Oil Over Acrylic Painting Process

Why paint oil over acrylic?

Painting oil over acrylic is a fun technique that gives you the best of both mediums. Painting an underpainting with acrylic paints allows you to jump right in to the painting process and you can add as much detail as you want without waiting for the paint to dry between layers. And when you have painted enough detail with acrylic paint, you can move on to oil paints. I use this painting method very often.

I find that no medium can match the glow and creamy texture of oil paints, so I always want to paint oil over the acrylic painting. If you are new to oil paints, this technique is also a great way to get familiar with the medium.

Here are some process photos of a recent bird painting. I've explained what I've done in each stage of the painting. You can find affiliate links to the art supplies I used down below. I hope you'll find this helpful!

I'm painting on Belgian linen that is primed with three layers of gesso. I started the painting with acrylic paints. I'm painting all the main shapes and colours. I started from the background and added the silhouettes of the birds after that. This is the up side of using acrylics, you can paint the main shapes and colours of the painting quite fast without worrying about letting it dry in between layers.

I'm painting on Belgian linen that is primed with three layers of gesso. I started the painting with acrylic paints. I'm painting all the main shapes and colours. I started from the background and added the silhouettes of the birds after that. This is the up side of using acrylics, you can paint the main shapes and colours of the painting quite fast without worrying about letting it dry in between layers.

Now that I have all the main elements in place, I start painting the birds in detail. I'm still using acrylic paints and only using grey and white. I want to work in all the shadows and highlights of the birds before I start adding colour layers.

Now that I have all the main elements in place, I start painting the birds in detail. I'm still using acrylic paints and only using grey and white. I want to work in all the shadows and highlights of the birds before I start adding colour layers.

Now I've started adding thin colour layers of acrylic paint. I'm using Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid to make the thin layers of paint. If you use too much water to thin the acrylic paint, it might lift off the canvas and that will be a problem. So the Acrylic Glazing Liquid is perfect for thinning paint and for painting very light glazes. I also added some paper cut outs of leaves that are the white areas you can see in the painting. I will be adding silver leaf on top of these areas at the very last stage of the painting process.

Now I've started adding thin colour layers of acrylic paint. I'm using Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid to make the thin layers of paint. If you use too much water to thin the acrylic paint, it might lift off the canvas and that will be a problem. So the Acrylic Glazing Liquid is perfect for thinning paint and for painting very light glazes. I also added some paper cut outs of leaves that are the white areas you can see in the painting. I will be adding silver leaf on top of these areas at the very last stage of the painting process.

And when I feel like I've added enough layers with acrylic paint, I will paint an oil painting on top of the acrylic. This is my favourite part of the painting process. When you start adding oil paint, the painting sort of 'lights up', and the creamy texture of the oil paints is just so wonderful to work with. I paint at least five to ten layers of oil paint, or until I feel like the painting is starting to look the way I want it to. I use Winsor & Newton Liquin as a painting medium with the oil paints. It helps the painting to dry faster in between layers and it also give the paint a beautiful shiny quality.

And when I feel like I've added enough layers with acrylic paint, I will paint an oil painting on top of the acrylic. This is my favourite part of the painting process. When you start adding oil paint, the painting sort of 'lights up', and the creamy texture of the oil paints is just so wonderful to work with. I paint at least five to ten layers of oil paint, or until I feel like the painting is starting to look the way I want it to. I use Winsor & Newton Liquin as a painting medium with the oil paints. It helps the painting to dry faster in between layers and it also give the paint a beautiful shiny quality.

Thank you for reading!
-Eeva