A Guide to the Differences between Oil and Acrylic Paintings

Are you facing the dilemma of choosing between oil and acrylic paintings? There are several things to consider when choosing between the two. To be able to make a sound decision, you need to understand the pros and cons of both acrylic and oil paintings. Generally, it can be difficult to tell the difference between oil and acrylic paintings once they have dried and have been framed. To help you identify whether a wall art was made with which material, here are some tips to follow.

  1. Check the canvas.

This is the first thing you need to do to know whether a painting was made of oil or acrylic. You cannot touch a painting but you can see whether the canvas looks raw or has a layer of white paint or gesso as a base. Acrylic paintings can be primed or raw, but oil paintings need to be primed.

  1. Examine the colors.

When checking the colors in the artwork, you need to look at its clarity and edges. Oil paints take longer to dry, which means that they have the tendency to blend, causing them to have softer edges. Acrylic paints, on the other hand, have more vibrant colors because they dry faster. If you see crisp, clear edges on a painting’s colors, then you’re looking at an acrylic piece of art.

  1. Look at the texture.

Try looking at a painting at an angle to examine its texture on canvas. An oil painting will appear highly textured and layered. An acrylic painting will look smooth and almost rubbery.

  1. Inspect the film of the paint.

Does it look glossy? If it does, then it’s highly likely it’s an oil painting since acrylic paintings dry faster and thus look more matte.

      5. Watch out for signs of aging.

Older oil paintings tend to look yellowish with small spiderweb-like cracks. Acrylic paint does not have these blemishes even the older ones.

  1. Check the price.

Generally, acrylic paintings are cheaper than oil artworks because fewer supplies are required when painting with such material. You should consider your budget when choosing between oil and acrylic paintings to ensure that you’ll get the best value for your money. With these in mind, you’ll be able to make sound decisions when it comes to picking paintings based on the materials used.


Benefits and disadvantages of Acrylic and oil:

  1. Techniques.  You can apply the same painting techniques with both acrylic and oil paintings. Acrylic colors were first developed in 1950 and were intended for home painting. Yet, in ten years were commercialized and sold as professional colors. Oil colors go way back and all the beautiful paintings we see in museums and castles were made with oil colors.
  1. Acrylic colors usually don't require anything that contains toxins since it is mixed only with water during the process of painting and being easily removed from brushes with soap and water. Yet the colors themselves may contain tiny amounts of toxins. The retarder stuff some artists use to make their acrylic colors dry slower may contain some toxins. Oil colors may contain some toxins as well and also require the use of Turpentine to clean the brushes afterward.
  1. Drying time.  Acrylic colors dry quickly and it is very convenient if you want your painting to be instantly ready for use, sale, and show off. Yet because of this, you cannot experiment with colors too long or make many changes in your painting. Oil colors, on the other hand, dry slowly. Usually, it takes from one hour to a day for an oil painting to dry, yet you can play with colors, change, fix and work on the painting for quite a long time.
  1. Oil paintings are very durable and resistant to possible time damage. You can use liquid oil coverage or varnish coating on the top of your painting to help it remain durable even longer and better. All the old paintings you see in museums and castles are made with oil colors, so you can tell it is the best way to create a long-life piece of art. Acrylic colors exist only since 1950 so it is not quite clear yet, how long will they last In order to choose the right type of colors for you, you should ask yourself then, questions like: Do I want to be able to make many changes as I paint and play with colors as much as I want? How quickly, I need my paintings to be ready and dry? Do I prefer rapidly drying colors that are easily removed from clothes and brushes? And of course, you are more than welcome to try and use both acrylic and oil!You can buy small sets to experiment with them before you decide. Naturally, the most important thing is that you will have fun and enjoy what you do.