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Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Oil Paint?

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Oil Paint

It is typically not recommended to mix oil paints and acrylic paints together on your palette before applying them to the canvas.
If you want to paint one first and then the other, it is okay to paint oils over acrylics, but never paint acrylics over oils.

One of my favorite brands for acrylics is Arteza. They have a huge collection of colors and styles. For oil paints, I recommend Gamblin, which is an artists grade paint.

Acrylics are water-based, and oils are oil-based, so they each have different compounds and different needs, in terms of drying time and setting. When you combine acrylic and oil together, they don’t actually blend together, so even though it looks like they did, the pigments did not combine properly and therefore, in a couple of years, it will break down and ruin the canvas with it.

However, once the acrylic paint is dry, you can safely paint over it using oil paints. Many artists like to do this because it allows them to enjoy the properties of both paints. What you should not do is paint a layer of oils and then paint over it with acrylics. Here’s why: the acrylic paint will be unable to stick to the oil paint, so it will flake off.

This can sometimes happen very quickly, almost as soon as the acrylics dry, or sometimes it can take weeks. In any case, the acrylic will definitely flake off at some point.

So in short, you can use both oil paints and acrylic paints in your painting – just be sure to use oil over acrylic, and not acrylic over oil. Remember to not mix the two on your palette.

I personally don’t recommend mixing acrylic paint and oil paint just for the fact that they are so different, I don’t want my painting to get ruined. These two types of paint are so different from another that the texture, color etc. makes significant modifications to your masterpiece. It’s simply not worth it.

Can I Mix Acrylic with Any Other Type of Paint?

Yes, as long as the paint you will mix it with is water based. For example, you can mix Acrylic paint with Latex paint. Though the two terms are sometimes interchangeable, acrylic and latex paints are slightly different.

Acrylic paints are generally known as artists’ paints, sold in more expensive tubes. Latex paints are generally known as house paints, sold in larger quantities, from pints to gallons. Because both are water-based, you can mix them.

Most artists do not want to use house paint for fine arts because it doesn’t last as long as artist’s acrylic, but you may want to mix acrylics with latex to get the exact color or texture you need for a specific project. There are decorative applications for mixing the two, such as painting indoor murals or furniture.

Do You Need to Add Water to Acrylic Paint?

The short answer is no. Acrylic paints come ready to use and does not require water to use. Although you might want thin your acrylic paints for a specific painting technique or if they have dried out, you can add water to try and restore them and/or thin them down.

You can thin acrylic paint to achieve differences in consistency and color, allowing you to attain effects that would have otherwise been impossible. These can range in appearance, with some thinned acrylics imitating the look of watercolor or even oil painting. 

To add water to your acrylic paint, I recommend the following steps:

First, add water to your paint. When only thinning your paint slightly, take your brush and wet it in clean water. Too much moisture can leave your acrylic paint looking thin; too little may not have much of an effect at all. To significantly thin your paint, pour water into a container with your paint and use your brush to mix the water and paint together.

Be sure you thoroughly distribute the water throughout your acrylic paint. Failing to do so can result in clumping or an uneven color. Have paper towel on hand for blotting brushes once you are ready to begin painting.

Too much moisture on your brush, or too much remaining moisture after you’ve cleaned your brush, can severely thin your paint, which can lead to drips forming in your painting.

Second, mix in a thinning or anti-congealing agent. I highly recommend this acrylic paint thinner. You can use one of these substances in place of water for a more controlled thinning of your paint. These will keep your paint from drying out too fast and thin it in the process.

Always add your thinning agent according to its directions, but generally, you should apply your agent in small amounts using your brush.

The composition of each of these thinning agents will likely react differently depending on the kind of acrylic paint you are using. It’s best if you add your agent little by little, until it has the desired effect.

What Is Better to Paint with Oil or Acrylic?

For my paintings I always use Acrylic paint, just because the colors are so vibrant, versatile and the dry time is pretty quick. Here are some helpful tips to help you decide which paint to use.

Oil paints have survived for hundreds of years, so they’re well known for long lasting quality, however, they do tend to discolor with age, something that acrylics don’t seem to do. Acrylic paint hasn’t been around long enough for us to really know. When it comes to color, oil paints have more pigment in them, allowing richer, more vivid colors.

Acrylics may also darken slightly as they dry, while oil paints do not. Acrylics are known for bright, rich vibrant colors that oil paints don’t offer.

The main difference between oils and acrylics is drying time. Acrylic paint will dry within an hour, if not within fifteen minutes. Oil paints will stay wet for days or weeks, depending upon the humidity and temperature.

If you are a quick painter, then acrylics might work better for you since your project will be almost dry by the time you are done.

If you paint rather slowly or take breaks during your project, then you might get frustrated when your acrylics dry mid painting. Some people who paint at a rather slower paint choose oil paints just for that reason. Although you can always add in a mixing or wetting agent to re hydrate your paint, if it dries out before you’re done with your painting.

I always prefer acrylics since the drying time is convenient for me and I tend to paint pretty fast. If I need to modify something in my painting later, I can always go back and use a mixer or paint over it.

The drying time also influences other aspects of painting. Mixing acrylics is more difficult than mixing oils, simply because acrylic paint will start drying right after you mix it. With oils you can mix colors for days on end, producing subtle color variations that you won’t have time to make with acrylics.

I always recommend cleaning your brushes quickly after you’re done painting with acrylics—waiting too long can cause the bristles to become dry with paint. On the other hand, cleaning up with plain old water is a snap compared to oil paints.

One thing to keep in mind is that oil painting supplies are more expensive than acrylics, so for students or hobbyists, it’s much easier on your wallet to stick with acrylic paints. As a bonus, you can use acrylic paints two ways: right out of the tube like oils, or diluted with water which lets you use them in an entirely different way, almost like watercolors.

Would You Do Better with Acrylic Paint?

If you’re concerned about toxicity of the paint, whether around children or pets (or yourself), acrylics might be the choice for you. An acrylic starter set will cost less than $20 for 12 colors, and brushes are inexpensive as well. You can use synthetic hair brushes and the cleanup is free if you’ve got running water.

As you can see, acrylics ARE cheaper. If money is the bottom line, you’ll save a lot by avoiding high end oils. I have been painting with acrylics for over a decade and they are still my favorite kind of paint.

The colors are fun, vibrant and not too expensive. All of my paintings are still in excellent condition, reassuring me the paint is great quality. I would start out with an acrylic paint set if you are a beginner, and if you don’t like them you can always switch to oils.

Always remember to have fun with your projects, and don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page for all you acrylic painting needs. happy Painting!

Acrylic Art World

Annick's passion has been painting with acrylics since her youth. She has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects, from simple acrylic painting to advanced techniques like acrylic pouring.

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