View Full Version : Acrylics and Oils Going Face to Face

09-21-2007, 03:31 PM
There was a strong feeling, on another thread, that the rubber was beginning to meet the road in actual side-by-side views of oils and acrylics.

Most of us agree that acrylics can do many things well, and that they can do many of the things that oils can do.

Some would say that there may be a certain effects (certain very attractive effects) that can be achieved with oils, that cannot be achieved with acrylics.

Others say that acrylics may, if used properly, actually be able to come close to matching these effects -- or that they may even be able to surpass oils.

It would be quite interesting to test this out with actual examples, and our own tests.

Instead of duplicating an entire painting (which is a daunting task in many cases), why not concentrate, or focus in on, one passage in a painting, or one specific area where the especially attractive oil effect is at its height, and then see how close acrylics can come? -- or if they can take it even further?

The especially attractive effect might be seen in part of a reflection (on an eye, or a vase, for example). This would be a very manageable portion of the painting to focus on and work with, and to go face-to-face with.

And it seems like a good way to explore and learn more about acrylics' possibilities.

Someone could post the oil painting effect, and it would be a creative challenge to find out (1) how close to this effect acrylics can come, (2) whether they can take it even further, and (3) whether they can come up with something different but equally effective, or perhaps even more effective.

(I would post a few samples to start off with, but I haven't any at hand, and my digital camera/computer skills are still in their developing stages.)

It does seem as though the clear pouring medium from Liquitex could be used for beautiful glazes and luminous-transparent effects.

High-solids gloss gels seem good for this also.

I hope this thread develops; it could turn into something interesting and useful.

a. ladd
09-21-2007, 04:58 PM
Pouring Medium is relatively runny and really levels out- so brushing to nuance it (esp. on a vertical surface) is probably out. Gels are nicer.

Here is a page w/ a Leffel flesh close up you can see.


Lots of opaque vs. translucent layering and blends in there - not to mention the more direct, sculptural, Rembrandtesque modeling going on. Actually, not nearly as representative as some other oil pix I have to find.

As for acrylic precision, my hat is off to Sherry Loehr,


no skin renderings though, and obviously a very different and thinner watercolor / glazing technique.

09-21-2007, 06:41 PM
This sounds good, although I'am not a portrait painter

09-22-2007, 10:00 AM
Yup, sounds interesting. Not the kind of paintings I do though. I'd be happy to post similar work of mine in either but not what you're looking for. ;) You'd have to find an artist with a high level of expertise in both mediums.

Were the cat eyes in the other thread not an excellent example?

Café LoLa
09-22-2007, 10:56 AM
You might want to ask Larry Seiler to show some examples of his oils and his acrylics.

09-22-2007, 11:24 AM
I have examples of my works in both oils and acrylics (and other mediums) on my web site for anyone with an interest.

09-22-2007, 12:44 PM
Here are some side by side paintings -- keep in mind I'm an armature but I'll put myself out there...

first one acrylic on paper study

second one oil on canvas

third - acrylic on canvas

fourth - oil on canvas

last - unfinished acrylic on canvas (large) where I am achieving some sky and cloud effects that I didn't think possible with acrylic.

09-23-2007, 06:42 PM
I actually did a couple of comparison paintings several months ago.
These are each on 9X12" Masonite.
One is oils, one is acrylics.

09-23-2007, 10:22 PM
I actually did a couple of comparison paintings several months ago.
These are each on 9X12" Masonite.
One is oils, one is acrylics.

Steve, do you mean the left is oils and the right is acrylics?

09-23-2007, 11:17 PM
I would guess that the oils are on the right and the acrylic is on the left.

09-24-2007, 12:30 AM
Acrylics on the left, oils on the right.

a. ladd
09-24-2007, 10:45 AM
JimmyM - I must confess that my eye was drawn more to the oil! Maybe the coolness of the green combinations.

Larry - looks like a pretty close draw.

FWIW: I was puttering around w/ certain acrylic/ground combinations and may have come upon an interesting combination for more control over blending and precision. I'll post about it later.

a. ladd
09-26-2007, 12:01 PM
My snippet on the earlier O vs A thread that compares a direct technique in both paints:

I'm going to definately see the Hopper show in DC (maybe several times!).

Now, to me, he was all about content and was a very direct, no-frills kind of painter. I always thought he probably could have done the same with acrylics. And in fact, someone pretty much has already (I LOVE this guy! ):

09-30-2007, 08:36 PM
I decided to try copying the David Leffel eye in the Maroger medium ad. I don’t do portraits, but I was fascinated by the textural effects and the glazing of the David Leffel portrait. While I am happy with the outcome . . it doesn’t have that gloss that David Leffel got. It is glossy, but how do you photograph that once you get done!

To do this, I used 5 different mediums---and a lot of them. As someone said, that could definitely get expensive. I also used a matt gel for most of this and I don’t really like the effect. The gloss gel looked too, too glossy, but I may try it now.

I think it is possible with acrylics to get more transparency above the eye than I did, but it would take a lot more glazing. At this point, the trick would be to get transparency without making it darker, which is why I stopped. I also think it is possible to get thicker, more textural paint, but I was almost done when I decided to try the palette knife. (This style and technique is far from all the smooth blending that I usually do. This was a real adventure—and a lot of experimenting.)