How to understand that the picture is painted in oil or acrylic? Learning to distinguish between both painting techniques

In any painting technique, be it oil or acrylic, there are secrets and procedures for applying paints. If you understand the intricacies of these processes, you can learn to see what the author wanted to say in his artistic message, using certain strokes and color spots. You can also train your own vision or artistic flair to immediately determine in which of the two above-mentioned techniques the picture is written.

Before telling you how to distinguish oil paints from acrylic paints, it is worth dwelling on the intricacies of both methods of painting.

Features of oil paints: advantages and disadvantages

Most young artists are afraid to paint with oil paints, as they believe that this is a very complex technique and is subject only to experienced painters. In fact, to become an author of oil paintings, it is enough to understand the theory, study the composition of the paint and its properties, and also develop the skills of several methods of oil painting.

It is paintings created with oil paints that are highly valued both from the point of view of art and from the financial side. Oil paintings cannot be cheap, since the creation of such canvases is a rather laborious and long process. And oil-based paints are not a budget purchase, because they are created from natural pigments. But there are significant advantages both for the authors of works of art and for buyers:

  1. Oil-based paintings are kept for decades or even centuries.
  2. Oil paints do not fade over time.
  3. They are not affected by temperature fluctuations.
  4. During the long drying process, you can make corrections to the work, thereby improving it.
  5. Good fit on canvas, paper, metal, wood.

However, oil paint has a specific odor, as do its special thinners, which can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. In addition, you need to consider the composition of each color in order to achieve the desired effect.

Oil paints are usually used for landscapes, still lifes and portraits. They are able to more realistically and subtly convey the beauty of the world around them.

Palette of synthetic dyes: features of acrylic paints

Acrylic appeared not so long ago as oil, but has already managed to acquire an army of fans, both among artists and among collectors of paintings. Its main difference from oil paints is the water base. In addition, the acrylic palette can offer unique colors that no oil pigments can ever reproduce.

The pluses include:

  1. Drying speed. Since acrylic is water based, the painting can dry in an hour. Compared to the time it takes to dry oil sheets, this is a significant advantage.
  2. No cracks. If you follow the correct technique of applying paint, you can save acrylic painting from crackling, which cannot be said with absolute certainty with layers of oil.
  3. Light shade arrangement. No need to follow the rules and take into account the composition of paints, mixing different colors.
  4. Hypoallergenic paint. Acrylic does not have an unpleasant odor, and its synthetic components cannot cause allergies. Therefore, both children and pregnant women can draw them.
  5. An acrylic painting does not need to be varnished to preserve it. Unlike oil paints, the surface of acrylic paints does not shine in the sun, it is completely matte.

Another advantage of acrylic paint is that it can be used not only for paintings, but also as wall decor outside and inside houses, clothes, dishes, etc. Oil does not have such advantages and is suitable only for high art.

How to distinguish an oil canvas from an acrylic one? 7 top tips to look out for

What to do if the task is not to create, but to acquire a picture painted in a certain technique? How not to fall for scammers? After all, unscrupulous sellers can assure, for example, that an oil painting belongs to the brush of a famous artist, but in fact the canvas is just a successful acrylic copy. There are several ways to determine exactly what colors the painting is painted with after drying.

The first way. Notice the canvas. Determine if it is raw (no primer) or does it have a layer as a base? Oil paintings must be primed, while acrylic paintings can do without this pretreatment. If an artist paints with oil on an unprepared canvas, then an “oil halo” will appear. Acrylic paintings do not form oil stains.

The second way. Study the paint color. Pay special attention to the purity of the pigment and the edges of the smear. Acrylic paint has a brighter color while oil paint can be cloudier. If the edges of the figures in the picture are clear and sharp, most likely it is acrylic. Oil paint’s long drying time and tendency to mix make its edges softer.

The third way. Pay attention to the texture of the paint. Take the painting and hold it at an angle. In this position, you can see the texture of the paint on the canvas. If the drawing is textured, looks multi-layered, the picture is most likely painted in oil. Acrylic paint is smooth and rubbery when dry, unless additives are used to give the paint a thicker texture.

The fourth way. Take a closer look at the paint film. If its surface in the picture has a glossy sheen, most likely the work of art is painted in oil. The fact is that acrylic paint becomes matte after drying.

Fifth way. Examine the signs of aging in the painting. Oil paint tends to yellow over time. In addition, if the picture is not restored and refreshed regularly, small cracks form on it, similar in location to a cobweb. With acrylic paint, age-related changes do not occur.

The sixth way. Smell the picture. Most oil paintings have a distinct linseed oil smell that never completely disappears, while acrylic paints have a very slight smell. It is more difficult to define a picture painted in mixed media in this way, for example, when working in oil, the artist can tint or tint the canvas with acrylic paints.

Seventh way. Arm yourself with medical alcohol. Take a cotton swab or paper towel and soak it in rubbing alcohol. After that, lightly run it along the front or side of the picture. If the paint is imprinted on a swab or towel, it is acrylic. Rubbing alcohol dissolves the binder components of the paint, removing it from various surfaces.

Use the listed methods to determine what colors the picture is painted with. So you will not allow yourself to be misled, and choose the work that is written in the artistic technique you need.