View Full Version : Question on Acrylics verses Oil

Bam - Steve O Rama
08-30-2004, 11:42 AM
Hey guys,...I'm planning on purchasing some supplies for canvas painting this week. I though of going with oils but I'm just curious if I should go with Acrylics instead. This might some dumb, but there must be some advandtages and disadvantages to both. Can you help me with some info on these mediums?

Thanks,...Steve :D

08-30-2004, 11:57 AM
If you Search the acrylic forum using keywords "acrylics oils" you'll find some useful information and interesting pro/con discussions on this issue. Here's an example: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29251&highlight=oils+acrylics

I use and enjoy both.


08-30-2004, 12:03 PM

When I first started painting, I got some cheap oils and brushes. I gave the Bob Ross method a try and couldn't get the hang of it. I got very frustrated with oils because my brushes would always get ruined because I didn't clean them right. I also couldn't stand the drying time of oils. One oil painting, with pretty thin paint, can take up to 6 months to fully dry. If you went thicker, it could take anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Although you can achieve some beautiful effects with oils, I prefer acrylics. For one thing, they dry much, much quicker (maybe too quick!). A single coat of paint on your canvas with acrylics will probably dry in about one or two minutes, three max. For this reason, there is a different approach to working with acrylics than with oils. This approach is called wet on dry. Because oils dry very slowly, you can work wet on wet and get very smooth edges. But since acrylics dry very fast, you have to work wet on dry. This basically means that you use wet paint over dry paint. If you know the right techniques, though, you can get your acrylic paintings to look just like oil paintings (see Larry Seiler's article on painting acrylics like oils: http://www.wetcanvas.com/ArtSchool/Acrylics/Waterfall/
You might want to look at some of the work of Jerry Yarnell (www.yarnellart.com). He paints in acrylics but his work seems to be done in oils.
Another advantage of acrylics is cleaning your brushes is much easier and they will probably last longer. Most, if not all, acrylic paints wash out of your brush with soap and water. There is no need to use paint thinner or anything like that. The difference in color between acrylics and oils it that acrylics dry through evaporation and they become more transparent. In order to get the intense colors of oil paints, you need to paint many layers, but it can easily be done when you know how. If you have anymore questions, feel free to post them. Hope this helps,


Bam - Steve O Rama
08-30-2004, 12:15 PM
Thanks guys,...this is the info I'm looking for. I guess I need to do some more research before buying my supplies. I picked up the airbrush 2 yrs ago and want to expand my painting.

Thanks again,...Steve ;)

08-30-2004, 03:40 PM
As someone whose worked seriously with both... I'd recommend you buy a limited palette of each (say white, ultramarine, burnt sienna and ochre) from a decent student range and try both. You can use hogshair brushes with both.

They are, in my experience, very different animals. Yes, each has it's own advantages & disadvantages and I do hate when they are compared. They feel different, work different, and look different (in most cases, but not all). I tried acrylics later and it took me well over 6 months to figure out how to use them properly. (I'm a thin glazing type painter.) Both can be fantastic so it's worth trying and seeing what you think. :) No one says you can't work in both. ;) (My main work is acrylic but I trained originally in oils and still love do oil monoprints and oil studies to prepare for the acrylic pieces.)


Bam - Steve O Rama
08-30-2004, 09:07 PM
Tina,...thanks for the help. I went today and looked around some. I believe I will start with the acrylics for now and try oils a little later as I still use my airbrushes too.

Thanks,...Steve ;) :wave:

08-30-2004, 10:54 PM

I think you will be much happier starting with acrylics. I would suggest getting the Liquitex Basics Value Series or the Grumbacher Academy acrylics. I use both and have been very pleased with them. They work very well with each other when used together. Grumbacher Academy acrylics are near-professional quality and the price is amazing. Liquitex Basics Value Series are more of a student grade paint, but they are perfect for thick painting. The price on Liquitex is also great. These are perfect paints to get started with and they will last you a very long time. As far as brushes go, you can get a cheap set of acrylic brushes to get started. Welcome to the wonderful world of acrylics!


Bam - Steve O Rama
08-30-2004, 10:58 PM
Dave,...thanks man,...do you have a good supplier online or do you purchase your supplies local? I have been ordering from dixie art supply but usually only airbrush supplies in the past. Can you give me a list of supplies including brushes that will get me started and I will ever be so grateful?

Thanks,...Steven :clap: ;) :D

08-30-2004, 11:17 PM
I get most, if not all, of my supplies from Michaels Arts And Crafts. It's not really a "fine art" focused store, so the sales people don't know much, but the prices are great. Here is a list of supplies that I use:

Grumbacher Academy Acrylics
Alizarin Crimson*
Burnt Sienna*
Burnt Umber
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Red Light
Cadmium Yellow Light
Cadmium Yellow Medium*
Grumbacher Red*
Hookers Green Hue*
Raw Sienna
Raw Umber*
Thalo Blue
Thalo Green
Titanium White*
Ultramarine Blue*
Yellow Ochre Light Hue

Liquitex Basics Value Series
Cadmium Red Medium Hue
Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
Pthalocyanine Green
Mars Black*
Ultramarine Blue
Titanium White*

(I use so many different kinds of brushes but here is what I recommend:)
A Lowe-Cornell Varity Brush Set (It's not a specific set, but I've seen sets with a varity of shaped brushes)

Colors with a * next to them indicate the basic colors that you need to get started. I mainly use only the white and black of the Liquitex paints. One more thing....a palette. You can use a paper plate or get an acrylic palette.
Glad to help,


Bam - Steve O Rama
08-30-2004, 11:37 PM
Thanks Dave,...I will keep you guys posted later on as I get going.

Thanks again,...Steven ;)

08-31-2004, 07:47 AM
I use only acrylics, because of the drying time, the smell, the lack of trouble in cleaning and the price. You can mist acrylic paint to keep it wet enough to blend longer. Extender for acrylic paint is also available. But, with acrylics, because of the quick drying time, you need to know exactly what you want to do before you start painting. Plan ahead, then you're not experimenting with or mixing the paint on the canvas. I use photoshop for this, but you can do a lot of sketching instead.

I don't think oil painters are considered higher level painters at all. Robert Bateman uses acrylics, as do Carl Brenders, Guy Coholeach, Terry Isaac, a lot of other modern "masters". Its just the newer, more modern paint method.

08-31-2004, 10:01 AM
HI Steve... nice to see you here from "West Coast" airbrush. I enjoy the airbrush, but like you wanted to get into some brushwork. My initial oil stuff was fine and a learing experience, but after the airbrush, the long drying times and delays between layers etc, was just not fast paced enough for me. a year or so ago I changed to a limited pallete of acrylics and some cheapo synthetic brushes and decided it suited me better. I quickly moved on to artists quality paints and way too many brushes. You'll find it a bit easier and less frustrating using better paints simply due to the better color pigments, but some "basics" student acrylics will give you good results and many folks produce some fantastic stuff with student quality paints. Many of the techniques such as glazing etc are simular between oils and acrylics so you'll learn no matter which you choose. Additionally, many water color techniques apply to acrylics so you have lots to expierment with! Lots of acrylic artists use an airbrush to complement their work to achieve a specific effect like mist or an animals breath on a cold day. One way or another have fun, and welcome to WC!

Bam - Steve O Rama
08-31-2004, 11:20 AM
Marc,...Thanks for the help,...makes a lot of sense.

Sheryl,...sounds like planning ahead is the most important thing as laying out the painting first, to have guides to direct the brush. Misting makes ense also. It's going to be acrylics first.

Thanks,...Steve :wave: ;)

08-31-2004, 03:26 PM
Keep in mind of course that you have asked this in the acrylics forum. ;) I'd recommend asking in oils too. In my experience more oil painters have also used acrylics than vice versa.