Understanding the difference between oil and acrylic paint is essential to any painter. This basic choice determines technique styles and on some occasions, subject. The main difference between the two is drying time. Oil paints have long drying times, sometimes taking weeks for them to no longer be wet. Weather conditions, such as humidity and temperature, greatly affect oil paint drying time. On the other hand, acrylic paints typically dry within an hour or less. However, there are slight color variations to acrylic paints when they are dried, wherein they may darken slightly when dry. Oil paints stay the same color regardless of drying time. Oils also have more pigment, thus giving more vibrant colors to paintings.
Acrylic paints are usually recommended for beginners because they are easier to handle and use. However, slower painters have found that the fast drying speed means they have to work faster too, which may or may not affect the quality of their painting. The fast drying speed also means that brushes have to be immediately cleaned after painting. Failure to do so could significantly decrease the lifespan of one’s paintbrushes. Nevertheless, acrylic paints are less expensive than oils and are more forgiving in terms of mistakes.
Beginners should try their hand with both mediums and see which they prefer. Many painters dabble with both, depending on their mood and interested focus. It must be noted here that oil painting generally sells for more money than acrylic painting, but this should not be a determinant for those mainly interested in the art.