Here’s What Happens When You Add Oil to Acrylic Paint

What Happens When You Add Oil to Acrylic Paint

Oil and acrylic paint are two of the most popular media when it comes to painting since both of them have characteristics that can really make the artwork pop. The idea of mixing acrylic paint and oil is attractive to a lot of people because they would like to capture and utilize the strong points of each. However, is this a good idea?

When you add oil to acrylic paint, oil will adhere to acrylic, giving it a more lustrous, smoother look–but only if the acrylic is completely dry. Otherwise, oil won’t have a stable surface to adhere to, so it will slide off. Oil should always be added to acrylic paint, not the other way around. 

This article will talk about why people like mixing oil and acrylic paint and what you should do to execute this combination correctly. Then, I will go over the factors that make oil and acrylic paint perhaps among the most popular painting media. Let’s get started!

Why Some People Add Oil to Acrylic Paint

Some artists like adding oil to acrylic paint because it allows them to enjoy the elements of both types of paint. Acrylic has a matte finishOpens in a new tab., while oil is glossy. Acrylic paint produces vibrant colors with sharp edges, while oil tends to be murky with softer edges. Furthermore, acrylic paint takes on a smooth, rubbery look when dried, while oil looks more textured. You can enjoy the best of both worlds if you combine them in your art.

However, you must remember some critical factors when you choose to add oil to acrylic paint. Remember that acrylic paint is water-basedOpens in a new tab., and oil is made by mixing pigment with a drying oil (walnut or linseed oil). Generally, water and oil do not mix well. Moreover, acrylic paint dries fast, and oil takes a while to harden and dry. These opposing elementsOpens in a new tab. can create significant issues if you do not mix acrylic and oil paint correctly.

Here are some essential tips to remember:

Never Mix Acrylic Paint and Oil on Your Palette

It is not a good idea to mix these two types of paint before applying them to your canvas. Their opposing properties will not react well, and the resulting mixture will be unstable and practically unworkable. Water is denser than oil, so the two elements will separate. Before mixing them in your painting, they should both be stable–or at least one of them should be. 

Fat Over Lean

Keep this in mind when mixing acrylic paint and oil in your work. Always paint oil over acrylic, never the other way around. If you paint acrylic over oil, the acrylic paint will merely flake off since it won’t be able to bond with the oil. Also, wait for the acrylic paint to completely dry before topping it with oil. This will give the oil a good surface to adhere to. 

The Acrylic Layer Should Be Thin 

If you choose to add oil over your acrylic paint, it is best to do so if your acrylic layer is thin. The porosityOpens in a new tab. of acrylic paint will allow the oil to adhere to the surface. If your acrylic layer is thick, its plastic compounds might prevent the oil from completely bonding with it, resulting in premature cracking and flaking. 

Why Some People Like Using Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a well-loved medium preferred by many painters because of its unique characteristics. Some say it is the perfect option for beginners, while others argue it is all a matter of preference. Whatever the case, using acrylics for your paintings is a great idea because it has distinctive properties that can help make your artwork more vibrant and appealing. 

Here are some of the most valuable attributes and advantagesOpens in a new tab. of acrylic paint:

Acrylic Paint Is Simple To Use

Acrylic paint is not a high-maintenance medium. It also does not require plenty of tools to get started. Unlike using oil as a medium where you need additional items, such as solvents and rags, going for acrylic paint makes creating art so much simpler. 

These are pretty much all the tools you will need:

  • A brush or two. Synthetic brushes work better with acrylics than those made of animal hairs. 
  • Cup of water. Be mindful about not using too much water since this may dilute the paint and affect its vibrancy.
  • Painting surface. Most artists call this “support.” High-quality support is essential in providing a good foundation for acrylic paint or any other kind of paint.
  • Acrylic paint. Stay away from inexpensive acrylics with questionable standards. High-quality paint with bold colors is a great investment. 

Acrylic Paint Is Easy To Clean Up

When you’re done for the day, any conscientious artist will spend some time cleaning the palette and brushes. If you use acrylic paint, all you have to do is place your brushes under running water and lightly rub the bristles with your fingers to dislodge any paint. As for the palette, you can simply wipe off the stains using a damp rag or wait for the paint to dry before peeling it off. 

Acrylic Paint Is Not Picky

Some mediums require a particular type of environment for best results. With acrylics, you can paint practically anywhere. You can do art in your bedroom where there may be poor ventilation, in your kitchen where it may be humid, or even outdoors where it may be windy. 

Acrylic Paint Dries Fast

Acrylic paint dries up faster than most other mediums. You can add layers quicker, so you get to finish your work sooner. You can even do glazing techniques easily by adding a glazing medium to make your paint thinner and more fluid. 

Acrylic Paint Is Malleable

You can easily control the consistency and texture of acrylic paint. This is why it is one of the most versatile among the mediums. You can change how it acts and looks by simply adding another medium to it. Due to its pliability, acrylic paint can take on the characteristics of other kinds of paint.

Acrylic paint can also be used to create sculptural pieces. Thanks to its malleability, you can easily peel it off any non-stick surface, and it instantly adopts a three-dimensional structure. You can then mold it in any way you like to create more texture in your paintings.

Why Some People Prefer Using Oil

Oil can be quite intimidating for some artists, especially for beginners. After all, a lot of the most admired artworks of all time are oil paintings. However, oil as a medium is a pretty fascinating option. It will allow you to create striking landscapes, lifelike portraits, and stimulating images that may be rather challenging to achieve with other mediums. 

Here are some of the most valuable properties and merits of oil:

Oil Is Versatile

You can work with various substrates if you’re painting with oil. You can paint on fiber, linen, or cotton canvases. You can also use both synthetic and natural bristle paint brushes. Red sable and ox hair brushes are the best choices since they can transfer more pigment onto your art. Palette knives also work great with oil.

Oil Is Durable

Oil paintings can last for long periods. Some artists add varnish or linseed oil to keep the paint from flaking. Others store their oil paintings in humidity-controlled rooms to better protect them. However, even without care, oil paintings can last for about 50 years. 

Oil Takes Longer To Dry

While this may be seen as a disadvantage to some, other artists see this attribute as a significant advantage. This gives you more time to work on your art and design it exactly to your liking. It also allows you time to blend colors and make adjustments without worrying too much about the paint or your brush drying up. 

Oil Has a Buildable Texture

Oil is a great medium that works well with other types of paint. If added to acrylic paint, for instance, it dries to a smooth, glossy finish that adds vibrancy and depth to the artwork. Remember to always employ the “fat over lean”Opens in a new tab. when mixing different paint mediums. You always add oil to other mediums–acrylic paint, for instance–if you want a unique texture and finish. Does this all still sound too difficult? If you are still wondering why it is still popular, you can read our article on Why Is Oil Painting So Popular?

Final Words

Generally, oil and acrylic paint don’t go well together because one is made of oil, and the other is water-based. Oil and water don’t mix. However, with the proper techniques, you can combine both media so you can capture the strengths of each. 

It’s pretty simple:

  • Always add oil to acrylic and wait for the acrylic paint to dry before applying the oil layer. For more detailed information, you can read this detailed article on Can You Apply Acrylic Paint Over Oil Paint.. 
  • Make sure that the acrylic layer is thin enough so that the oil will be able to adhere firmly to it.
  • Combine the 2 media on canvas, never on your palette.

WATCH – Can you paint Acrylic paint over Oil OR Oil over AcrylicOpens in a new tab.

Sylvia D’Silva Art
Was this article helpful?


Ines is a self-taught artist based in the UK. Originally from Caracas, she has dabbled in the world of arts and crafts in a diversity of ways participating in city intervention projects, sustainable practices’ open exhibitions, and her illustrations being featured in anniversary editions of literary magazines.

Recent Posts