Paint Brush Up: A Guide to Different Mediums

Between Monets and Manets or Oldenburgs and Rauschenbergs, talking about art is not always easy! When it comes to paintings, even the mediums are tricky. From oils and acrylics to watercolors, the different types of paint can start to blend together.

Here are some quick tips to help you brush up on your paints.  


JJ Galloway uses acrylic paint in Neapolitan Slice

The differences in the paints arise simply from what each pigment is made of. Acrylic paints and watercolors are water-based, while oil paint is oil-based. The physical properties of these bases create differences in how an artist works with the paint and how they appear on the canvas.

The different types of paint each have specific drying times. Water dries significantly faster than oil, so an artist using acrylics or watercolors must work quickly to paint his or her scene. Acrylics dry within an hour, and watercolors dry even faster. On the other hand, oil paints remain fluid longer, so oil painters can more easily blend different colors together on the surface of the painting.  


JJ Galloway uses oil paint in Daisy Cake

The thickness of the paint is a telltale sign of the type of paint used in a painting. An oil paint is often lighter than an acrylic paint and can give off a more luminous look. Acrylics are heavier and great for creating clean, distinct lines. Oil and acrylics can be layered on top of each other to create an impasto look.

Watercolor is the lightest of them all and hand binds flatly to the surface. The pigment is suspended in water so it stains the canvas with a more transparent color.  


JJ Galloway uses watercolor in Caramel Cupcake

Some artists have a distinct preference for one medium, while others, like JJ, can shift between the three like a piece of cake!

What’s your favorite?