Acrylic vs Oil Paint: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Whether you’re an experienced art collector or a beginner artist looking to dive into painting, it’s important to research and understand the differences between acrylic and oil paints. 

Both mediums have unique characteristics that impact everything from color to texture, drying times, and painting techniques.

While the type of paint you decide to collect or create depends on your unique needs and preferences, understanding set acrylic and oil paintings apart can help you take the right path. Below, we’ll look at how these two art forms differ to help you decide on your next painting

Acrylic vs Oil Paint: An Overview

Let’s start by understanding the differences between oil paintings and acrylic art. 

Oil Paint

Oil painting has been around for centuries and is used in many of the world’s most renowned works of art.

In oil painting techniques, pigment is combined with a curing oil, such as linseed or walnut oil.

Drying oils evaporate through oxidation and polymerization, forming a film on top of the paint’s surface. This gives the paint a glossier appearance and feel.


Acrylic is a more recent medium known for its quick-drying properties and fast application. It is made from acrylic acid and is used in products like Plexiglas and Lucite. 

Let’s look at the best option for you if you are an avid art collector or beginner artist. 

Acrylic vs Oil Paint For Art Collectors

oil paint

When it comes down to choosing the right paintings to enhance your home, corridor, or art gallery, it is important to understand how the type of paint you select will impact the room’s look, feel, and texture. 

Oil paintings have been used consistently since Renaissance times, and they are known for their smooth surfaces, vibrant colors, and balanced texture. On the other hand, acrylic paint has only emerged in recent years and has been used by artists to experiment with bold ideas. 

Understanding how the two art forms are different can make it easy to examine art collections and navigate Singulart’s catalogue to find the right oil painting or acrylic artwork. 


Acrylic painting offers three-dimensional texture and bold colors and, throughout the modern history of art, this technique has been used for contemporary and pop art trends. This means that acrylic painting will better fit a collection of art centered around more recent, bold, or abstract art. 

Oil Paint

Oil paintings and techniques go back to before the 12th century, and this medium has been consistently used by some of the greatest fine artists throughout history. Oils have been greatly appreciated for their ability to create beautiful textures and vibrant colors, which provide artists with endless creative possibilities. 

Although oil is still used today by contemporary artists, oil paintings better fit a classical collection of fine art pieces.

Acrylic vs Oil Paint For Beginner Artists

If you are a beginner artist looking to create art to sell or decorate your home, oils, and acrylic are two of the main mediums worth considering. However, in this case, you’ll be looking at different properties of these mediums, such as ease of use, drying times, and cost.

You may also keep in mind that the painting created with acrylic colors will have a completely different feel from those created with oil-based paint. 

If you are struggling to choose between the two mediums, the sections below can help. 


Acrylic paint is the go-to choice for many beginner artists. This is because acrylic paints are highly versatile, readily available, and affordable to most people. At the beginning of your art journey, these properties can help you experiment with different techniques and gradients without a significant investment of resources. 

Additionally, acrylic paint is fast-drying and comes in a variety of colors and tones, so you can start creating your artwork without long preparation or waiting times. Lastly, acrylic colors can be used on a variety of materials, including canvas and plexiglass, which allows you to experiment with different techniques and art forms. 

Oil Paint

If you have always been a lover of fine art, you may consider drawing inspiration from the world’s greatest artists and learning how to use oil-based paint. 

Oils allow for more blending and manipulation of colors and, given the slower drying process, you’ll have more time to create the desired effect before the paint sets in place. And because oils take longer to dry, you can go back and rework sections without fear of damaging what you’ve already done. 

Ultimately, oil-based paintings take longer to master, but colors will tend to be truer and more vibrant.

Choosing Between Acrylic and Oil Paint: What You Need To Consider

When it comes down to choosing between acrylic and oil-based paint for your collection or artwork, a lot will depend on your personal preferences, skills, and available funds. However, generally, some factors that will help you decide between the two include:

  • Availability of materials 
  • Cost and convenience
  • Feel and look of different mediums
  • Your preferred style
  • Your current portfolio of artwork
  • Your home’s style and decor
  • The type of result you wish to achieve

If you are unsure how to get started, working with a specialized artist or experienced art collector can help you invest your time and resources wisely!