Acrylic Paint versus Oil Paint versus Watercolor

Tutorials -

Since I’m not teaching this term, I’ve been exploring painting (more) and comparing oil painting to using acrylics to using watercolor. I’ve spent at least one evening a week using oils for the past six weeks or so. Which is to say, I still know very little about oil painting.

Oil Paint

  • Expensive
  • Takes FOREVER to dry. Because of this, I think it’s messy. No matter how careful I am, I always get it on my teeth
  • Toxic
  • Requires a lot of planning
  • Dries shiny, depending on how much medium is used

Acrylic Paint

  • Cheap
  • Dries VERY quickly
  • Plastic
  • Forgiving
  • Dries shiny, unless matte medium is added


  • Sorta Cheap
  • Dries quickly with a blow drier
  • Nice color saturation
  • Pain in the ass. Requires a lot of skill and patience
  • Dries flat, not shiny at all

(I’m still working on this one)

It can be nice that oil paint stays wet. I’ve noticed that I can spend a lot of time mixing colors with no penalty, and I tend to get closer to what I’m looking at with oil paint. On the other hand, I don’t have very much time to paint/make art/draw/mix colors, so I appreciate that acrylics dry quickly – I build layers super fast. And I can’t really build watercolor layers…it reactivates once wet and runs.

A value study


Some of my favorite things. Especially the book. Painted with iPhone.

In progress

I $%^& dropped it right after taking this picture. I haven’t swept the barn in weeks. So, there was a lot of schmuz stuck in the paint, which I worked out with a palette knife. If this was acrylic, there would have been no problem.

So far, I still prefer acrylic, then watercolor, then oil. As I become more skilled in what I’m trying to accomplish, I may appreciate oil  painting more. But, I doubt it. It gets on my teeth.