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View Full Version : What is more difficult to paint in: Oil or Acrylic?


alex101
02-12-2014, 06:39 PM
Assuming you had to make a very vibrant, very realistic, very smooth photographic painting (A 'good' painting:clap:), which medium would be most difficult, and therefore require more skill, and therefore be 'better'/'worth more':

Oil or Acrylic?

Also, while we're talking about that, what medium is better in terms of not yellowing over time or growing fungi?

Oil or Acrylic?

idylbrush
02-12-2014, 07:03 PM
Both have their pluses and minuses. It is really a matter of personal preference and how you work. One is not better than the other.They are just different.

Oils tend to yellow over time, depending on the finish. Both can attract dust and dirt and become dull over time. So, in that sense there are many similarities.

susme48
02-12-2014, 08:50 PM
Interesting terminology, and very subjective words...skill, better, worth...and the use of , vibrant, realistic, and photographic seem moderately contradictory?

It's almost like asking which takes more skill...abstract or fantasy? portraiture or landscape painting? Whose the judge of skill? what qualities equate goodness? Is a painting by George Bush (acrylic and oil--hundreds), Sylvester Stallone (acrylic and oil--hundreds of thousands), or Arnold Schwarzenegger (just acrylic--none are for sale) worth more than one by you or I? or Andy Warhol (acrylic--100 million) or Roy Lichtenstein (acrylic--56 million)? Would that be because of skill, or medium, or celebrity?

The battle, and there has been, over oils versus acrylics, has been fought and hotly debated since acrylics were 'invented' and came into use in the 1900's (water based in 1950)...to me it is rather hard to compare the two mediums, as one has been popular since the 15th century and the other for less than 75 years. If you had debated horses versus automobiles in the 1880's or even the early 1900's would your arguments be the same as they are today? I don't think so.

Coffee versus tea? milk chocolate versus dark chocolate? salad dressing versus mayonnaise? white bread or wheat? chicken or beef? fish or pork? Coke or Pepsi? Without bringing health arguments on caffeine, fats, meat, empty calories, sweetners, etc... those are battles of taste, preference, lifestyle, upbringing, heredity, genetics, and so on. In my opinion, oils versus acrylics is just more of the same...it is all subjective right now. How can anyone tell what the longevity/"archivalness" of acrylics will be? IF Michelangelo had had access to acrylics, would he have used them? would those paintings be worth less than those he did in oils? is one of his sculptures worth more or less than a painting? and why? All in the eye or mind of the buyer, IMO.

Not really sure where you are going with this question, but hope my answer helps.

wdaniels
02-12-2014, 10:18 PM
Very vibrant, realistic paintings have been done in both mediums. I guess it depends on if fast drying time is an advantage or disadvantage for you. For me personally, acrylic dries too fast to blend tones easily.

As far as your other questions: A painting that takes more skill is not necessarily "better or worth more", but from my experience oil paintings are sought out by buyers more than those done in other mediums.

Oil paintings do yellow somewhat over time, acrylics don't. As far as growing fungi, I haven't heard of that being a major problem with either.

alex101
02-12-2014, 10:24 PM
The point I was making was that surely if something is more difficult, requires more skill, it would be worth more in some sense.

If it's more difficult to make a good quality painting with acrylic, and someone does manage to do so, surely it should be considered better? Yet there's a public perception that oil is superior..

Is it just that people stick to tradition?

wdaniels
02-12-2014, 10:38 PM
For some, it may be easier to paint with oils, for others, it may be easier to paint with acrylic. I don't think either medium is inherently more difficult than the other.
Although I did say that oils tend to sell better, I think that superior quality work will be in demand, no matter what the medium.

acerimusdux
02-13-2014, 12:22 AM
In my experience, being more difficult doesn't normally make things worth more. So if I had to make a vibrant, realistic, smooth, photographic image, I would probably choose to use a camera.

Fox_eNova
02-13-2014, 12:32 AM
Assuming you had to make a very vibrant, very realistic, very smooth photographic painting - Oil or Acrylic?
A photo realistic smooth piece denotes a lot of canvas prep, either medium will work. Whatever becomes best in your opinion and it works for you, than that is BEST.
..therefore be 'better'/'worth more' IMHO The end result is the worth, not the more or less skill required to create it.

jocko500
02-13-2014, 03:06 AM
if you have a health thing then use acrylic. plus in oils you can not paint over some colors as it will crack and stuff like that. I talk to one that started to paint over 30 years ago and he say his oil looks old now but his acrylic look like he did them yesterday.

alex101
02-13-2014, 03:17 AM
I talk to one that started to paint over 30 years ago and he say his oil looks old now but his acrylic look like he did them yesterday.
Wow, and he did the acrylics 30 years ago also? That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

friesin
02-13-2014, 03:46 AM
In my experience, being more difficult doesn't normally make things worth more. So if I had to make a vibrant, realistic, smooth, photographic image, I would probably choose to use a camera.

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

Susan: wonderful explanation! I cannot but completely agree :thumbsup:

wdaniels
02-13-2014, 09:33 AM
Wow, and he did the acrylics 30 years ago also? That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing that.Well, there are oil paintings done more than 500 years ago that still look pretty good.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Feb-2014/1054932-eyck5.jpg

Davkin
02-13-2014, 10:35 AM
And has probably been cleaned and restored at least a dozen times. Also a small digital image doesn't show all the flaws.

That said, I'm not worrying about my paintings lasting 100 years, but I have an original oil painting done in the 50's that from a distance looks great but get within 2 feet of it and you see it's full of cracks and the light areas have obviously yellowed, there is even some evidence of the paint turning transparent, but that could be that the artist just painted too thinly in areas. I'm not old enough yet for that painting to have been painted during my lifetime, but not far from it and I'm sure many of those issues showed up some time ago. I've been astonished at how bad some paintings look in museums in spite of the best efforts of professional restorers to preserve them. Not that all of them are that bad, but many if not the majority are.

I don't say these things to put down oil paint, I'm just saying these are real issues with oils and I believe over time acrylics will prove to be far more stable, in fact there is already plenty of evidence to suggest that they are.

I also agree that difficulty level has little to do if anything with the value of an artwork. The market dictates that.

David