The differences between oil and acrylic paint basically lie in the characteristics and behavior of these paints. To begin with, oil paintings are generally given a lot more respect in the art world and considered the right medium for true professionals and masters of classical art.
Acrylic paint, on the other hand, is a medium commonly used for beginners or amateur artists who either can not easily master oil painting techniques or who do not have enough time on their hands to paint with oils. By this, one can improvise that acrylic paint is easier to work with and faster drying but not possessing the depth of color and shade vital for making minute texture and tone changes in professional paintings.
Safety and Differences in Drying Time
There are also safety implications. Acrylic paints are much safer and can be mixed and washed with water, while oil paint requires turpentine and other mediums – which are toxic and not friendly to the environment – to thin and clean. Professional artists take adequate care and maintain well ventilated spaces to work with oil paints. But oil paints have been around for centuries and have been what the great masters worked with.
Acrylics can be used by almost anyone, are flexible and can be easily mixed with water to produce the desired changes in shade. They also dry faster, requiring anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour while oils take days. This is also stated as a disadvantage for acrylic paints as slow painters who take days to paint a picture and keep improving their work will have to work a lot faster with acrylics. Oils give more time for you to paint and improve on the work each day as you acquire a fresh perspective.
Richer Colors with Oil Paints
Oils are the preferred medium in the art world because they facilitate more vivid and richer colors, while some acrylics have a tendency to darken during the drying process. But oil paints are more expensive than acrylics and the choice depends on whether you want to get started and learn to paint a few pictures quickly, or want to spend time and money and paint a picture the way professionals do.
Oil colors require much practice and patience while acrylics are easier and safer to handle and you can do quick paintings in a short amount of time. Usually it is professionals who can afford oil paints and spend their days painting with them, achieving artistic perfection. Amateurs and students usually only use acrylics and they are reliably easy to master, not requiring specialized ventilated space for painting. These are the basic differences between oil and acrylic paint and it is up to your requirements and budget to decide which to use.
If you wish to become a professional artist you need to learn to use oil paints as they enable you to use richer and more artistic techniques to create critically acclaimed and respected art. However, acrylic paints are available with retarders, gels and pastes to increase the drying time and provide the variety in texture and help you paint in using similar techniques to oil painting.