Acrylic Painting vs. Oil – What’s The Difference?

acrylic and oil paintings

It can be difficult to tell the difference between an acrylic painting and an oil painting so in this article we highlight 7 differences between them.

1) Acrylic Paintings Have More Clarity

Oil paint dries slower than acrylic so artists working with oil paint often add details to their paintings before the paint that is already on the canvas has dried completely. This leads to more mixing on the edges of lines, which reduces the clarity of the painting.

One signature detail of acrylic paintings is that they have cleaner lines and more crispness overall.

2) Acrylic Paintings Don’t Have A Primer Base Coat

Acrylic is usually painted directly on the canvas, but an oil painting will probably have a thin layer of a primer base coat (usually Liquitex or linseed oil) between the canvas and the paint.

3) Acrylic Paintings Don’t Have Harmful Chemicals

Acrylic paint does not have the harmful chemicals that oil does, so it is much safer for the artists.

4) Acrylic Paintings Have A Rougher Texture

Because acrylic paint is applied thicker and dries more quickly, an acrylic painting will have a rougher look and the edges will likely be more pronounced.

5) Acrylic Paintings Have Cleaner Lines

The increased structure and cleaner lines in acrylic paintings are due to the compounds resisting each other and the fast-drying time of acrylic paint.

6) Acrylic Paintings Are Likely To Be Newer

Acrylic paints were used in the 1940s but they did not become commercially available until the 1950s when Leonard Bucour and Sam Golden created the paint brand Magna.

7) Acrylic Paintings Will Not Turn Yellow Or Crack

Here are some tips on when and how an oil painting can start to turn yellow and show cracks:

  • An oil painting that is less than a year old will not have any yellowing or cracking because it takes six months to a year for the paint to cure completely.
  • Yellowing and cracking are not always signs of aging – an oil painting may begin to yellow if it is kept in the dark for a long time.
  • If there is no yellowing, you can look for cracks, which will indicate that it is likely an oil painting.

Why Buy From Kohly Art?

Kohly Art has a wide range of art pieces in various styles, including modern renaissance and surrealist reality.

Scenes include cityscape paintings, Havana/Cuban art, ocean scenery, landscapes, and undersea paintings.

You can browse our art for sale on our website or in person at Key Largo Art Gallery (100320 Overseas Highway, Key Largo) or Futurama Art Gallery (1637 SW 8th Street, Miami).