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Topic: Acrylic or oils?  (Read 2509 times)
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« on: December 20, 2007 10:28:51 AM »

I've been trying oils for awhile now and I'm so frustrated! Oils take forever to dry, and I don't have time to watch paint dry. I also don't have a lot of money for canvas and mediums (or room). Should I switch to acrylics? I also want to know what I should buy to go with the basic paint and how much it will cost. Thanks Grin
Flowers and Lemons
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2007 10:45:38 AM »

I use acrylics myself, for the same reasons. It's not that expensive and dries quicker.
(You have mediums for oil to make it dry quicker, but I prefer acrylics)
I have the idea the colours in acrylics are much brighter.. And it's much easier to use (I personally hate that you can't use water to wash your brushes during the painting).
Some people say you better use oil, because it's of a better quality or something like that..
Where I live, you can buy the starters items alltogether, the basic colours (white, yellow, red, blue, black) and some brushes. It costs like 15 to 20 euros. With that you'll need paper, that doesn't need to be expensive at all. (As long as you don't use printer-paper)
The other possibility is that you buy a cheap package with more colours in it (that's what I did), and if you like it, you can buy paint that's a little pricier. Whatever you want. I bought cheap paint for about 5 euros? Not very much.

Good luck  Smiley I hope you find the kind of paint you can express yourself te best with.

« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2007 01:42:16 PM »

Going to acrylics would probably be a good idea. I have both, and I still use oil occasionally because i really like how it feels to work with on canvas. But the drying time is SO frustrating! I bought decent a set of acrylics for like $30 and they look great! I used to think that acrylics looked cheap, but its really just a matter of finding the right paint, and to a certain extent you do get what you pay for. Something like Blick's Artist Acrylics runs about $67 for a set of 12 (though they are on sale right now online for $37).
I just go to Michaels to get canvases... they usually have sets of them you can buy for cheap. They also have tons of brushes to chose from, and of course they get nicer the more you want to pay but usually even the cheaper ones will do the trick.
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2007 10:14:16 PM »

Well, I use both acrylic and oils as well and I think there are perks to each.
As far as acrylics, you would need the same basic colors as oils. White isn't very important to me so I usually get cheaper whites and spend the most on other colors. You'll probably want to prime your surface with gesso because otherwise your surface will absorb a lot of paint and you will just end up having to buy lots of paint. If you don't have a lot of money for it and aren't worried about the archival quality of your work you can prime with cheap latex house paint too.
The thing that I noticed with acrylics (and the primary reason I changed to oils) is that it dries so quickly sometimes that I don't get as much blending as I want. If you are used to oils and you are doing a lot of blending you should also pick up some kind of blending medium (I find matte medium works well) or retarder. Don't use too much though or it gets a little tacky. Also, if you are unfamiliar with acrylics make sure your don't water it down too much- if there is too much water in relationship to paint other layers won't stick.
You can also use both oils and acrylics together. You can paint several layers of acrylic as an underpainting of sorts and then put oils on top to create more luminosity and detail.
Hope that helps.

Proud member of the Eastern Wa Etsy Team!
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2007 11:38:27 AM »

i use acrylics more for design for bold colors, but for "art" art,
i prefer oils. and i do agree about it being expensive but
to keep costs significantly down, i stock up during back to school
sales when oils and acrylics are almost the same price!

and for canvases, i like to buy large ones at thrift stores that would
normally cost $50+ for only around $10 (i just repaint) regular sized
ones are cheap too, when you buy in the the 2-pack economy packs.
a big ol gallon of turpenoid can cost only $20 instead of the normal 45-50
im me: childrenotherice (aim) for more tips if you'd like
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2008 12:04:16 PM »

I skimmed the other user's posts, but... Here's my two cents:

First off, don't use your old oil brushes with acrylics! It might sound weird, but there's still oil in that brush and odds are it's going to get into your acrylics and mess them all up on your palette. So, keep them just for oils. (Same thing with watercolors - My W/C brushes don't touch anything but W/C's).

There's good and bad of both.

Acrylics - They 'clean up' with water, except not really. There's no way you can get ALL of the paint out of the base of the brushes with just water. Furthermore, the more water you add to your acrylics on the palette or to thin them out, the more you risk permanently damaging your paint film (the paint will never stick to anything, it will flake off, et cetera). In other words, it screws up the paint. But, they do have a HUGE list of mediums you can add to your acrylics - even impasto mediums and butters to make them act more like oils without taking a gazillion years to dry and thinners to bring them down to watery consistencies.

Acrylics are just a plastic - almost literally. So, when they dry they're glossy and filmy. You can do amazing things with acrylics - they're flexible, almost completely water proof once dry. You can add mediums to them to turn them into airbrush paints, fabric paints, antiquing mediums, glazes; you can use them to do clear-film transfers from magazines, newspapers, laser printer images -- almost anything. You can thin them down (again, with mediums) to be used as watercolors almost, to be poured in puddles, dripped on canvas or stacked up like spackle for awesome 3D effects, you can stick stuff IN them (and they're stay), the mediums also make a FANTASTIC decoupage glue. Not to mention you can paint on almost ANYTHING and it'll stick.

You still need to clean them properly, though (see above about paint in the bristles). You can use Pink Soap (dist. by Mona Lisa), or The Masters Hand Soap - I would keep away from things like Winsor and Newton's Brush Cleaner and Restorer, though - as that actually EATS plastic. I lost a whole batch of brushes once by letting them sit in the cleaner. The bristles melted and fused together. It was bad news.

Acrylics DO dry quickly, though (again, there is a medium for this. Liquitex, for example has their Slow Dry medium and Flo-Ease - or something like that). I won't say there's limited blending with Acrylics 'cause I've seen some AMAZING artwork that I was sure was oil, but turned out not be. I think it just takes a good deal of skill and practice. They also have that glossy, plasticy feel and can - at times - gain a tacky surface that picks up lint and dirt if you're not careful.

Oils - I think you've figured out the biggest issue with oils already -- the WAIT. I hate waiting, too. But there's a beauty to oils that you don't get anywhere else. There's things like Maroger Medium used by the 'old masters' that gives a luminosity that acrylics will never have. You can layer glazes for days with oils that - when dry - show a depth of color you can't get with any other medium. They last a bazillion years, also. And you can blend them for weeks (almost literally).

However, they do smell. Their mediums (and there are a LOT of mediums) smell, their thinners smell, they DESTROY brushes (it doesn't matter how much money you dump into the brush, it is GOING to be garbage), they take months to cure and then you have to varnish them and that takes months also. And, I've heard from scores of artists that tell me they've painted with oils for decades (literally) and never had a problem, but all of a sudden the fumes make them sick, they get a headache, wheeze, ect. By this point, though, they're heartbroken and sick at the idea of painting with anything OTHER than oils.

But they're beautiful.

If you're still looking for other options, there's more than just oils, acrylics and watercolors -- try giving Casein paints a try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casein_paint (a dairy based paint), or Alkyds (often touted as the 'fast drying oil color'), not to mention Encaustics (beeswax based paints that you have to heat up and melt, then paint) http://www.rfpaints.com/1-Encaustics/EncausticTop.htm and Genesis heat-set oil colors (that stay pliable and viscous until you bake them either in your oven or with a special heat gun) http://www.genesisartistcolors.com/.

...This is a really long post. I'm sorry! If you've read my essay, though, I hope this helps!

Besides, who says you have to do one or the other? Do both! Do all of them!


« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2008 05:27:28 PM »

Wow. Thanks for the great anserws! This really helps. I think I'll definatley try acrylic now. Thanks for telling me not to mix the brushes. I so would have.  Grin  I'll also repaint my canvas  too. Great advice everyone!
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2008 09:15:44 AM »

JillBoBill has really great info.

As for surfaces, you can buy canvas paper for more practice or economical reasons.
Personally, I have found Bristol Board, Art Media Board (a specialty brand), and Masonite to be great options for painting. You get different surfaces and tooth with these various paint supports.

I have even used large pads of Charcoal paper to paint on. It's just a matter of stabilizing the paper with tape kind of the way you would with watercolor paper.

I'm not a fine artist and I don't sell my work. So at this point, I do not worry about archival quality of my paintings or whatever since I'm not displaying them in museums or selling them to collectors. Maybe one day I will... but for now, cost is a factor. stretched canvas is often too expensive and bulky.

« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2008 10:54:59 AM »

You could use canvas panels, too - canvas wrapped around compressed cardboard (Everlast, Creative Mark and I guarantee Fredrix make these).
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2012 08:36:38 AM »

What an informative post ! I'm no professional for certain but I so enjoy painting. But my budget dictates dime-store acrylics. One thing I've really enjoyed is using our garage stash of house paint (latex) to prime with. I most often paint on wooden panels like sections of plywood left over from this project or that. My family has joked that I'll paint nearly anything if it holds still long enough.

"To become learned, each day add something. To become enlightened, each day drop something."  Lao Tzu
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012 11:49:31 PM »

The main differences have been explained really well, but there's a couple things I'd like to add!

Someone mentioned the colours in acrylics being brighter.  You can definitely get fantastically bright colours in acrylics (which is awesome) but it's really easy to mix duller colours if you need them - just add a bit of the complementary colour to take the intensity down. 

One of the things I really like about acrylics is the number of additives and mediums there are.  These can completely change the texture, fluidity, etc of your paint, and you can get some really interesting results.  Check this out: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/medsadds/index.php  (I don't know if similar things exist for oils, or how well these would work for oils, but I suspect it wouldn't work out all that well.)
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