What is the difference between acrylic and oil painting?

by Marshall | Oil Paintings

Paintings have been around since the early days of art, but two types are still being used today. One is acrylic paint and the other is oil paint. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so it's important to know which one you're using before making your choice. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these two painting types to help you make a more informed decision about what type of artwork you want on your walls.


What Is Acrylic Painting?

Acrylic is a type of paint that often contains pigments and water. When mixed, it generally resembles oil paints but dries faster than other types of painting. It can be used traditionally on canvases or as modern art on glass, wood, paper, and many more. There are also many acrylic mediums available to use with the paint such as gels that you can mix in for effects like texture or shine. Acrylics are made much the same way as oils except without an oil base. This means they're safer to use, and you can still achieve bright colors even if it's quicker for your art process!

What Is Oil Painting?

Oil paint is different than most other mediums because of its consistency and texture. Oil paints are very thick, oily with binding agents that give them their smooth creamy feel when applied to any surface just like the linseed or safflower-based oils that make up this type of formula for your chosen brand, these ingredients also result in an ideal application on many types projects. Oil painters rave about the fluidity and consistency of this medium. With a brush, you can mix different colors on top of each other or create depth by partially covering an area with paint before lifting some more for another layer to build upon what has already been laid down.

Differences Between Acrylic And Oil Paintings

Acrylic paintings are made with pigments mixed in water, which is often referred to as a base. Acrylic paint has less oil than oil painting and provides more vivid colors than other paints. Oil paints have the most vibrant color palette that you can use for your artwork because they include brilliant hues of yellow, orange, red, violet, and many more. Most artists prefer acrylic or oil paintings depending on what type of work they’re doing but some art students might find both types useful when it comes down to their artistic career development. Read on about how these two kinds of paint differ from each other.

Drying Time

Drying Time is the biggest difference between acrylic and oil painting. Acrylics dry in a few hours while oils can take days, which allows for more time to blend colors and build up layers before it dries completely. Oil paintings also require the thinner application of paint than acrylic because the drying process causes cracking if too much is applied at once. This makes sense since we know that you cannot put wet paint on top of another layer of wet paint. With enough experience, this does not become an issue though like with anything else.

Blending And Mixing Colors

When it comes to acrylic paints, you can mix them. If you have created a color that is too dark or light, you can always add more paint until the desired tone is achieved while oil paintings use pigments which means they do not blend well together unless there is an oil-based medium added to the mixture. The advantage of this method though would be achieving brighter colors compared to using acrylics alone. When mixing your oils for blending purposes, try adding some turpentine into the mixture if necessary and then test out on paper first before applying onto your painting surface just in case any negative reactions may occur since different brands will produce varying results regardless if they come from the same palette or manufacturer brand name even.


Lightfastness is the resistance of color to changes in hue or shade when exposed to light or different levels of UV radiation. Both acrylic and oil paintings can be made with pigments that have very good lightfastness, but some artists prefer one over another because they feel it is better suited for their needs. Oil paints are known as being more durable than acrylic paintings so many people choose them for this reason alone. However, there are some cases where acrylics may be preferable such as those who use these types of paint indoors as well as outdoors due to its quick drying time compared to oils which take much longer.

By Dru Bloomfield - https://www.flickr.com/photos/athomeinscottsdale/3836187025/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95427764

Cleaning Your Tools

Oil paint tends to dry with the tools still in it. Use mineral spirits, turpentine or citrus oil, and water for cleaning your brushes after use while acrylic paints offer no resistance when it comes to drying, so you can clean up as soon as you’re done painting without worrying about ruining their quality.

The differences between acrylic and oil paintings are subtle, but they can have a big impact on your art. If you're looking to buy either one of these types of paint for the first time, you must understand what makes them different so that you know which one is best suited for your needs. We’ve outlined some major differences between these two types. For any assistance finding out which technique better suits your needs, don't hesitate to contact us.

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