View Full Version : Are Schools moving away from Oils to Acrylics?

10-01-2005, 05:47 PM
I am taking a class at the Daughtery Arts School. Kind of a continuing education place that has a drama theater, Gallery, lots of Kid art programs and some Art classes for adults.

I am taking an intro to painting class there. The instructor is using Acrylics. He pefers Oils but says they could not use Oils due to the fumes. I have heard something similar before. Is this a common occurance?

10-02-2005, 02:35 PM
From what I gather, a lot of art schools start out using acrylics. Student acrylics are cheaper; therefore, if a student does not want to get into art, then they don't waste much. Also, it dries quickly. This allows students to form realizations of their artwork and deal with frustrations. Fumes from oils are irritating for small children. That might be the issue with that. The chemicals from oil painting aren't very healthy at times. Turpentine can't be used in a lot of schools because some people are allergic to it.

- Jon

10-02-2005, 02:52 PM
My experience the painting students did start out in acrylic, (i'm pretty sure that was what they used first year) and then moved into oils if they continued on with the painting program. However we were fortunate enouh to have very large, ventelated studios for painting in and there were lots of procautions taken to advoid misshaps. So I can see many reasons why not having the proper space could result in having to learn acrylics instead of oils. :(

10-03-2005, 02:13 AM
Well, in our color theory class we started out with opaque watercolors, but then moved into oils. Right now I'm taking basic painting and we only use oils. I'm not sure if there are other classes that teach acrylic, but I know everyone starts with oils here. As far as fumes go, we are only allowed to use odorless mineral spirits and stuff like that. Nothing with heavy fumes. We don't have the best ventilation system, but I guess we do have one.

10-04-2005, 02:05 PM
If the school does not have proper ventilation and storage in place, OSHA (http://www.osha.gov/) can crack down and not allow oil painting there. So it depends on the school and how much money they have availiable.

At my school, most teachers teach in Oil and some actively look down on Acrylic, though I think that's changing.

The new development of water soluble oils allows those in schools that can't allow solvents to paint in oil. Yippee!

10-12-2005, 03:58 AM
We started out with oils, but were allowed to use acrylics from 2nd year. Some of our teachers also look down on acrylics but I think also that is changing here.

Keith Russell
10-13-2005, 02:09 PM
About 1/3 of my painting class is working in oils; 1/3 in acrylics or watercolour; and 1/3 aren't painting at all.


Craig D
10-13-2005, 03:05 PM
"and 1/3 aren't painting at all."

too funny Keith (or sad in a way)

10-14-2005, 02:16 AM
About 1/3 of my painting class is working in oils; 1/3 in acrylics or watercolour; and 1/3 aren't painting at all.


Heh, True about my class as well, except I'm the only one using acrylics. And that 1/3 is among those who even bother to show up.

Keith Russell
10-18-2005, 01:25 PM
"and 1/3 aren't painting at all."

too funny Keith (or sad in a way)

Well, there's more to it.

At KCAI, painting students get their own studio spaces, and they're pretty nice--when compared to what students in most other departments get.

So, a few students each semester register as painting majors, then spend their time doing digital work, fiber work, sculpture, photography, printmaking, etc.--

--while enjoying a decent studio in the painting department.

It's actually really good, in a way, too. Painters get to see more of a variety of work than just painting, and the department keeps its attendance up, which keeps the funding for the department pretty high.

So, it's actually a pretty good thing, overall...


Keith Russell
10-18-2005, 01:27 PM
Heh, True about my class as well, except I'm the only one using acrylics. And that 1/3 is among those who even bother to show up.

At KCAI, attendance (in my painting class, at least) is watched pretty closely. You don't have to stay in class on 'studio work' days, but you'd better at least make an appearance at 8 AM, and right after lunch break!


10-19-2005, 05:52 AM
My golly that is interesting...you go ALL DAY! What kind of institution is it?
When I went to TAFE (Technical & Further Education),to do Adv. Diploma of Fine Art we also went all day, but not till 9 am. Now I am at uni we go for 3 hours only. We also have 'studio space' but it is actually only about 3 square feel containing an easel, a small table & a chair & hard up against the next person on either side. What I am saying is that it is just a little space in a big room that is marked as 'your studio'.

How do the people who are 'majoring in painting' but doing other stuff, PASS?

Keith Russell
10-23-2005, 12:19 PM
The degree program at KCAI is full-time; students take (at minimum) twelve hours a semester (so, you're in class at least twenty-four hours or more every week).

So, getting to class at 8 AM, and being in classes until six in the evening, or later, is not unusual...


10-23-2005, 05:35 PM
Aye I had the same experience. From 8:30 in the morning untill 9:00 at night even. Plenty of all nighters finishing work (School studio space could be accessed by students 24 hours a day)

It was very intense.

Our school was very strict on attendance as well. If you missed more than 3 classes per studio class, you automatically failed the course.

10-28-2005, 02:17 PM
Our painting studios starts out in oil. Some of the higher level student use a lot of wacky mixed media, but our basic stuff is all in oil.
The building we are in was completely refurbished a few years back and it is very state of the art in terms of ventilation. The air exchange is the print studio completely exchanges every 6 minutes, and in the spray room it is every 2 minutes, we have those big snakey vent tubes that descend from the ceiling, that can be moved around to get right at an especially smelly area lol.

The work ethic and attendance thing is indeed interesting, as an older returning art student (who is also paying for everything on my own) I am the overprepared student who works on projects every day and shows up with the color coded notes...some folks have barely started paintings the day before critique.
We also have a much stricter absentee plicy this year, ten minutes late or you leave 10 minutes early 2 times and that is considered an absence. Two absences and you drop a full letter grade, more than that and I think you could get the boot.

11-02-2005, 09:30 AM
I studied painting at Ohio State in the early seventies and they would only allow acrylics in the basic painting classes. At the time I understood this as a progressive approach to the subject but in retrospect it appears more like a higher level of the cheap and easy to use tempera colors of elementary school. A viligent OSHA was not quite yet so active then either so that wasn't an explanation for the policy. It was convenience.

I noticed though that the professors painted with oil color.

IMO oil painted with an oil/alkyd resin is superior to either acrylic or traditional oil but the fumes are even more noticable and likely to annoy the hordes of emerging asthmatics and hyper-allergic types (extremely rare in the past but common now), so it is unlikely that the developing student will be instructed in this technique unless they study privately under a practicing artist.

I don't think the University art department generally trains so much as provoking thinking and problem solving. The future in these schools will no doubt like with CAD and Photoshop anyway. Us picture makers are being relegated by change to mere decorators.

Interesting and creative painting will always go on but in the tech age either at the margins of society, in service of the Bourgeoisie, or as an anachronism.

11-04-2005, 10:06 PM
Are Schools moving away from Oils to Acrylics?

i am jealouse of all those that use these materials
it makes life easier
so so much grams of oil on so so much meters of canves
very safe very easy

12-15-2005, 10:53 PM
I work in both oils and acrylics, but predominantly in oils. I've been using water soluable oils for about 6 years and love them. Wouldn't go back. No fumes and cleanup with water and soap. People have no idea that I'm not using the old fashioned kind of oils. I'm hoping more schools start using the water soluable oils if the reason is for the smell and fumes of solvents.

Keith Russell
12-23-2005, 01:51 PM
I don't think the University art department generally trains so much as provoking thinking and problem solving. The future in these schools will no doubt like with CAD and Photoshop anyway. Us picture makers are being relegated by change to mere decorators.

Just as CAD and Photoshop 'artists' are being relegated to being mere entertainers and advertisers?

Your attitude, it seems, is just another variant of the popular, but overstated, 'art is dead' belief.


01-03-2006, 11:21 PM
Where I went, Painting 1 is always oils, unless you get one teacher. He doesnt mind if you use acrylics, which is his medium of choice. As you get into Painting 3 and higher, you are more free to use acrylics if you please. Painting 2 really depends on your teacher, its about 50/50 there. I do know that the EPA and such were on my school big time. They would do random checks to make sure that the chemicals were stored right and such. It got to be that we were no longer allowed to bring our own cleaners. They had to be provided by the school and used by all classes.

If all states are gettin to be like this, that may be why they are going to acrylics. Its just so much easier to regulate and you dont have to worry as much about people breathing, and drips on the floor and such. You can get a big time fine if they find out that brushes were washed in sinks, or chemicals went down a drain..or werent sealed right.

01-23-2006, 04:01 PM
The first year painting class I took last year at my local art college used acrylics (and only Golden acrylics, couldn't use the cheaper brands). We did have the option of using acrylics, but the biggest factor for using acrylics was the drying time. We were expected to make a painting a week :-)

02-05-2006, 05:57 PM
We use water based oils, no terpentine needed, better for the enviorment, works the same way and dries on surface within 3-4 days. We use acrylics as well, we experiment with different types of mediums. We can't use regular oils since it's unhealthy, and with water soluable colors, why would you want to? :)

02-08-2006, 12:06 PM
At the university I attend in the UK we get a large studio space each, even larger in the degree year. With metal lockable storage bins. We are constantly under pressure to be careful as the insurance comany get really hot under the collar about all these explosive chemicls laying around. What really caused a commotion was when they found a dumped out spliff behind someones partition. They threatened to treble the insurance costs unless the Uni got on top of that situation pronto. They did. I am a non smoker, spliffs or otherwise, so I wasn't me :-). Just thought I'd clear that up.
I mention this because we where only offered acrylics in further education and this may have been an element in that decision. I guess in higher education they are bound to allow us more latitude as it is very much self directed.
my $0.02...:clap:

02-20-2006, 08:30 AM
My old art school didn't have a preference - whatever you wanted to use was fine. You would get hassled if you didn't produce enough work of a high enough standard but how you got there was your own choice.
I've never liked acrylics personally because they are always touted as being nearly as good as oils or almost as good as watercolours etc. I think (unless they are in the hands of someone like David Hockney, that they will always look like a half arsed version of something else. Certainly, the only time I've used them was when i was concerned about fumes in the home and found myself jumping through hoops to get them to look like oils.
Which they never can.
Ever. :)

02-25-2006, 07:08 PM
well last time I did oil, it was a team work in a non ventilated classroom and the canvas was roughle 5 feet to 9 feet. we worked from morning to 4:30 am, before I went to sllep, I remember runnig and stopping amy head felt like it was still going on. :) This was done using traditional, heavy oils