PROCESS: From Acrylic to Oil Paints


I paint with oils in our business but in my own artwork have used acrylics or gouache.  Painting in our business is very different; I am working precisely toward an image that is not mine, shown right, in a restorative or reproduction piece.

When I am creating artwork, I am moving to where ever my inner vision takes me, free form.

I am used to acrylic paint.  I am used to paint that dries fast and allows me to build washes quickly, creating depth.  Thin coats, glazes, many applied in a day.  Layering for effects.  While still in that painting frenzy, I can use soft charcoal pencils right after painting!

As I try my hand at oils it feels like I am moving through mud.  What my eye wants and what the oils do seem to be two different things.  I like that I can blend — which is not easy with acrylics, which dry too fast to blend.  I know, there are retarders, but frankly, I have had failures with acrylic retarders and so, zen fashion, I work with what-is-so, and acrylics dry fast.  I work with their nature.

Oils dry relatively slow, even Gamblin’s Fastmatte oils.  Sigh.  I must work with oil paint’s nature also if I want to work with oils.


Patience is not my strength.  Oils appear to take patience.  Waiting, waiting, while this dries so that this can be added.  What am I not getting?  I feel a bit like a beginner again, seeing what I want to do in my mind’s eye, and falling short when I put brush to paper.  With acrylics I can add and paint over right away, change what I don’t like.  I began with two crow sketches, experiments with the oils, above.

I learned more as I tried to work pencil into the painting after the oils dried.  I am not happy with my pencil addition because I had to work it too much; the pencil wasn’t attaching to the oil paint and so I “worked” it, and that usually results in less spontaneity.  Oils don’t seem to have much tooth, and I don’t know how to change that yet, as I do with acrylics.

I like adding soft charcoal or graphite pencil to my paintings and often do; sometimes I like to work colored pencils as well.


Above is my first finished attempt at an oil painting.  Mitchell likes it, which is nice.  I do not, yet.  Not finished, drying drying.  Patience!


My second crow is also so-so, and again, Mitchell likes him.  I think we are going to need a bigger refrigerator for my crow oils!  I will want to come back and add pencil to this one as well, possibly.

That’s all for now — back to the “real” work conserving a tapestry. . . .


I am now agreeing to the  Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License, which you can learn more about by visiting the site, or, visit my web page for a more user-friendly summary on my terms.  My images/blog posts can be reposted; please link back to dkatiepowellart.
A version of this was originally published in my blog zenkatwrites.

About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in art, creativity, oil paint, process and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

I love hearing from visitors!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.