Cow Study #9
6″ x 6″
acrylic on panel
©2012 Tracy Wall
Here’s the partner to the painting in last post.
As to the differences between oil paint and acrylic paint…
Yes, both come out of a tube, but they have vastly different properties that (for me) make working with each of them a whole different animal. Here are my observations…
drying time – Drying properties matter as this will determine if I can work with the paint for several sessions while still wet, or if paint dries and I should plan on painting separate additional layers on top. Acrylic paint dries quickly (in 5 – 30 minutes depending on thickness), while an oil painting can last a few days still wet to the touch and a few months to completely dry. I can also use an acrylic gel additive to slightly slow the drying time to an hour or so.
forgiving – Because oil paints do take longer to dry, I find them more forgiving. Spend a day working on a part of a painting and still don’t like it? Wipe it away and try again without jeopardizing what works.
solubility and toxicity – Oil paints are oil-based, which can make clean-up more complicated. You need some kind of solvent (I use Gamsol – less smell) or turpentine to clean your brushes. These are flammable and more care needs to be taken in their use. Acrylic paints are water-based and conveniently wash up with soap and water, but must be cleaned right away before paint dries.
color fade – Acrylic paint dries slightly darker than when wet. this can making it difficult to not only predict the color you want, but hard to mix/match the other colors already dry.
texture: Oils can be used thickly creating a texture you can feel to the painting. Acrylics usually dry flat even though they may have texture when wet. Again, I can also use a gel additive to acrylics to help create a little more pastiness that can offer texture.
Being that I like to slop around while the paint is still wet, I prefer oils. However, the more I work with acrylics the better I get at planning how to use them within the limited time. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried working with acrylics again, and I’ll certainly give it a go again!