Thick vs. Thin Paintings

Lately I have noticed that a lot of my work has gotten thinner as opposed to much thicker paint that I used to use. I know that the majority of the reading and various forms of studying and workshops always say to paint thicker, it makes your work look more professional, and I think I agree. However going thinner has seemed to enable much more precision. I do think when varnished and finished the thicker paintings look better, but does that make the thinner paintings not as good to a buyer? Personally, I like the more precision that I get with the thinner paint. I always worry though that it’s a stained canvas, not a painting.

I do not think you need to worry tl…as when you think about it…water colour paintings are not ‘thick’. I suppose you could say they are ‘stained paper’. Paint…thick or thin, oil or acrylic, if we are happy with our work that is what matters…in my humble opinion. Have some of each. They are all paintings and you are the creator.


People seem to want the thicker for old classic work styles, only second to the actual image though. Fun art, food and the like are acceptable any way you paint it.

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I’ve had a similar experience. While I love the painterly quality of thicker paint, I find when applying it thinner I can achieve the ethereal quality I’m sometimes going for. I agree with all the above. The only thing that should matter is the quality of the painting itself. But I do think that the finished painting should not allow the canvas texture to show through, so apply at least enough paint to achieve that or use a smoother surface.

It’s funny, when I started painting years ago I painted in very thin washes only because I was afraid of wasting paint, but ended up with a lot of pleasing (albeit accidental) glazes and an ethereal quality like Jane mentioned. As the years moved on the paint got thicker because, as you said, that’s what every instructor seems to encourage.

Lately I’ve had the urge to go back to old way.

In all honesty, I think I was a lot happier when I knew a lot less about the conventional way to do things, which is ironic considering all the time I’ve spent chasing down the knowledge.

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My thoughts exactly…