure out how much you can spend on your art supplies.

Make sure that the supplies don’t weigh down your pockets too much!

5. Stay Cautious

Oil painting vs acrylic stay cautious
Image Source: Envato elements

While using oil paints, make sure you sit in a well-ventilated area or room because oil paint releases a constant smell of the thinner (turpentine or white spirit).

The odor may cause irritation in the nasal tract, and the thinner can also cause reactions on the skin. 

On the other hand, acrylic paints are odorless and cause less irritation due to their texture as well. But studies have shown that traces of ammonia are found in acrylic paints. 

Pro tip: No matter what your painting medium is, always sit in a well ventilated area.

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6. Team Messy Or Team De-Clutter?

Oil paintings vs acrylic team messy or team de-clutter
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If you are using oil paints to create a painting, or, on the other hand, if you are using acrylic paints, then you should be well-prepared for the cleaning process.

If you are using oil paint, then you may need additional supplies like primer and thinner to get rid of the paint.

Cleaning the brushes that were used to make an oil painting gets very hard as well, they need to be cleaned using thinner. 

But in the case of acrylic paint, you don’t need to worry about any sort of mess, as it easily comes off as soon as it is cleaned with water and soap. 

Final Verdict: Oil Painting Vs Acrylic Painting?

Oil painting vs Acrylic painting
Image Source: PortraitFlip

Whether you choose oil over acrylic paints or vice versa, both oil and acrylic painting are individually amazing mediums.

You should opt oil painting if

  • If you have patience and you are ready to wait for longer periods of time, because damn! That paint takes its time to dry.
  • If you want to make heads turn by looking at your work of art then definitely go with Oil paints. 
  • If you are willing to explore oil painting techniques such as chiaroscuro, impasto, glazing, etc.

You should opt acrylic painting if

  • If you are a passionate artist who loves to complete their artwork in one sitting, then you should opt for acrylic painting, because they dry at a much faster pace.

Trust me when I say that they dry out really quickly, or try this scoop out your acrylic paint on a palette, then just go to your living room or kitchen to grab a quick snack.

And, when you come back within minutes, you’ll need to scratch the dried paint off your palette to start again. 

  • If you are a pro or a beginner who’s looking for a paint medium which is versatile and a bit easy to work with. 

Viola! Acrylic paints are just the right medium for you.

  • If you are on a tight budget and you can’t afford to spend hundreds and hundreds of bucks on getting your paints, then go with acrylic paints.
  • If you want to create graphically pleasing paintings then acrylic paints are your best pick.

Now, you can easily make up your mind to pick one winner from the battle of oil painting vs acrylic painting. 

Moreover, it is a decision that varies from person to person and depends on the above-mentioned factors as well.

But, but, but! As per my suggestion you should try painting in both the mediums before jumping to any conclusion because you need to watch out for yourself and where your art flows the best!

This Was All About Oil painting Vs Acrylics!

If you’re still here, then cheers! 

If you are a budding artist or an established artist as well, it is important for you to know your medium for painting and what works best for you.

It’s not just about your money and time (I mean, it definitely is), but moreover, it’s about your comfort, and you can cherish your inner artist only when you are comfortable with your medium of painting!

Also Read: Traditional Art vs. Digital Art

Author’s Note

Author's Note
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Thank you for staying connected with me till the end of the blog. I hope that the information I’ve tried to provide will be helpful.

Do let me know in the comments what you guys think about it, and make sure to share the blog as well. 

We are PortraitFlip, the world’s No. 1 choice for custom portraits. We turn your photos into 100% hand-painted portraits and deliver them worldwide.

Make sure you check our Youtube and Instagram and Pinterest pages. 

Also, check out PortraitFlip’s gallery, where we have posted handmade paintings which our artist made from photos.

In the meantime, stay true to your art and keep following your passion! Bye Bye!

FAQs

Q1. Which paint medium amid oil and acrylic is best in terms for artists on budget?

If you are an artist on budget then you should definitely go with acrylic paints as they are much cheaper than oil paints.

Q2. Which paint medium is widely used by professionals?

Professional artists prefer oil paints over acrylic because it retains moisture for a longer time and also it is easy to blend, layer and to add textures. But, either ways artists use acrylic paints as well because they are more versatile.

Q3. Oil paints or Acrylic paints, which amid these two are easy to work with?

It has been proven that acrylic paints are more easy to work with as they dry quickly, they are easy to clean and can work on almost any surface.

Q4. Should you learn to paint with oil paints or acrylic paints?

As a beginner, if you don’t mind working on your painting for longer hours and going in with multiple layers, then you should opt oil paints.
And, in case you are someone who wants to work with a more versatile and a medium which is a bit on the easier side then you should go ahead with acrylic paints.

3 thoughts on “Oil Painting Vs Acrylic Painting: Which One To Go For And Why?

  1. Larry Kirkland says:

    Oil Painting now days is solvent-free. Out of the tube you add solvent-free medium and to clean the brushes you use Baby Oil that removes the paint very easily. NO THINNER at all. So that being the case then Oil should win this .. hands down…

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