Acrylics vs Oils

We’re sometimes asked if we sell “oil paintings.”  For most of us, the answer is, “No.  Absolutely not!”  We only use acrylic paint, and here’s why.

First, a little history.  Two hundred years ago, an oil painting was something only the rich could afford, and the words “oil painting” came to mean “luxury.”  Then came acrylics.

When acrylic paint was first invented 50 years ago, it had a justifiably bad reputation in the art world.  But the technology quickly improved, and today’s acrylic paintings can look just like oil paintings–without any of the disadvantages of oil paint.  Acrylic is far superior to oil.

Modern acrylic colors are just as rich as oil colors, but they offer a greater range of texture and sheen.  They last just as long as oils, but they don’t decay, crack, or chip like oils can.  Fading is no longer a problem, because acrylics come in a wide range of rich, lightfast colors.  Acrylic also gives artists amazing new properties to work with for all sorts of special effects, yet if we want to make an acrylic painting look indistinguishable from an oil painting, we can.

Acrylics are also healthier for people and for the Earth.  Some of the ingredients in oil paints cause physical problems like headache, sinus, skin disorders, even cancer–and the solvent the artist must use to clean oil paint brushes and equipment has to be treated like toxic waste, because it is.  Not so with acrylics

And yet, at some galleries, the salespeople will tell you with pride that they only carry oil paintings and that they “refuse” to carry acrylic.  That’s just silly.  So why do they do it?

The answer is that they’re pandering to the buyer who doesn’t know any better, the one who is still left with those prejudices from the Renaissance and the 1950’s!  It’s time to leave the old “Oil is better than acrylic” nonsense behind, along with skeleton keys, 8-tracks, and outdoor plumbing.

Acrylic paint is simply better than oil paint.  It’s an amazing, wonderful medium, and we love it.  You will too.

 

That said, one of our artists still works in oil, especially for portraiture.  Why?

Well, some artists simply prefer oil for the way it blends or goes on or even for how it smells!  Other artists love watercolor, gouache, or encaustic.  We’ve even known artists who like to work in bark and epoxy!  Most of our work is done in acrylic on canvas, but the materials are always noted on each painting’s description.