Should I paint with oils or acrylic?


Which medium should I choose? What is easiest to use? Which will give me the most gorgeous painting?

These questions are hard to answer as the answers come from a very personal place for each of us. I’ll attempt to give you my opinion but be reminded that they are just that, opinions.

Oil Painting

I learned on the wet on wet technique (Bob Ross or Bill Alexander) of oil painting. I took lessons for 10 years from a student of Bob Ross. So happy clouds and giving each tree a friend was my starting point. I still enjoy that style of painting but have also broadened my approach a bit. A beginner oil painting in this technique can be done in as little as a single 3 hour class but the more detailed the painting the more time it will take.

Advantages of Oils:

Blending colors is easy and beautiful

Oils take a long time to dry so you can blend and change your painting over and over

Mistakes can be "erased" by removing the paint

Oils stay “fresh” for a very long time if stored properly.

Disadvantages of Oils:

Oils are typically cleaned with an odorless thinner

Oil paints, themselves, can have a smell and may be toxic to some extent (gloves are a good idea for those who wish to use them)

Oils take up to two weeks to dry so transporting a painting needs to be done with care

Oils are more expensive to buy than acrylics.

Even with it's disadvantages, oils are still a favorite. I can get soft pastels (which I Love) much easier with oils and blending skies is much easier for me (which I LOVE).

Acrylic Painting

After painting for many years with oils I decided to take an acrylic painting class. I quickly recognized that I could adapt some of my oil painting techniques but not others. I came away with several paintings that I loved but it was a struggle to make the change. After playing with acrylics for quite some time, I decided I really wanted to teach some classes. My first choice would have been oils but no one wanted to allow me a place to teach in this medium. So I started teaching acrylic classes in a local craft store. It was a great learning experience for me.

Advantages of Acrylics:

Can be cleaned with water

No odor

Dries very quickly

Mistakes can easily be painted over

Less expensive than oils

Disadvantages of Acrylics:

Dries very quickly making it hard to blend colors

Care must be taken to keep paint from hardening in brushes

Paint dries quickly on on the pallet

I am finding that I use acrylics more for paintings that need to paint in multiple layers or when I want bold colors.

Acrylics are definitely easier to clean up and are less "messy". Neither oils or acrylics come out of clothes easily after they have set so be prepared with a paint shirt or apron.

I started teaching at Inside Out: Accessible Art in 2015. Inside Out is an artist co-op to which I belong that houses a gallery, four studios and a classroom. I feel so blessed to have a place to show my art, teach and to have a studio space.

A beginner acrylic painting can be done in a single 2 hour class. Cost: $25 per person. All supplies included. A beginning oil painting class can be done in as little as 3 hours. Cost: $30 per person. Intermediate painting classes may cost a bit more as more details take more time.

For more details check out my website at www.gloriousexpressions.org or see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GloriousExpressions/

For other classes and events check out the events pages at https://www.facebook.com/InsideOutAccessibleArt/

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