Further art discussions and notifications for the artwork of Sam Thorp

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Oil vs. Acrylic

Which is better?
the argument usually goes something like this:

They've been around longer. they have a tradition, a pedigree. They are a luxury item.
... but most of that is a superstition.
Oils are organic... (which might be nice if you decide to eat them). But in this case "Organic" means they have a greater decay rate. Oil paintings by the old masters are in constant need of repair. Oh, and oils are toxic. Don't eat them.
Oils ARE more expensive. You pay more for the paint and ALL the other stuff you need: Mineral spirits, linseed oil, poppy oil etc. and then you have to learn how to use them.
If you don't know which pigments to use with linseed and which with poppy you run the risk of discoloration. If you don't know how mix oil into the paint it wrinkles and slides off the canvas. And if you don't know how to clean your brushes properly you run he risk of sinus headaches and cancer. If you dispose of the dirty spirits improperly you poising the environment and can get arrested. (it's illegal to dump dirty mineral spirits down the drain or in the ground). Aaannd they're flammable,  no smoking. and must be stored in a flame - resistant case. (Which costs you even more money.)
The slow drying time can be a blessing or a curse.
"You can blend better with oils," ... because that's clearly the mark of a good painting. How blended it is. "Check out this masterpiece, it's all blendy!"
Just like Monet, Seraut, Gaugain, VanGogh.... and everyone who came after them proved it is more engaging for an audience to blend in the mind, not on the canvas.
"But, but oils just blend better"...  if you are having trouble blending colors it could be one or two things: you are using the wrong brush, you are using too small of a brush, maybe your just don't know how to use your brush..... or color, you don't understand how to mix colors, you don't take into account how colors will look in relation to the rest of the painting, you need to learn some color theory.
The slow drying time might give you time to cover your cluelessness, maybe you'll luck out before it finally dries?
Acrylics on the other hand seem brighter more intense. they lack that muddied down quality  oil pantings seem to have. They are way more flexible. Acrylic can look like a watercolor painting, a guache and an oil painting. They can be mixed to be sculptural. They are made of synthetic polymers. Still not safe to eat, but they will last longer. The color will last longer.  They are cheaper, requiring less investment and require less add on stuff. They clean up with water. WATER! You can clean your brushes in the sink. The smell is minimal. The impact to your air, body and environment is minimal. And they are simpler to use. You can also be more productive. getting more done. And NEVER have to worry about showing up to a gallery with a wet painting. You can dry them indoors under artificial light...or with the lights off. This would damage an oil painting.
If you add to much water to drips right there, it doesn't slide off the canvas later. The whole "fat over lean" rule does not apply. You just paint.
Personally I love the faster drying time. I work fast. I need the work to dry fast. I like the immediacy and gesture i can get over the labored "blended" look.  Drying quickly doesn't give me time to mess around or second guess myself. I have to KNOW my colors and USE the right brush correctly.
But that's just me.

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Acrylics all the way. Imagine how beautiful and lively the Renaissance period would still look now. Just think of Caravaggio using florescent day-glow pink and the like!

Oils have their good points too, but so does moving with times ;-)

Craig, London
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