Oil vs. acrylics

As I mentioned in my last post, I learnt to paint with oil paints, but I’ve since moved to using acrylics. I wanted to talk to you about how and why that happened; but also about my own experiences of both.

Oil paints are dreamy! They have the most delicious smoothness of application and make everything you’re doing feel amazing. I would compare them to the soft butter icing on a cake (you know – that feeling you get when it starts to melt in your mouth after the first bite…). Am I making you drool yet? Well, that’s exactly what oil paint does to me! So why did I stop using them? Firstly, you have to use turpentine or a similar strong medium to clean up – it’s toxic and personally think it’s dangerous to have around when there’s little ones about. I also stopped painting over 10 years ago and was honestly scared to use them again… I was unsure and felt like I’ve probably lost the touch and knowledge of using them.

I took a leap and decided since I’m kind of starting again, I might as well try something new – that’s where acrylics came in. Now, I know some of you know the differences, but many of you may not, so I just want to point out that the acrylics market has changed and grown vastly over the last 10 years.

Acrylics are more playful and have a whole host of mediums you can use to make interesting textures, from crackle paste and sand gel to impasto and glass bead gel. I wanted to be more experimental, but I wanted to play it safe too. I’ll give you an idea of what I mean – have a look at this Sunset piece – it’s been created with acrylics, but I’ve applied them like oil paint – which is playing it safe for me.

Boat at sunset landscape painting
‘Coral in the Sky’, 18×14″ Gallery wrapped canvas

That’s because I inherently remember the application of oil in this manner – it’s a similar style to Claude Monet.

Here’s a different example – I’ve never really played with texture but wanted to give it a try, so I created this African Masai piece.

masai & night sky abstract figure painting
‘Stargazing’, 30×20″ gallery wrapped canvas

I’ve used layers of paint and then worked into it with a palette knife to create movement – something I’d never tried before but found I loved doing. The background is even created with layers of paint and which I’ve then built texture effects into. The pieces look 3D when you see them in person; sometimes even I can’t believe I created them

I found I loved the playfulness and how experimental I became using acrylics – so for now, they are my go to medium. Please come back and see how it’s all developing as I experiment some more…

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