The Difference of Acrylics and Oil Paints for Canvas


You already have all the materials you need for painting. You're excited to start and brush those colors on your canvas. For a beginner like you, everything is a matter of draw and paint. There's already an idea in your mind to start the portrait painting you've wanted to try. The problem is, whether you're going to use a large canvas art paintingor the small one and you still don't know what kind of paint you're going to use. You still can't decide if what is better for a newbie like you.


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Know this guide and see what's best for you:

1. Time (Do you work slowly or quickly?)


  • Acrylic Pros: You can paint anything you want. This is one of the things that make acrylics a better medium when starting or learning to paint. You can start anything like paper, boards, cards or whatever you have on hand.

  • Acrylic Cons: They dry really fast. You have to do some painting, you've got a canvas ready and you're ready to paint. You started squeezing paints when your little sister suddenly opened the door. You had to stop from painting and after a few seconds, the paint you'd squeezed out is already dry and solid. So you have to do some adjustments again after the mess.
  • Oil Pros: Longer working time needed. Oil paints stay wet longer than acrylics. It requires a lot of time if you will be using it. You started painting today, and tomorrow you'll have to go back to see if it's already dry.
  • Oil Cons: The key is preparation: It will take you more time for preparation due to the corrosive nature in oil paints. When preparing the surface of the canvas by yourself, the preparation is longer.

2. Color Shift


  • Acrylic Pros: They are very lightfast. Acrylics won't fade for a long time. The colors will still look the same up to 200 years. Acrylics are already tested in the laboratory to enhance the effect as years goes by.

  • Acrylic Cons: When dry, they change color. This becomes really common, especially painting portraits. You think you already used the precise color, turn around and the color has suddenly changed. It requires practice, but don't worry if it happens at first.

  • Oil Pros: No immediate shift in color. Oils stay the same when painted on canvas. Others put some other chemical compounds to make it look more beautiful than the usual oil painting.

  • Oil Cons: There's yellowing. As it gets older, oil paints will have a slight yellow on them due to the color of the oil and when it dries, oxidation process takes place.


3. Working Environment


  • Acrylics: They can be a great alternative to oil paints if you are working in a confined space or unventilated area. They have no smell and are non toxic.

  • Oil: The fumes from the thinners can really overwhelm you, and the turpentinecan be really strong for the nose. So it's better that you work in a place where no one will get affected by the smell and well-ventilated area.

Once you already know the pros and cons of each and you have the chance to use them, you'll be able to know which paint is best for you. You can then create your own masterpiece.


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