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  • Writer's pictureRakesh Budarapu

Beginners’ Guide to Painting - Lesson 01: Pick Your Painting Medium (Acrylics or Oil or Watercolors

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

It is important to decide on a painting medium before you start to paint. This will allow you to really get a feel of how the medium works. You can then pay more attention to the bigger aspects of painting, like color, composition, value, to name a few.

The major choices are oils, acrylics, and watercolors. Some other options are gouache and water-mixable oils, but I will not recommend these in this lesson.

In this lesson, I will discuss some pros and cons of each medium.

Acrylics colors - The Beginner’s Choice

Acrylics are widely favored by those just starting out with painting, as they are easy to use and do not require any special supplies. The best advantage is that it dries really fast.

This is a good option if:

  • you are a beginner.

  • you do not want to worry about the challenges and difficulties of oil and watercolor painting.

  • you want an easy cleanup time.

  • you are painting on a limited budget.

  • you enjoy experimenting by mixing colors.

One of the advantages also appears to be a disadvantage, which is, the paint dries too fast. This means you only have a limited amount of time whilst your paint is responsive to the canvas. Some colors also darken as they dry.

Acrylics were great for developing an understanding of painting. I personally started with acrylics many years ago and moved to oils after gaining confidence.

Oils - The Expert's Choice

Compared to acrylic paintings, Oil paintings seem to be held with higher regard. All-time great-artists prefer Oils as a medium for their painting, and for several reasons.

Many people worry about the drying time, but that can be controlled by adjusting the consistency of your paint using paint thinners and additional oil. This allows you to work with a wide range of painting methods, including blending, glazing, and scumbling, making it versatile. Many people do not like the harsh solvents used in oil painting, like turpentine. But you still have the other odorless alternative for solvents.

If you think oil painting is too difficult for you, I recommend you to reconsider it before disregarding it completely. There are only a few rules which you need to understand, and the rest is similar to acrylic painting.

Watercolors - The Master’s Choice

Watercolors are the most difficult to master due to the very challenging nature of water. Additionally, options of re-working on errors are limited. However, if mastered, watercolors can produce stunningly elegant paintings.

I recommend beginners to start with either acrylics or oils before venturing into watercolors. Watercolors are a fantastic complement to your acrylic or oil painting.

To conclude, I would ask you to try all the mediums before deciding on which is the most comfortable medium for your creativity to flow.


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