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Wondering what the difference between acrylic and oil paint is? How do they compare in regards to required supplies, painting process and overall finish? Which one of these two painting mediums is best for you, your artistic goals and your current life situation?
In today's blog post (and the YouTube video included), I'll be explaining the key similarities and differences between acrylic and oil paint. I'll also be clearing up common misconceptions so that you can make an informed decision about which supplies to invest in and, most importantly, start moving forward in your artistic journey right away!
When I was first starting to look into painting, I was very confused about the similarities and differences between these two mediums. Not only did the examples of artwork I found created with each vary immensely, but there were also tons of contradictions between one article/book to the next in terms of the required supplies, the preparation phase, and the painting process itself.
It was honestly overwhelming and I didn't have time to make sense of it all. Quite often, I held myself back from buying any supplies and moving forward due to this.
Eventually, there came a point at which I could no longer ignore my desire to improve artistically, highly-demanding full-time job and all. I had already wasted too much time and knew that the best way to learn and to make sense of it all would be through actually doing. I visited my local art supply store, and with the information I had learned from my research (as well as with the help graciously provided by the lady at the store), bought a few items to explore.
I share more about how I finally prepared to leave years and years of "normal" full-time positions to pursue creative entrepreneurship in this blog post/YouTube video.
Suffice to say, a lot of supplies were wasted or left completely unused. And not only were a lot of bad paintings created, but several of them literally fell apart after a couple of months (don't ask).
I don't regret it though, because I learned so much through this first-hand exploration, both about different painting mediums, as well as about myself as an artist. What I like, don't like, what techniques suit the style I'm going for best, etc.
After years of practice and exploration I've been able to learn a lot about acrylics, oils and even watercolors. I love them all, use them all on a month-to-month basis, and have come to know the pros and cons of each throughout this time.
If you're just as confused and overwhelmed as I was all those years ago, but still feel that nagging inside telling you to get painting (it never goes away by the way), the following information will definitely help you make faster progress. However, as with all artistic mediums and supplies, it's going to be up to you to commit to this journey and the exploration it entails, in order to get to know yourself artistically and the specific supplies you personally enjoy.
Let's get into today's topic!
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Because oil paint contains more pigment than acrylic paint, colors in oil paintings usually look a lot richer, more vibrant and glossy. This said, even though oil paintings can last a very long time if they have been created using quality supplies and proper methods, they do tend to fade and/or yellow over time. It'll be years and years before this happens though!
Acrylic paintings, on the other hand, usually look a lot more matte and flat when compared to oil paintings. Colors also tend to darken during the drying phase. However, once this drying process is completed and this color change happens, they don't change after that as long as they are kept in an optimum environment (away from direct sunlight and humidity).
As far as texture goes, we can find both acrylic and oil paintings that are very smooth, as well as highly-texturedized. Oil paint lends itself to very easily be placed thickly on the canvas, leading to beautiful, palpable textures, if that's what the artist is intending to create. However, texture mediums can be added to acrylic paint and impasto-like effects can also be created by placing it heavily on the substrate using different tools like painting knives. The artist can also create a texturedized surface prior to starting to paint.
The overall finish of both acrylic and oil paintings can also be altered by using different types of varnishes, depending on whether you'd like your painting to appear more matte or glossy. There are a lot of different varnishes available in both spray and liquid form that offer a variety of finishes.
This is going to depend on your personal circumstances, as well as your tastes and what you're looking to improve upon.
If you usually don't have much time for your art, don't have a designated space to work in, or you have kids or pets running around, acrylics are probably the best option for you (at least for now).
On the other hand, if you do have a space you can work in for hours-on-end, you aren't too sensitive to strong smells, you're interested in learning classical techniques, and/or you really care about the depth/color/richness of your paintings, then I'd definitely explore oils!
Whatever medium you choose to go for, make sure you exercise safety measures.
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