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Oil Painting vs Acrylic: 11 Reasons Oils Are Better

Oil Painting vs Acrylic: 11 Reasons Oils Are Better

Your artistic spirit will likely drive you towards experimenting as you pursue your love of painting.

However, you might be wondering about paint.

Specifically, you might question where should fall on the acrylic vs oil paint debate.

The oil painting vs acrylic discussion is a popular one.

The debate regarding which type of paint is the best for painting is filled with opposing viewpoints.

This topic is rife with opinions, and there are many differences between oil painting vs acrylic painting.

We, however, believe that oil paints tend to not get credit where credit is due.

This style has existed for ages and has been a prized tool among many famous painters throughout the years.

Sure, acrylics might have come in with their newfangled science and fancy new design.

However, oil paintings have been the base for the majority of the more famous masterpieces.

They are what make so many artists want to paint in the first place.

It is for this reason that we believe in oil paintings with the oil painting vs acrylic debate.

While we love acrylic paints, oil tends to give a painting a little something special that nothing else has. 

Whether you’re already using acrylic and considering switching from acrylic to oil paint, here are some insights about oil painting that may help you try oil painting. 

oil painting vs acrylic

What is Oil Paint?

oil paint on canvas of historical city

Oil paint is a special type of slow-drying paint.

This paint has particles of pigment, which are suspended in drying oil.

In most cases, this drying oil is linseed oil.

The linseed oil functions as a binder, which is one-third of the ingredients in oil paint.

The second ingredient in oil paint is pigment.

The third is a solvent, which is most often turpentine.

What is Acrylic Paint?

acrylic painting with knife

Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint.

Like oil paints, the pigments are suspended; however, the pigments are suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion.

Again, like oil paints, acrylic paints are made of three main ingredients: pigment, binder, and water.

Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

oil vs acrylic paint - colors
Photo by: Angie Holubowich

If you’re asking “is acrylic paint water-based” and love bold, vibrant colors then oil painting might be right for you.

The reason behind this is determined by the actual compositional differences within the paint types.

Oil paints are known for having more pigment in them than other types of paint.

Oil paint blending techniques result in such vivid results.

This tends to make oil paintings look like a scene that you can truly just step into.

This addition of pigment is known to give the color of these paints a vivid and vivacious appearance, especially when you know how to use color.

Many people prefer this to water-based paint types.

It is believed that this shift in the complexity of color is partially responsible for giving oil paintings more depth.

This is just one of many differences between oil painting vs acrylic comparison where oil comes out on top.

It’s Tradition

oil painting of house near sea

If you grew up marveling over paintings from brilliant artists from another time, oil paints might be for you.

Chances are that those stunning works of art were created using none other than oil paints.

Oil paint has been the traditionally preferred paint throughout history.

This type has coated the brush of many magnificent artists.

It is the paint artists have relied on for ages.

Since the creation of acrylic painting is fairly recent, you’ll find it used in modern pieces.

As far as the classics go, oil paints are responsible for making the beautiful defining pieces of art.

Those paintings fill the walls of your local art museum.

When you look at a Google version of The Starry Night, you are looking at perfectly blended oil paint that uses incredible oil paint blending techniques.

It is believed that the consistency of these oil paints made some of Van Gogh’s more interesting designs possible.

If you compare acrylic vs oil paint, this is something more difficult to achieve with acrylic paints.

Smoother Strokes For Different Folks

girl paints strokes on canvas

The type of artist who adores some of the more delightfully smooth painting stroke styles will love oil paints.

Oil paints are going to be your best friend when it comes to making those elegant lines.

The consistency of oil paint is known for its smooth texture that goes on easily with a brush swipe.

This adds a smooth look that might not otherwise be possible with other types of paints.

Though their acrylic counterparts might be useful for a sharp edge, oil paints are about the flow.

Creating a painting that flows within itself is a stylistic touch often characterized by the use of these paints.

This style of paint simply tends to glide across the page better than acrylics.

That is what gives that beautifully rich feeling of cohesiveness to older paintings.

The Power Of Layers

girl paints oil painting of house

A much-beloved feature and major difference between the oil vs acrylic paint discussion focuses on layers.

Oil painters can layer the paint to create defined textures within the painting itself.

Since oil paintings take longer to dry, they allow for layers and textures to be built up over time.

This can be done within the piece by applying more paint during various states of drying.

The results are often a fingerprint effect that makes each painting unique.

Acrylics are notorious for drying quickly and without care for the artist’s preference.

Oil paints like to luxuriate while they set in their ways and this gives artists a lot more control.

It means creating something like textured waves or the leaves on a tree is much easier and will help you grow your painting ability.

This is one more feature of oil paint that is known to add a certain depth.

This style of painting is often favored in more traditional painting circles.

Drying Time Allows For Perfection

girl artist works on abstract oil painting

When you paint with oil paints, it takes a decent amount of time to dry.

This depends on the amount of oil, the thickness of the stroke, and various environmental factors.

While this might seem like it would be a disadvantage, oil paints allow for more methodical approaches to painting.

A common issue reported with acrylic paints is that they begin to dry almost immediately.

As soon as you are done with the stroke, they are already drying.

If you’re looking to compare acrylic painting vs oil, this is something you will need to think about.

This means that there is little room for error when it comes to painting, which can be problematic.

Oil paints will let you fuss around with your placement and any color options.

Acrylic paints make it so that your painting is immortalized.

The moment you touch your brush to the paper, you are stuck with it.

For painters who like to take their time and strive for perfection, oil paints have a distinct advantage.

It’s another important thing to consider between oil painting vs acrylic.

Mixing Your Colors in Oil Painting vs Acrylic

paintbrush in hands mixing oil paints

Oil paints are better for artists who like to mix their paint.

Since acrylic paints are known to dry very quickly, mixing fresh paints can be difficult.

If you begin mixing a brilliant shade of blue that you dreamed about, you must be quick.

The color you are creating is already drying with exposure to air.

You’ll have to paint quickly if you’re wanting to do acrylic painting vs oil.

Since oil paints take a longer amount of time to dry, they are ideal for creating custom color palettes.

This means that you can experiment more with less paint loss.

It allows room for the mixing of complex colors that might require varying levels of more than two colors. For custom paint mixers, they are simply the right way to go.

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Do You Like To Blend?

woman in sweater mixing paint

For the kind of painter who is partial to blending techniques, oil paintings are a cut above the competition.

Due to their delayed drying time, they simply blend better.

Oil paint gives you a little extra time between swiping your paint across the canvas and drying.

This makes it the ideal paint to experiment with.

Blending can take a painting to the next level, so it’s no surprise why this is a major win.

Acrylic paint is more likely to dry faster than you can blend it.

Oil paintings, however, allow for genuine blending effects.

This is part of what makes so many traditional paintings so beautiful.

Being able to blend without drying the paint gives the painter complete control over the blending colors and textures.

This is great when you’re trying to experiment with blurring the lines or with creating that perfect gradient effect.

Do You Want Your Painting To Age With Grace?

abstract oil painting of female face

Both acrylic painting or oil painting will last a long time.

Though acrylic paints are still new, it is believed that they will last longer than oil paintings over time.

While this is largely speculative, it might sound like an obvious win for some painters.

However, oil paintings are known for surviving throughout history.

The subtle fade to an oil painting as time passes can be a powerful tool.

It is almost a part of the charm when it comes to the painting itself.

These paintings start bold and vibrant, and will slowly change to accommodate the passage of time.

This effect leaves them as a compelling historically aged rendition of their original selves.

These paintings last throughout history.

Rather than being entombed in a state of immortality like acrylics are touting, they age with grace and dignity.

How Drying Impacts The End Result in Oil Painting vs Acrylic

guy painting oils on canvas

One particularly strong case for oil paintings in the debate is the impact of drying on these paints.

A primary difference between the drying process for these products is the case to be made regarding color consistency.

Oil paint dries the same way it looks wet.

The color that you see at that moment is close to exactly what you will see when it dries.

However, acrylic paints are known for changing color and darkening as they dry.

The painting that you are presented with when you first paint it is not necessarily what you end with.

The vivid imagery that you will be met with as soon as the painting dries might look off.

Acrylics compensate for this by showing you how significant of a change it is rather quickly as they dry.

The fact of the matter remains that with oil paints, you can see your final product immediately.

Once you are done, you just wait for it to set in.

You Can Follow The Bob Ross Techniques

female paints picture with oil paints

This might seem silly to some.

If you grew up loving painting because of the videos created by Bob Ross, oil paints are the best.

Painting with oil paints is an excellent way to follow along in his footsteps.

He used oil paints to create all of his masterpieces.

This means that the techniques and demonstrations he gives in the videos are for oil points.

To best follow them, using oil points will be helpful.

There are no doubt countless videos on YouTube that you can watch to practice with your acrylic paints.

If you are hoping to learn from the original TV master, oil paints are a great place to start.

Beyond this, oil paints are used for many popular techniques.

Though acrylics can be subbed in, it can be helpful to start where other great artists did.

This is part of what makes oil paints such an excellent place to start.

When it comes to learning about techniques and color dynamics, they are simply helpful.

It makes a compelling case for them when it comes to improving your craft.

Whether you are brand new to painting or an experienced painter, oil paints are ready for you.

Bob Ross and his oil paints will always be there to help guide you towards greatness.

As you gather the skills for your next work of art, you will be happy with your choice.

Oil Painting Supplies for Beginners

green plants with painting supplies

When it comes to painting supplies, beginners could have a better and easier time using oil painting supplies.

Because oil takes longer to dry, beginners have more flexibility to make mistakes or take a longer time painting.

You don’t have to worry about the paint drying on your paintbrushes or canvas too soon.

Using your oil paint sets, you can come back to the painting a day later to make edits.

This is a huge advantage because when you’re making art it’s easy to develop blind spots and not see the imperfections in your art.

Painting with oil paint sets forces you to take a break from your work and look at it with fresh eyes.

Uses of Oil Paint vs What Acrylic Paint is Used For

artist working on new oil painting in studio

When buying painting supplies for beginners, you won’t have the experience to be fast.

You will most likely work at a slower pace, which is fine.

Acrylic paint is used for creating paintings very quickly.

To be an oil painter, you are automatically given permission to work slower and work in a lot of detail into the work if you want without it interfering with the quality of the oil paint.


When it comes to art, there is no one size fits all approach to making your art.

No matter what, you should explore every style and opportunity that you can.

This will bring your craft to the next level and grow your skills.

We would encourage you to experiment with both oil and acrylic paints.

You might discover something new in the oil painting vs acrylic comparison.

However, we land on the mushy traditionalist painting belief.

Oil paintings simply are what we look for when we think about making something great.

In the end, the major difference between acrylic and oil painting is that oil paint is the original.

If you are contemplating switching from acrylic to oil paint, and these insights helped you, give oil paints a try!

Lastly, I highly encourage you to go to my Recommendations.

These resources have transformed my art business in such a positive way that I just need to recommend them to you.

Which do you like to paint with, oil or acrylic and why?

Oil vs Acrylic FAQ

How can you tell the difference between oil and acrylic paint?

Oil paints typically have softer edges because oils have a longer drying time and blend well.

Is it easier to paint with oils or acrylics?

Acrylic paint colors darken as it dries. Oils look exactly the same as you first put the paint on canvas. Because of this, there is no “guessing” involved and can make the painting process less frustrating.

Is oil painting hard?

Oil painting is similar to any other painting type. Whether you’re painting with acrylics or digital painting, it all is the same amount of work. The only difference would be if you’re already really good with acrylics or digital painting. Then oil painting won’t be nearly as difficult for you.

Is acrylic paint oil based

No. Acrylic is water-based with an acrylic emulsion and oil paints are based on linseed oil.


Sunday 18th of April 2021

When I first started painting, I used acrylics. I had abandoned my hobby for a while, and now that I'm starting again, I decided to try oil painting; I didn't like the idea of using solvents for cleaning, but a fellow artist friend of mine told me about water mixable paints. I've tried them out, and I love them! (No need for solvents or turpenoids, you can use warm water and soap for cleaning, and you can thin the paints with water.) I now favor oils over acrylics. I recommend Winsor and Newton Water Mixable Oils. I love their rich, buttery texture, and blending with these is amazing! I think oils are a preferred medium for painting portraits, as there is a lot of blending involved. But, oils can be used for any type of painting. Ladies and gentlemen, get your canvases ready!

Jae Johns

Monday 19th of April 2021

Thanks for sharing.


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

If you use a slow blend medium or even better Golden Open Acrylics, you can do much more with acrylic. Oils are hard to fix and to paint over


Thursday 11th of March 2021

@Jae Johns,

Jae Johns

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Thanks for sharing

Taylor Hicken

Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

I appreciated it when you shared that oil painting is the best choice if you prefer something with bold and vibrant colors. My mother just told me last week that she is planning to get some oil paintings from a friend who is in the midst of decluttering her house since she is going to move to a new house next week. I will advise her to make sure that they are in good condition and if there are any damages, find a reliable service that can fix them.


Friday 4th of December 2020

I'm glad that I can help. I hope she has fun with her oil painting!

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