3 Main Differences Between Oil & Acrylic Paint

There are so many different types of art mediums in the world. Art can be done with pencil, paint, photography, pen, sculpture, you name it. For today, we want to talk about two different types of paint used to create art: oil and acrylic

While oil and acrylic come from the same family group of paint, they are more like cousins than sisters. They each possess completely different qualities when put to the canvas. These are just a few of the main differences between oil and acrylic paintings:

Which One Lasts Longer?

When you’re spending hard-earned money on a painting, you want to be sure it lasts through your lifetime, so that you may leave it to others to cherish throughout their days. So choosing a painting style that lasts longer is going to be in your best interest. 

Acrylic Paint

Did you know?

Acrylic paint has only been around since the 1950s. We haven’t had a ton of time to see just how long it lasts and how well it does over time. Therefore, it’s unknown just how long acrylic can last, because it’s still fairly new to the art world.

Oil Paint

Oil paint on the other hand, has been around since the 13th century! We still have paintings today in museums made from oil paint that have survived well through the ages. 

That means, you could pass down an oil painting to your great, great, great whatever and it would still look good. So if you want to know for certain that your painting will last, an oil painting is the way to go. 

How Do They Differ In Style?

Glad you asked! 

Oil and acrylic look very different on the canvas once they are completely dried. Each offers its own unique style.

Acrylic Paint

Painters often mention how quick-drying acrylic paint is. If you work with acrylic, you better be quick, because if you aren’t, you’ll miss out on blending the paint. Because of the quick-drying aspect, acrylic tends to look more like, well, a painting. 

You know how sometimes people look at a painting and say ‘Wow! That doesn’t even look like a painting! It’s like a photograph”? Well, people probably won’t be saying that about acrylic paintings. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on the type of art you want. If you want something that looks like a true painting, acrylic is a fine option.

Oil Paint

Now with oil paint, it can take up to a few days, sometimes even weeks, to dry. It all depends on how much paint a person uses. Obviously, the more paint used, the longer it takes to dry. 

The benefit to this is it allows the artist to spend more time on the painting, blending the colors and lines and perfecting the style. This results in a more realistic-looking painting. This is the kind of painting you’d look at and say, “Wow, that really looks like a photograph.”

Which Paint Provides Better Color?

In order to discuss which paint has better color, we have to talk about pigments. Strap on your safety goggles, we’re about to get technical.

The pigment in the paint is the material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of a wavelength absorption. 

In English, that essentially means the higher the pigment in paint, the more vibrant the color will look. Okay, safety goggles off.

 Acrylic Paint

While there are plenty of colors to choose from when using acrylic paint, it typically doesn’t have the vibrancy that other paints have. When the paint has lower pigmentation, not only does it mean the colors don’t pop as much, but it means that the colors can wear over time and become duller and duller.

Oil Paint

Oil paint, on the other hand, has a higher pigmentation. The colors for this paint have a wide range and they look bright and vibrant when put to canvas. When you’re wanting a painting that’s really going to pop, oil is the way to go.

Which Is Better?

Most people would argue that oil paintings are a better bang for your buck. They last longer, look more vibrant and have a beautiful realistic look to them.

If you don’t believe us, take it from the king of painting himself: Bob Ross. Yes, even Bob Ross preferred to use oil paint for his masterpieces.


Oil painting of a dog done by Instapainting
If you’ve been wanting an oil painting portrait of something or someone special for a long time, you’ve come to the right place. 

Instapainting allows you to send in any photo and have an artist create a painting out of it. Check out some of the great artwork people have already completed in our oil painting gallery.

With Instapainting, you can get artwork of your family, spouse, dog, cat, mom, dad, house, you name it. What are you waiting for? Send in your favorite photo today and turn it into a work of art.