Love hate relationship with acrylics

Just wondering if anyone else has a love hate relationship with acrylics. I’ve been paintings with acrylics for about 10 years off and on and love them. But every once in awhile I feel that acrylics are not looked at by collectors in the same way as oils are, could just be me though. So then I hate them and start painting with oils again. Then back to acrylic well, because I love them. Any thoughts?

I used them a lot for tight commercial jobs, but never for fine art. I find the colors cold, though I’ve seen others get wonderful results. So for me, it’s just hate.

It’s a fallacy that acrylics are not looked at by collectors in the same way as oils are. It’s the work itself, not what medium is used to make it.


I find there are a lot of people who would rather have oil. I use both, though I just do fun art, nothing serious or fine. Just fun.

I do hate the way acrylics can look plasticky in the wrong hands (mine) haha, and they dry so much darker (annoying!). So for some things, acrylic underpainting, oil on top. Perfect time saver instead of waiting for the pesky oils to dry. I paint in layers (probably primarily due to learning on acrylics), I someday will be able to paint ala prima in oils…when I am able to boldly put paint on thick and buttery like. :smile:

I love both mediums. I have been painting with Golden Opens for sometime now. They stay wet longer so that I can modulate colors the same way I do with oils. The pros for me on using acrylics is they are safer to use than oils. There are no caustic fumes to breathe in and I don’t get paint on everything I touch. I do love oils because they look good on canvas! They have more luminousity. I have not noticed collectors having a preference. I have found that the painting, whatever the medium, is what speaks to them. Also in art competitions where oil and acrylic are in the same category, I have won awards with acrylic paintings. I do prefer oils when plein air painting because they do not dry out as fast.

1 Like

Sunny peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are serious, I eat them everyday :yum:

1 Like

I’ll have to give golden open a try.

1 Like

There seem to be more acrylic paintings online in the UK than most other mediums; maybe because abstracts are big sellers here and acrylics go hand-in-glove with such works. I notice in the U.S (mainly by looking at DPW) that oils seem to be more numerous, though. I use acrylics now and again, but far less than I used to about ten or twelve years ago. It is an interesting medium but I’ve never really felt settled with it. I would agree that it is the subject that is important, rather than the medium, but you’d be surprised how much snobbery there is around re oils versus other mediums; people have been taught that oils are “the” thing to have, and that media like pastels and pencils (and maybe acrylic too?) are somehow inferior or just preparation tools. Personally I use all sorts of things and if people don’t like what I’ve done, well they don’t have to buy it.

No love/hate here, only love! I’ve used acrylics since 1972, and also painted in oils for many years. These days I use acrylics almost exclusively. I need something that dries fast, and can be varnished and shipped right away. Plus,my acrylics have aged better than the oils. They look pristine decades later. I’ve never seen one yellow, peel, or crack. Can’t say the same about some of my older oils.

I think the only disadvantage is on the internet. In person, people will buy what they like. They care more about the look than the materials. My acrylics look just like my oils (even I can’t tell the difference), so it’s not an issue in a side-by-side comparison.

Online, the problem is being found, and “acrylic” is a lousy keyword. Online galleries often put oils and acrylics in different categories, and guess which category people browse? In a search, they’re more likely to Google “oil painting” than “acrylic painting.” It’s often not that they absolutely must have an oil, but that they want a certain look, a painting on a panel on canvas with some texture that doesn’t need to be framed under glass.

I feel it’s not cheating for an acrylic painter to liberally sprinkle a blog or website with phrases like,“looks like an oil painting,” or to use “oil” as a keyword. Same thing goes for an acrylic artist who paints in a watercolor style. We need to use keywords to point people to the look they want, and educate them about our materials.


I used oils for years, as well a watercolors. Then I saw a demo of the Golden Open acrylics and I was hooked. I switched and have never gone back. They are a bit looser than I’d like but they stay wet longer and I love that I can put my palette in an air tight box and they stay wet for weeks. I like that idea of the key words and educating collectors to oil vs. acrylic. I too have an oil that has cracked from years ago.

Thank you everyone for your input. I guess I’ll stick to my acrylics and make it about the work not the kind of paint.
I recently have been experimenting with acrylics on paper and was surprised how its turned out. Now I need larger paper.

I am late coming to this topic. I am an oil painter and have been forbidden to bring my paints to workshops in spite of the fact that I do not use solvent. I was told that acrylic is a safer medium. Recently, I found an academic oil painter teacher who disputed the safety of acrylic paint and suggested that we all, as artists, become familiar with the possible hazards of all our material by reading the MSDS(Material Safety Data Sheets). It is interesting to note that off-gassing from acrylic paint continues, even after the work is hung on the wall. Oil painting has no such issue. I am aware that people’s sensitivities to compounds are paramount these days so just wanted to share this information as I find that decisions are being made to eliminate oil paint from hardware stores and yet acrylics contain much to concern us as well. Golden Paints MSDS is available online for those who are interested. Other paint companies provide these also.

I never realized that golden used ammonia in their paints. That would actually make oils safer since the binder is linseed oil. Most people don’t realize that linseed oil is flax seed oil, I mean people eat it.
Just some pigment are known to be toxic.

I love acrylics and have used them for many years. I like that they dry fast and the colors are bright. I just had my art booth at the Gilroy Garlic festival this weekend and most people thought my paintings were oils. I think that acrylics are versatile, they can look like an oil or a watercolor depending on how you use them.

1 Like

I started using oils when I began to paint…way back in the dark ages when I lived in NJ. I had a room to myself there and could hang the oils around the room to allow them to dry. Here, in California I have a small place and switched to acrylics 37 years ago when I moved here. I love them. I can water them down almost like watercolors or I can use them thick like oils. I believe they are respected as oils when the painting is good and they look awful (same as oils) when the painting is bad.

I was an oil painter for many years, but I always wanted to use something safer, and not have turps in my house. I would try acrylics and get frustrated and go back to oils. Then Golden Opens came on the market, and I have never looked back to oils again. I like working with the paint when it gets thicker as it ages in a sealed palette and how I can keep the palette going for a year or more, by just adding more paint. Most of all I like the look of it. Easy clean up is good too.

1 Like

I learned to paint with oils from a neighborhood artist who taught many kids at a time 5 days/week for years. Sadly, she ultimately got emphysema and stopped teaching so she could continue painting herself. I enjoy the richness and blendability of oils. The smell still gives me the urge to paint. I now paint with acrylics and can (or try to) achieve effects of oils. It’s a bit of a challenge (drying darker) but I like that they force me to be faster and more decisive. With oils I’d go back into them and fuss too much. I do like a soft edge or some blending so I’ve been experimenting with Golden’s Retarder in a little water. A few of my early oils with glazes have crackled but the acrylics have not altered. I agree that the public looks mainly for oil paintings and needs more education/familiarity with other mediums.

1 Like

I am stuck on the fence when it comes to acrylics. I find that the best thing about acrylics is that they dry very quickly. But, I have also found that the worst thing about acrylics is that they dry very quickly. :wink:


Just keep a spray bottle of water handy. I paint pretty fast so I don’t have to spray my painting but I do spray my paints to keep them moist. I also use a Sta Wet palette box and that keeps my paints moist for weeks with an occasional spray from the spray bottle.

I use oils almost exclusively because I like that greasy drag on the brush, but I’ve used acrylics, and have a set of Golden Open Acrylics. I have found that blocking in with standard acrylics, which dry almost instantaneously, then overpainting with the Golden Open colors for finishing causes the Open colors to begin to set up quicker than when using them alone. The manufacturer warns against overpainting Open colors with too lean a mixture that dries too fast and encapsulates the still uncured underpainting, but that isn’t the case with Open colors over the quickly-drying standard acrylics. It seems as if the standard acrylics react to the Open color overpaint by softening a bit themselves, and the whole painting was dry to the touch in less than a day. After close to a year, the painting hasn’t changed. For what it’s worth, my entry for the weekly challenge “Relaxation Station” was painted this way. Spent about 2-1/2 hours, start to finish, and the paint surfaces was starting to set up that afternoon.

1 Like