I don’t want to start a raging art debate… oh, no, wait… I do! Acrylic paint is by far the superior medium when it comes to the question of acrylics vs oils. Consider this the artists’ practical guide to why acrylic paint is better than oil paint:
1. Acrylic dries FAST
Acrylic paint dries VERY fast. Sure, you can get a retardant medium to slow down the drying process, but this is 2015 – who’s got the time to watch paint dry?! It can be frustrating to try to find your Zen in the process of blending acrylic paint when it dries in less than 20 minutes, but consider the oily alternative: waiting DAYS on end for oil paint to dry so you can start the next layer. Need I remind you… The solution?
Use a layering technique with acrylic paint, or just take a deep breath and go, Speedy Gonzales…
2. Acrylic is cheaper
I’m not going to give you the starving artist buys cheap paint shpiel, but I feel a lot more free to experiment with size and style if I’m not worried about wasting money on spilled paint. Relatively speaking, acrylic paint is a lot cheaper than oil paint, and with the canvas sizes I’m painting on at the moment and what I charge for them, my clients are also grateful that I’m not using oils!
3. Acrylic is bold, bright and dynamic!
Oil paint is made from natural pigments suspended in oil (usually linseed), which fade over time. Acrylic, on the other hand, is made of synthetic polymers, which retain their bold features. Oils have been around for hundreds of years, though (you’d also dull over time if you lived that long), whereas acrylics are a little over 60 years old… the test of time remains to be seen for acrylics. How bright are these?!
Acrylic’s dynamic nature is also to be celebrated, as artists can choose from a range of different finishes: glossy, matt, and something in between the two. Different acrylic mediums can be added to acrylic paint to give it new life and texture – the versatile nature of acrylic wins hands-down over oil paint.
4. Acrylics aren’t poisonous
Now, don’t go ingesting acrylic paint, but it’s well-known that oil paint is highly toxic. Acrylics are therefore a lot safer for young artists to use. As a clumsy adult, if I happen to have a glass of Merlot next to my rinsing water and accidentally put my paintbrush in my wine and take a sip of rinsing water, at least I won’t die from my mistake!
5. Acrylics won’t get you high
Have you been around oil painters? All you smell is the turps they clean their oily brushes with. Fortunately acrylic paint has a rather pleasant and mostly faint smell. No headaches or paint hangovers here…
6. Acrylics are SO easy to clean!
As mentioned above, you need a ready supply of turpentine if you use oil paint. It smells, it’s icky on your hands, and – in my humble opinion – it just doesn’t feel as clean as water.
To clean up during and after using acrylics, however, all you need a ready supply of dihydrogen monoxide… or in other words: WATER. So fast. So easy.
7. Acrylics are the chameleons of the art world
You can use the blending technique of oil painting with acrylics (just work fast – see point #1) or you can dilute it down to make it look like water paint. Acrylic is just versatile like that. I see you purists frothing at the mouth right now, but as a painter who likes to play with colour and see what my acrylics can do, the versatility of acrylic really works for me. So, there you go! Acrylics are definitely better than oils. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments 😉