What Is The Main Advantage Of Using Oil Paint? (2021)

copper pot oil painting at verycreate.com

There are several main advantages to using oil paint over the other paint media options:

  1. The finished product looks lush and distinctive…very ‘oil painting’ look.
  2. The colors remain wet and workable for longer times than other media.
  3. It glides across the surface with a very satisfying feel.
  4. It is versatile with addition of a variety of mediums.  You can add drying agents to speed up dry time or slow drying time, you can add mediums to thin the paints into a glazing application.  
  5. The colors can look especially vibrant
  6. The blendability of oil paints is unmatched.  If you want super blending and very realistic effects, oil can get you there.  

beautiful cliff and beach scene with oil paints at verycreate.com


There are a few things that might tip the scale for you into other mediums.

  1. You must use potentially harmful solvents to thin the paint and clean your brushes.  If you are chemically sensitive or are concerned about toxicity or children having accidental access to your paints, then you need to be extra diligent.  
  2. You need to wait the prescribed time to varnish the final painting. The thicker the application, the longer you need to wait for it to chemically cure.  If you use a think impasto application that could mean up to six months of curing time. Varnish it too early and you end up with an archivist nightmare….(which is another post from a chemical expert.)  If you are planning to sell your art, you may have a long time window before the varnished painting can be shipped off to clients.
  3. You need to keep the painting stored safely from accidental contact while it’s drying.  For many people short of studio space, the only option is to hang it on the wall as it dries.  
  4. Because it is slow drying, you may need to preplan the stages of your painting if you are frugal with your paints.  You can always scrape off a wet layer and start again, but that wastes paint.
  5. Although there are many medium additives available, you really need to read up on them before you use them.   Some of them may result in darkening and yellowing the paints as they age. (Think old, blackened paintings from 100 years ago)  Some mediums will crackle with age. Just because the Old Masters used the medium, doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Modern medium additives are so much more archival and often safer to use. Do your research!
  6. Care must be taken in transporting wet paints if you paint out of doors or travel to and from classes.
  7. You must work ‘fat over lean’ meaning that you start off your first layers of straight from the tube or  thinned paint with turpentine or odorless turpentine or a new product called Gamsol. Then subsequent layers need to have progressively more oil added to them.  The final layers will have the most oil content. This layering of fatty layers over lean layers is necessary to keep the paints from cracking as they dry.
  8. Any dry layers or fine lines you want to add to the finished oil pretty much needs to wait until everything is dry, otherwise you risk damaging the previous layers.  
  9. You’ll need to invest in artist quality paints.  The junk in craft stores may just frustrate the heck out of you as you are trying to learn and the ins and outs of this medium.  ALWAYS start with quality materials. You may not like your first attempts at painting (in any medium) but you will handicap your learning by using poor quality materials.  See a short recommendation at the end of this article.

Here is a section of an oil painting I did of strawberries. The application of the paint is thicker with a one-time stroke laydown (called direct painting) on the berries with expressive brush strokes, but the china plate was very thinned down for a glazed transparent look.  

strawberries on a plate via oil paint at verycreate.com

And here on a my copper bowl

copper pot oil painting at verycreate.com

This is a slower, super blended sea shell using no medium, very tiny brushes and a zillion strokes:  It took over two hours to paint because the method I was using required super blending with a tiny brush.  It about drove me crazy. In contrast, the feather took about 10 mins to finish and was looser style.

zoom up of seashell and copper pot oil painting at verycreate.com

In general, if I want a finished painting to look very realistic and super blended, I’ll use oil paints.  Or if I want to use a thicker application of paint and really focus on brushstrokes.

If I want an Old Master look with lush color, I’ll use oil.  I can still get that with acrylics, but it’s more work and requires patience to get a smooth blend.  

If I’m short of time, I’ll change my painting approach to ‘direct’ application in oils with one stroke layers.  

Here is my recommendation for a starter set of oil paints:

Gamblin Artist Oil Colors Introductory Set,Multi,37 ml

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

These brushes will be fine for blended applications:

Paint Brushes Set 12 Pieces, heartybay Professional Fine Tip Paint Brush Set Round Pointed Tip Nylon Hair artist acrylic paints brush for Watercolor Oil Painting

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

These brushes will work great for thicker brush stroke applications:

Oil Acrylic Paint Brushes Set. 100% Natural Chungking Hog Hair Bristle 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Youtube video demonstrations of oil applications:



I hope you are enjoying this article! I really care a lot that you find what you are looking for. There are so many ways to go about creating and my goal is to help you. Thank you again for reading!

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