Which Medium is Better for Beginners

Which Medium is Better for Beginners

In painting, there are two widely compared mediums which are: acrylics and oils. A lot of people who want to venture into the world of painting and creative process wonder the same thing: which medium is better for beginners? During your first few practice sessions, the tools and materials that you use for your art matters not only because it makes the art that you want to create but it also determines your potential. Thus, it also helps you build your preference profile and it simply makes you enjoy art more. 

The truth about being good and skillful about painting is that it requires skill, patience, and hardwork. So at times, you might get a little frustrated due to the process because it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. The process could be difficult as well because we’ll make mistakes from here and there and some mediums are quite hard to tame compared to others. So to enjoy painting more while reducing difficulty and frustration, you need to select a medium that works best for you as a beginner. So in this regard, this common question is raised by many people: which medium is better for beginners? That’s what we’ll cover in this article so keep on reading to find out more.

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How Hard is it to Select a Medium?

For beginners who know little about painting, it is actually quite difficult to select a painting medium that suits your skills and preferences in a short amount of time. The thing is, choosing what’s best for you, not only because your skill is suited for it but also because you like it, takes quite some time. But here’s the fun bit: you can experiment to learn which works for you and which doesn’t. Thus, you can also do your research on different painting mediums so that you can determine their features, the pros and cons about using them. To help you get started, we will be answering the question “which medium is better for beginners?” according to actual facts compiled below.

Now let’s answer the question by having a side to side comparison of the two to see which one is easier to work with, and therefore, beginner-friendly.

Find Out Which Medium is Better for Beginners 


    • FLEXIBLE and NO MIXING REQUIRED: Unlike oils, acrylics are non-toxic and much safer to use. They are fast-drying but when combined with other substances like retarders, pouring mediums, and even cornstarch, the drying time can be manipulated so this medium is very flexible as well. Speaking of flexibility, acrylics are also known to imitate oils and watercolor just by adding substances that you can purchase from the art store (optional). However, it can already be used on its own so it doesn’t require solvents, which means there is no pre-mixing process before you start using it because such can be very difficult for beginners.
    • EASIER CLEAN UP: Since acrylic paint is water soluble, you can pretty much clean up the spills, smudges on the work surface and your body, etc. just by using water and dish soap. Moreover, when cleaning your palettes and brushes, you only have to use the water, dish soap, and rags. No special tools required!
    • SAFER TO USE THAN OILS: Oils can be pretty easy to work with. There are some rules to follow, substances to add, and it can be pretty toxic too knowing that oils have different characteristics than acrylics which you’ll find out later.
    • AFFORDABLE: What more can we say about this? If you’re on a budget and don’t wanna break it, then you should consider this medium.


    • FAST-DRYING: While some people find this to be a good thing, a lot of beginners don’t because that means that they have to work quickly which makes it hard to blend and mix pigments. Unless you add retarders or other additives, the drying time of acrylics won’t be changed.
    • DURABILITY UNKNOWN: We can’t determine the longevity of acrylic paints yet since the use of acrylic paints only began around the 1940s.

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    • LONG LASTING COLORS: Unlike acrylic paints that change the color quality over time, oil paints don’t as they remain true to their colors and no color shifting will happen. The colors are luminous and hard wearing so there’s nothing to worry about.
    • CREATE REALISTIC TRANSITIONS: Another amazing feature with oil paints is that their drying time allows you to work on your creation without getting pressured with time. Though some people find it to be a disadvantage, oils allow you to take time blending your pigments in the palette and the canvas itself. This gives you the opportunity to work on subtle shadings, playing with light over dark, etc.
    • BEAUTIFUL BLENDING: We’ve all seen the paintings from maestros like Da Vinci and Rembrandt and it is truly undeniable that the blendings are very smooth, beautiful, and subtle. It may take time to learn how to blend like that, but just trust the process and the medium that you’re using. 


    • EXPENSIVE: As beautiful as oils may be when it comes to the aesthetic effects, every rose has its thorns too and when it comes to this medium, it’s just expensive. Though you can buy affordable low quality oils, they just don’t perform well compared to high quality ones.
    • REQUIRES A LARGER WORK AREA: Since oils take time to dry, you really need an area where your canvas won’t be disturbed or touched by others if you don’t want it to get ruined. Thus, oils come with odors too so you need to have an area with enough ventilation. 

Final Advice

The thing is, we can’t really dictate to you which medium is better for beginners because it’s all about your preference and skills. However, a little research can enlighten you, so we hope that this side to side comparison between acrylic paints and oil paintings gives you an idea which medium is better for beginners. These pros and cons will give you an idea about what’s likeable and what’s not based on their features so that you can have your own preference. 

The best way to find out is to start experimenting and find it out yourself because experience can tell you which one is the best for you.

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