Thinking of different ways to get results from painting a picture, I have decided I’m not all that crazy about acrylics. I know – throw rotten tomatoes at me if you want, I just don’t like the medium. I’ve given paint parties and the medium more or less has to be acrylic so it can dry quickly, people can use it in case they are allergic to the oils, and of course, the expense of the paint. So, I realize it has all these qualities, but to me it makes a better underpainting. In fact, it makes a beautiful underpainting.
When using acrylics for an underpainting I usually paint everything there flat, no shading much. When you paint over it with oils you can do all kinds of wonderful things you can’t do with acrylics alone. Anyone who hasn’t tried oils don’t know what they are missing. For one thing you can play with it until the cows come home, its oily and stays wet a long time. Summertime it dries quicker for sure.
This isn’t a commentary to bash acrylics but one to go into how many different ways you can use it. When you are using acrylics as an underpainting this works fine for oils. Just give the acrylics a thin coat of linseed oil and you are ready to begin on the oils. This saves drying time between the undercoat and finish. Of course, if you don’t underpaint you probably don’t need to use it. Oils over acrylics goes on very smooth and the blending capabilities is incredible.
As I’ve told you before I use a watered acrylic sometimes for sketching before painting. I water it so it can thin out, I may not want a lot of color left from the acrylic under the oils. It depends on what is being painted. I usually use a brown, burnt umber for this. It is quick, dries quickly and with that oil binder you can begin the oils right away.
Acrylics might be alright for something with lots of small flat colored pieces to it. A cartoon strip for instance would be good for that. Acrylics just don’t have the blending ability oils do.
Painting with oils feels altogether different on the brushes. It doesn’t leave a very smooth line like oils. You can go back after the first layer is dry and smooth those edges, I do that all the time.
So, acrylic has its place, it just isn’t my full time medium.