While acrylics are fun on their own, an artist treats a medium like a new car. You want to take it out and see what it can do! You might know that you can make acrylics look like watercolors by thinning them with water but I’ll start today’s article off by telling you how to make acrylic paint look like oil.
If you want to make your acrylic paints look like oils, just add some acrylic gel to your paints or alternately, you can simply order and use some specialized slow-dying acrylics. I prefer the gel method because not only can you blend the colors like oils, but you get a glossier look from the finished work.
In this article I’ll talk a little more about acrylics, oils, and how they play together. Without further ado, let’s get started!
What happens if you add oil to acrylic paint?
Mixing oils and acrylics is not a good idea. You’ve heard the old age about oil and water not mixing and that’s exactly what happens when you mix your oil paints and your water-based acrylics. The oil, offended, is just going to separate and go its own way, and while the mess like look interesting, you’ve got a new problem to deal with.
Separate drying times.
If you paint with the odd little ‘frankenmix’ that you’ve concocted, you’ve now got a problem with different drying times, and that’s going to lead to a cracked, uneven mess. You see, when it comes to drying, oil paints like to take their time – up to 24 hours, in fact. Acrylics, however, are always in a hurry, and depending on thick you paint them on, their drying time is a mere 20 to 30 minutes, maybe an hour if you’ve slapped it on really thick.
So, while it would be cool to simply mix them together, they aren’t going to play well this way. That said, in the next section, I’ll tell you something that you can do to get them to play together anyway!
Can you use acrylic paints in an oil painting?
Just in case you didn’t know, you CAN use oils and acrylics together, it’s just all about the order that you do them in. Your acrylic dries quickly, so if you want to have a little fun with acrylic and oils, them go ahead and paint a basic composition with your acrylic paints. Let the acrylics fully dry, and then start touching up areas or adding little details in with you oils.
It’s as simple as that. You want to make sure that you follow that order, however, and that your acrylics are dry before you do this or you’re going to have a mess. If you make the mistake of painting with oils first, then what will happen is the incompatible drying times problem will kick in, and you’re going to end up with an ugly, cracked painting.
Just do the acrylic part first and then break out those glossy oils and you should have a good time. You might paint a scene with water in it, for instance, and add in some glossy oil details to the water, so that it looks a bit more surreal than the rest of the painting. Mirror reflections are another cool idea.
Just have fun and see what you can whip up… mixing mediums can be a treat!
Making your acrylic paint look like oils
Now, I’d mentioned at the beginning of the article that you make your acrylics look more like oils if you want to. To do this, just get a nice acrylic gel to mix in with your paints if you want them extra glossy. Alternately, you can get some slow-drying acrylics or simply add a retarder to slow the drying so that you can do mixing ‘on the fly’ like you would with oils.
This is something that is going to take a little practice, however, so don’t get frustrated if your first attempt is not perfect. That’s completely normal, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience mixing this way with oils before you try this.
The slower drying time of your acrylic paints will allow you to do some nice effects, previously only available with oils paints. Try a little blending and I also recommend trying to whip up some soft edges. With a little practice, you can make portions of your scene seem blurry at a ‘distance’ with the main focus being the subject of your work. It’s kind of like a looking at a photo where the background is a little blurry.
Give it a try, have fun with it, and you’re welcome!
Some final words
Today I’ve talked with you a little about acrylic paints and how you can make them look like oils. Making your acrylic paint look like oil is actually quite easy – you just need a slow drying acrylic or you can add some acrylic gel to your color and it will let you mix on the fly and do lots of other nice ‘oil’ effects.
While we’re on the subject of oils and acrylics, if you’d like to take an in-depth look on some of the differences then this 3rd party link can help you to do exactly that. It does a bit of comparison on the look and the techniques that I think you are going to enjoy.
Thank you for your time and if you’ll excuse me, I have an idea for some oil on acrylic that simply cannot wait. Happy painting!