Can You Mix Acrylic And Oil Paint? You Should Know

As an artist, you don’t necessarily have to paint with one type of color. It could be a mixture of latex and acrylic paint or a mixture of acrylic and oil paint.

Generally, it is perfectly fine to mix different types of water-based colors like tempera, acrylic paints, watercolors, or gouache colors. However, it is often seen that oil and water-based colors cannot mix easily with different types of traditional painting techniques.

Therefore, mixing oil paint and acrylic paint could be a big experiment. This is especially true if you are preparing a mixed-media or abstract art concoction.

Typically, it isn’t recommended that you mix acrylic paint and oil paint together. You can surely paint with oil colors over acrylic. However, painting with acrylic paint on oil paint won’t actually work.

Mix Acrylic And Oil Paint


Acrylic paint is water-based & oil paint is oil-based. This means they have different types of compounds with varying applications and needs with regard to setting and drying time. When you mix oil and acrylic paint together, it might not blend properly together.

Doing this can cause your canvas painting to break down and the painting’s quality to erode with time which won’t fit great for your artistic escapades.

Personally, it isn’t recommended that you mix oil paint and acrylic paint simply because both of them are very different from one another. You surely wouldn’t want your painting to be ruined.

These paint variants are very different from each other in terms of color, texture, and so on that it could make significant modifications to the masterpiece. Simply put, it isn’t worth all that hard work when working with traditional oil paints.

Yet, if you still want to mix acrylic paint with oil paint, let us get to the basics and understand more about the methods.

Properties of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint features a water-based composition with minute particles comprised of acrylic resins that are suspended in water along with pigments.

Once the water starts evaporating, the acrylic resin particles start fusing together to form a strong bond leaving you with durable paint. This is true for both student-grade acrylics as well as artist-grade ones.

Here are some properties of acrylic paint:

  • Basic acrylic colors are water-soluble when wet
  • They become water-insoluble, permanent, and flexible after they dry out. The built-up surfaces remain free from any types of chips and cracks.
  • The color tends to air-dry post evaporation. Thin films of acrylic paint dry out in 10 to 20 minutes which the thick films of acrylic paint can take anywhere between 1 hour to 3 days to dry out completely.
  • Acrylics are easier in terms of blending techniques while giving you smooth transitions
  • Acrylic painting is easy to clean with some soap & water mixture.
  • Cleaning up brushes for acrylic paint can be easier if you keep them wet.
  • It releases zero fumes or odors and is non-flammable in nature.

Properties of Oil Paint

As is obvious by the name, oil paint comes with an oil base along with several chemicals that help add flexibility and depth to the color pigments.

Here are some properties of oil paint:

  • Oil paint is slow drying and helps artists work longer as compared to acrylics
  • They also have a greater color richness with a range of shades and tonal transitions
  • Colors don’t fade out after drying
  • They can produce both transparent and opaque effects along with matte & gloss finishes
  • It tends to release some toxins depending on the brand you acquire the colors from
  • It doesn’t crack or peel as it dries off
  • Oil brushes cannot be used to paint acrylics

Can You Mix Acrylic And Oil Paint Together?

How to Mix Paint

Generally, it isn’t advised that you mix acrylic paint and oil paint together in a palette and apply them on the canvas. As explained earlier, acrylics have a water base, and oil paint has an oil base. So, you shouldn’t necessarily mix them up. Rather, you can paint a layer of oil paint on acrylics.

You cannot paint acrylic over oil paint. It is better to paint oils over acrylic colors. For example, one can Gesso the canvas & then apply a few paint layers with acrylic. After the acrylic has completely dried off, you can easily paint on top of it with the help of oil paint.

Several artists love this painting technique as it allows the users to work with different color personalities in one painting itself.

However, you shouldn’t paint the base layer with oil paint and then paint on top using acrylics. It is because the acrylics don’t stick to oil paint’s surface and start to flake off. The problem can happen particularly quickly as the acrylic starts to dry.

However, it can also take weeks for the same in the drying process. So, the acrylic would definitely start to flake off before the oil paint starts to dry up.

In simple words, you can paint with acrylic and oil paint during painting. Make sure that you use oil paint on top of acrylics as opposed to acrylics on top of the oil. Definitely don’t mix them up in the palette. If you do, let us check out what can happen in the next section.

What Happens When You Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint?

If you are wondering what happens when you mix oil with acrylics, let us check it out. Mixing oil paint with acrylics is like mixing water with oil. It simply won’t mix along. When you mix these two mediums, the oil present in the oil paint starts separating from acrylics as oil is lighter than water.

Moreover, oil tends to be a hydrophobic paint medium. So, it simply won’t dissolve in water-based paints. The molecules in water tend to bind only with other types of water molecules with a similar type of density. They won’t mix up with the oil’s hydrophobic molecules.

Plus, the oil present in oil paint would dry up slower as compared to acrylic paint. Artists such as Christel Minotti from Finland tend to mix up different types of paint media to create some amazing pieces. He also creates some unique designs with a mixture of regular oil and acrylic paints.

However, if you aren’t an expert in the subject, it is recommended that you don’t mix acrylic with oil paint. As an artist, it would require you a lot of precision and detail to achieve perfection with a mixed media of this kind with portrait painting. You can try and experiment by creating a mixture of these mediums in case you love to prepare mixed-media art or abstract paintings.

Easy Wats to Mix Acrylic and Oil Paint

In case you really want to mix oil paint with acrylics, there are ways to do it right. Let us check out the ways to do that:

Use Oil Paints that are Water-Soluble:

Water and oil-based colors aren’t typically mixed. It is because the water separates from the oil. But, if the prime components within oil paints can be chemically modified, artists can successfully create oil paints that can be mixed with water.

In simple words, you can easily mix an acrylic color with oil-based paints. These modified paints don’t need turpentine or any other solvents known to be toxic. Artists can use water as paint thinners to modify the oil paints.

Create Your Very Own Soluble Oil Paint:

While you can purchase some modified oil paint to be mixed with acrylic paint, you can also create one on your own. The key is to use acrylic mediums or thinners such as turpentine to modify the oil paint and make it acrylic soluble. Start by mixing a small bit of turpentine or thinner with your oil paint.

Now add some acrylic paint to it. If it mixes up well, you are good to go. If not, add some more thinner to the mixture until a homogenous mixture is obtained.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you paint with oils over acrylic?

If you plan on painting with one on top of another, it is perfectly fine to do that. However, the layering process should only be with oils over acrylics and not the other way.

Moreover, the two should never be mixed on the palette as they won’t ever mix up completely. Painting with oil in the base would cause the acrylics on top to dry out quickly, leading to flaking issues as the oil layer underneath doesn’t dry at the same speed. You can surely avoid this by using some acrylic gel.

Q: Can you mix Gesso with oil paint?

No, you cannot mix Gesso with oil paint. Rather, you can make use of Gesso painted on as a base on the canvas. Start by painting a thin layer of Gesso on the canvas and allow it to dry out completely. This will allow the oil paint to work well with the canvas and spruce up the colors the right way.

Q: Is it harder to paint with oil or acrylic?

If you are wondering if it is harder to paint with acrylic or oil colors, the former is difficult to work with. It is simply because oil paints have slower drying times as compared to acrylics. It gives the painters less time to work with the colors and achieve the desired effect.

Q: How do I turn acrylic paint into oil paint?

The easiest and proven way to turn acrylic paint into oil paint is by adding some water-mixable oil gel such as linseed oil. This particular medium is crafted for paints that have a water base.

Doing this will help you create slow-drying acrylic that doesn’t have quick drying times.

Final Words

With these pointers in mind, you can enjoy the features of acrylic and oil paints on the very same canvas. With acrylics, you get a durable paint medium that is water-soluble and can be modified as per your needs.

On the other hand, with oil paints, you can get some amazingly vibrant colors that can pop up your paintings on the canvas in the right way.

Remember: Not paint oil over acrylics and only go with acrylics on oil paint. This will get you your desired effect when painting. Finally, you can also turn your acrylic paint into oil paint if there is a need for the same!

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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