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Can Oil Painting be Done on Paper?

Can Oil Painting be Done on Paper?

Even though oil painting and paper are not considered compatible in the traditional sense, paper tends to be a flexible material to paint on using oil paints.

We’re looking at the best kinds of paper for oil painting. For example, can oil painting be done on paper? How about can you oil paint on watercolor paper? We’ll be answering these questions and more. 

Oil paint on paper can work.

However, it is only valid for a paper that is appropriately treated or other types of paper that is specifically designed for oil painting.

Paper is reasonably priced compared with linen, canvas, and artboards. It is typically utilized for small-sized sketches.

There is an air of mystery regarding oil painting that has put some painters off from discovering them. Classical oil painters have painted mainly on canvas and wood board for thousands of years. Traditional oil painters have not customarily utilized paper as the paper can be degraded from the oil and solvents in this paint category. But, can you oil paint on watercolor paper or other types of papers? A diverse range of paper is accessible that facilitates oil painting, such as printmaking paper and watercolor paper. 

Other Related Topics to Help you With Oil Painting:

can oil painting be done on paper

Is it OK to paint on paper?

can oil painting be done on paper statistics

It is OK to paint on paper, after all, 67% of painters paint on paper; however, you will have to prepare or treat the paper like you would prepare linen or canvas.

You will have to size and prime before oil painting. Proper sizing will inhibit oil absorption, defending against embrittlement, premature darkening, and degradation. 

So, can you oil paint on paper? Yes. Now, let’s get into the details of can you use oil paint on paper.

What are the best papers can you oil paint on?

Paper works much better for oil painting than you may predict, so long as you prime the surfaces initially.

There are some papers that won’t work well, such as oil painting on newspaper, but mostly oil painting on paper can work.

When using paper, you will be able to make quick sketches because of the paper’s absorbent qualities. It enables the paint to dry quickly.

Can I use watercolor paper for oil painting?

When choosing the right or best types of paper for oil painting, it is suggested to purchase a good-quality, heavy watercolor paper.

Heavyweight papers do not buckle easily when it comes in contact with a fluid, consequently, drying off exquisitely, making oil paint on watercolor paper a viable choice.

Now, how can oil painting be done on paper?

Best papers you can oil paint on

Watercolor paper: Wondering, can I use watercolor paper for oil painting? One of the perfect surfaces for oil painting is heavyweight, rough-surfaced watercolor paper. Cold-pressed watercolor paper tends to be rougher compared to hot-pressed watercolor paper. The paper comes in the form of sheets, blocks, and pads. These sheets can be easily primed and support thick layers as well. So, can you use oil paint on watercolor paper – yes, and it’s one of your best options.

Printmaking Paper: Such paper also makes a tremendous acid-free surface for oil painting when primed with matte gel medium or acrylic gesso. You can either opt for pre-cut sheets or purchase a roll and cut it to your desired size. 

Mixed Media Paper: Can I use oil paint on mixed media paper? Yes, it’s a solid alternative paper to oil paint on watercolor paper. There isn’t really just one oil painting paper, but mixed media paper checks a lot of boxes. 

Other Oil Paper: Oil papers are mainly designed for convenient oil painting. Can you use oil paint on paper types other than the above? Yes. You will not have to treat or prepare it because it is developed with a strong oil barrier that will absorb solvents, water, and binders. This sort of paper can withstand a variety of painting techniques. Wondering can you use oil paint on acrylic paper? Yes, which we’ll turn to next.

Can you use oil paint on acrylic paper?

Acrylic paper is thicker than an average drawing paper, and it comes with a textured surface that is mainly designed as an adherent surface for oil painting. It can withstand numerous layers and coats.

So, can you use oil paint on acrylic paper? Yes, it’s another pretty good choice. 

These kinds of paper are ideal for Plein-air painting, sketching, and final works. Acrylic paper is readily available in the market and works well for oil painting as it can absorb oil solvents, water, and other liquids.

These are solid options when you’re asking yourself can I use oil paint on acrylic paper?

It will allow your oil painting s to last a long time. 

How do you frame an oil painting on paper?

Paper tends to be a delicate material, especially when you oil paint on it.

Framing oil painting on paper doesn’t have to be much harder than on a canvas. If there is a canvas on the side that is a specific paper designed for oil painting, then framing is easier.

Can you use oil paint on watercolor paper that you plan to frame? The answer is still yes. 

However, if it is just old paper, then it is recommended that you glaze the work. You can utilize a minimum of 1/4″ spacer to keep the glass well away from the paint surface.

Another imperative element is to either pin the paper to a backboard or window mount it.

An oil painting on paper just doesn’t have the structural integrity needed without support.

You can also frame it ‘close’ employing a blind spacer under the rebate of the molding. Oil painting frames tend to lay perfectly when stuck aboard. 

Thus framing oil painting on paper is definitely possible. 

How to store oil paintings on paper?

When considering can you use acrylic paper for oil painting, you’ll want to know how it holds up in storage. So, how do you store oil paintings done with oil paint on paper?

Storing oil paintings on paper can be tricky because it is a delicate surface, and the oil is liquid. You must keep the artwork in a separate room so that it does not get damaged.

When figuring out how to store oil paintings on paper, a few factors work differently. 

If the paper painting is framed, you can quickly wrap it tightly in a particular storage blanket or utilize a bubble wrap. Pack it up using tape, which should mainly be applied to the bubble wrap rather than the paper.

This prevents the oil painting from dusting.

Wondering how to store oil paintings if your artwork is not framed? You can cover it up with a silicone sheet and wrap it with glassine paper.

What temperature to store oil paintings

It is imperative to store paper Oil Paintings in stable environments that have moderate temperatures.

Oil paint on paper is even more sensitive than regular oil paint and needs greater precautions.

The ideal temperature for storing is 21°C. Temperature variations must be evaded as they might result in some irreversible damage.

Oil painting paper is quite sensitive to changes in temperature.

Humidity also plays a role in storing oil paintings. The perfect is around 55%. Higher humidity might result in molding that is hazardous for oil canvas.

Moreover, it is imperative to understand that oil paintings on paper need airing from time to time to avoid augmented humidity.

These risks are why you can’t preserve oil painting on newspaper as easily and need to pick and prime the right paper for oil painting.

Try to avoid direct sunlight because it can damage the pictures. It’s an essential thing to do when you are learning how to store oil paintings on paper. It is best to store pieces of art in a cool, dry, and dark place.


To wrap it up, oil paintings are best on a canvas.

If you’re asking yourself: can I use oil paint on mixed media paper, can I use oil paint on acrylic paper, or can I use oil paint on watercolor paper, just go for it! Most options will work and just have different effects.

However, using paper for oil painting s is also famous owing to its cost-effectiveness. Beginners can utilize this surface to practice.

That’s why, if you’re asking, can you oil paint on paper? Don’t worry, there are lots of options that work and are perfect for practicing. 

You will have to prime the paper and treat it properly before oil painting on it. Different types of paper are accessible in the market that can hold oil paintings.

Conversely, the best type of paper for oil painting s is a heavily weighted one. That’s why when we asked, can I use oil paint on watercolor paper, it turned out to be one of the best choices.

Framing and storing oil painting is essential.

Framing an oil painting canvas is easy, but you will have to take adequate measures to frame the oil painting when done on paper. Storing oil paintings on paper also requires you to regulate temperature and humidity levels. 


Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Rules are made to be broken. You can paint with oils on paper so long as you take precautions and take great care. Therefore it is not something I would recommend to beginners or hobbyists. Certainly commercial artists have used this technique for years, especially when the long term survival of the illustration is not a prime factor; but with due care and diligence, and contrary to what they teach you in all the art books, it is possible to paint with oils on paper. But, anything is possible in art. ;)

Keep on blogging Jae! :)

Jae Johns

Friday 16th of April 2021

Yes, thank you. I will.

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