Postaday2011: Oils versus Acrylic

Today I decided to recreate the same picture that I blogged about yesterday, only in acrylics. I drew the basic lines and began to apply the paint and it was like taking a step back and learning to paint all over again. I haven’t photographed the acrylic picture yet, though maybe tomorrow I will, mainly because I cannot believe how different it looks. I have learned something about painting methinks.

Because I have had no formal tuition in painting, I have no idea of the how the different mediums work and the exercise today in acrylics has taught me so much. They say the best way to learn is to do, I so agree. When I painted with the oils the colour just flowed onto the canvas and merged evenly because it was all still wet. On the other hand the acrylics were more or less painted wet on dry and so each brush stroke was the picture. It is difficult to describe exactly what I mean.

When I painted in oils I had to mix the colours. They mixed easily and purposefully. I was able to obtain the exact colours I wanted. The picture at the end of the base coating was acceptable as a painting because it could be considered a base picture. Everything blended perfectly. The only drawback is that I have to wait for the paint to dry a bit before I can move on and continue. Whereas the acrylic picture base coat was just a flat selection of colours that would eventually lead to a picture. It was very strange just how different I felt about each picture.

It will be interesting how each develops and which one looks the better. As I was painting this afternoon I was thinking just how much like life painting was. As in the acrylic picture, it is a perfect picture in a very short time but in sacrificing time the picture has to be done perfectly by the artist’s representation of what he/she sees. There is no time to play with the paint because it dries and so the artist needs to be able to create the picture perfectly using their own eye.

However, the oil painting is a slow and relaxing picture. The paint blends and moves in such a way as if to create its own images. Almost like a life of their own, oils have the ability to add soul to the work. It requires patience and an acceptance from the artist that what they paint is not necessarily what will happen on the canvas. I painted lines, added base colours and blended so as not to have ridges of colour. What I ended up with was a smooth blend of sea and sky, depth, light and shade… Where did that come from?

I reckon I need to paint with oils more, I like the fact that maybe I am not in control but if I work with the medium, it works with me to produce even more than I hoped for. It will take a day or two to dry enough but meanwhile I shall photograph the acrylic tomorrow for comparison. We shall see at the end which medium prevails. At the moment, I know which one is winning….Like the hare and the tortoise – slow and steady wins the race!



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