Acrylic vs Oil





by April Turgutalp



So you may question, which is better, oil or acrylic? I will share with you my opinion, and my tactics to adjust for each medium. My experience with oil is a love/hate relationship. I loved how oil blended, how it quickly made my paintings come to life as opposed to acrylic, where it takes layers and layers of acrylic to get the same effect. However, here is where things went sour for me with oil. One day, I had a tiny dot of oil paint on my elbow that I did not know about. This little dot, which was bright blue paint, made its way all over the house before I realized the horrific mistake I had made. Little blue dots, all over my house. By the time I noticed, it was too late. My house had a bad case of blue measles. Maybe it had a little to do with the bottle of wine I drank while painting, but I’d like to blame it on the fact that oil takes too long to try. Oil paint taking a long time to dry is a blessing but also a curse. You can take your time working on your painting without worrying about your paint drying up and the blending capacity is phenomenal. Cleaning is horrid. I’ve heard some artists let their paint completely dry on the brush then they say it crumbles off. I haven’t tried that yet, mainly because I am afraid the brushes are going to be ruined. During the summer, I use acrylic, and in the winter, I use oil. The reason I do this is because I reside in Texas, and I need to paint outside when doing oil, to avoid my house from contracting blue measles again. Painting outside in the summer would be a death wish so I stay inside during the summer, painting with the much safer medium, acrylic. Over the years, I have learned to tweak the acrylic with blending gel, which you find at Micheals art store, to have the acrylic blend better and not dry out too fast. Sometimes I use water to thin out my paint a bit but the blending gel works great. You can see the blending gel technique used in paintings like “foot cramp” and “delicate ferocity” on my website, aprilsalleycatart.com. With acrylic, I always use many layers. I wait for the first coat to dry, and go over the painting usually a total of 3 times. After the whole painting is finished, I spray a lacquer or some kind of finishing clear coat over the painting to give it that rich look that oil gives, and also to protect the painting. With oil, you can usually skip the layering and the painting becomes rich right away. I sometimes use a coat of gesso over the canvas before starting, this is because when using acrylic the paint will break across the canvas giving it a terrible look. Most of the time I get over excited about an idea and I forget the gesso part, so it’s always nice to paint them with gesso and set them aside so when you are overzealous to paint your amazing, fantastic, oh my god, crazy, this is going to be so awesome idea, you have a gesso canvas ready. It’s kind of like stocking the toilet paper so when you have a crazy need to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW moment, there is toilet paper available. It’s not fun stocking the toilet paper but you will be happy you did when the moment is right. So these are my little secrets on acrylic and oil. Once I get the courage to let oil dry on a paintbrush (preferably one I'm not too fond of) I will let you know if it works out okay. Otherwise, play with the two, see if beating the brush like Bob Ross did to clean his oil off in turpentine makes your heart flutter with excitement.





Bongo Jim is an acrylic painting with lots of blending gel