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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
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    Western NY
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    Default Watercolours or oils?

    I've been dabbling in art lately. A couple months ago I branched out from graphite into pastels, and really like it. I want to try actual painting as well, though, and am debating whether to start off with watercolour/gouache or oils. (I hate acrylic.)

    I did a couple years of the advanced art track in high school, but quit because I didn't want to do the last class in the series (design, bah). So I've been pretty much self-taught--read books, trial and error, etc. My dad was an artist who worked mostly in oil; he passed away, and I'd really like to try oil myself now and have any of his things that were salvageable (turpentine, canvases, a few brushes, some paints, etc.). But I also feel that maybe I should try watercolour and/or gouache first, since that seems easier to start with as far as drying time, materials, etc. go.

    Any suggestions? I would eventually probably try both, because I would really have to experiment to know what I prefer, but I feel more drawn to oils.

    Also, in either case, would taking a class make much of a difference to get started, or am I probably going to be okay stumbling along on my own? There are some classes in the area with good artists, but they're a bit pricey, and I'm unemployed and spending money already on materials. I also like to be able to work in my own studio at home and would hate to wait a week between opportunities to work on a painting in progress, but am not sure how easy it would be to bring everything home and back to class every week.
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
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    In Trouble with Dad...
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    29,915

    Default

    If you are impatient, go water color.

    If you like the feel of rich color on your brush, go oil.

    I am a self taught dilettante with both mediums. I don't think you have to wait a week before continuing on oils, but it does help to cover the work up as it dries ( learned the hard way....)

    Oils you can paint over 'mistakes', water colors is pretty much it, done and done.
    canvases are pricy, but the canvas boards and oil pads are affordable.

    All I can say is jump in it, either or both. I am sure youtube has some lessons that you could watch, although it does not replace the real life feedback.

    (I just helped my friend with her girl scout troop, working on their art project)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2002
    Posts
    3,660

    Default

    I think it's always good to take a class or two, to get the basics and useful tip and ask any questions that might arise. With a good teacher, that is.

    That said, I started dabbling in watercolors on my own, with a few good step-by-step books, and I was doing fine, but taking classes definitely helped my technique etc.

    I've never tried oil, but I've seen my dad work with oil, and I think watercolor is a lot harder than oil (Dad agrees, having tried watercolor himself). It's a whole different ball game! If you like control, oil is definitely your choice.

    I like watercolor because it is fleeting, it's quick, it's unpredictable...and I love the transparency of it. No smell, easy to transport, set up anywhere...I love it. Now if only I had more time to really practice it!
    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2003
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,849

    Default

    I took painting classes in college for fun (Biology major). We used oils, so that's what I use. That said watercolor seems much more portable and I'd love to try it.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2010
    Posts
    2,060

    Default

    Watercolors are more forgiving (IMO) but harder to...control (I guess that is the best word for it). It is harder to get detail out of watercolors. Benefits are it's cheaper...you can paint on paper vs. canvas, paint itself is cheaper, brushes last longer, etc. Oil gives beautiful texture and color that you can't achieve with watercolor.

    Taking some classes will only help, you can learn some techniques that make things easier, get some good feedback, etc.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    10,058

    Default

    Hate oils, messy and too slow to dry. HATE watercolors, never rich enough. Get the expensive acrylics and you get the coverage and color of oils with the forgiveness of watercolors. I do a lot of paintings in acrylic on canvas board (another favorite--a little cheaper than canvas but the same texture.)

    Take a class if you want to work with oils--helps with mixing, learning the other chemicals involved, and different brush techniques.

    Speaking of chemicals, with oils and some colors in the better acrylics, remember things with words like "cadmium" in the name are toxic. My mother paints in oil but we kids were not allowed anything other than watercolors and tempera paints until we were old enough she could trust we weren't going to put anything in our mouths.

    I still like the textures I can get with oil, but I can achieve basically the same thing with the pricier acrylics. I can also do things like use metallic glitter watercolors as washes or mix them with the acrylics (created a VERY cool "prairie grass in sun" effect doing that.)



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    10,058

    Default

    Hate oils, messy and too slow to dry. HATE watercolors, never rich enough. Get the expensive acrylics and you get the coverage and color of oils with the forgiveness of watercolors. I do a lot of paintings in acrylic on canvas board (another favorite--a little cheaper than canvas but the same texture.)

    Take a class if you want to work with oils--helps with mixing, learning the other chemicals involved, and different brush techniques.

    Speaking of chemicals, with oils and some colors in the better acrylics, remember things with words like "cadmium" in the name are toxic. My mother paints in oil but we kids were not allowed anything other than watercolors and tempera paints until we were old enough she could trust we weren't going to put anything in our mouths.

    I still like the textures I can get with oil, but I can achieve basically the same thing with the pricier acrylics. I can also do things like use metallic glitter watercolors as washes or mix them with the acrylics (created a VERY cool "prairie grass in sun" effect doing that.)



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2011
    Location
    Dutchess county, NY
    Posts
    864

    Default

    I love water colors. I like to paint a little loose so the medium works well for me. If your preference is more towards photo realism I bet you'd prefer oils.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2013
    Posts
    185

    Default

    I prefer oils myself, because I like the blending and strong colors. Also you can't really cover up mistakes in watercolors. I like being able to go back to an oil painting and reworking things. That said, I do like well-done watercolors, but I can't seem to get it right myself



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
    Location
    Western NY
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    Default

    I do like control and details and being able to revisit/rework--that's why I wasn't crazy about watercolour when I tried it as a teen, but I do admire artists who do photorealism with it, because it does have a beautiful quality with the transparency and I admire how difficult so much detail would be. Maybe I will look into better quality acrylics at some point--I've only used student grade before.

    I was surprised to learn how toxic so much of the materials related to oil painting are; it's probably a miracle I survived to adulthood considering how much time I spend as a child in my dad's studio! I would have to be careful with all that, because I have really dumb cats.
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2002
    Posts
    3,660

    Default

    I just wanted to add...you don't necessarily have to "choose" between media. I have an artist friend who paints with watercolors, charcoal, and pastels, and his artwork is amazing! Lots of texture, depth and contrast with the watercolor's transparency quality.
    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2012
    Location
    gulf coast
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    775

    Default

    Why do you feel you have to choose? Try both. Just get the right supplies for each. Then, while you're waiting for your oil back-ground to dry, paint a water color. Some days mix the media. Have fun.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2011
    Location
    Florida
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    1,300

    Default

    I like oils and acrylics. Not a huge fan of watercolors but hoping to give them another shot soon. I know my paintings stink, but it is quite soothing for me and honestly I'm not doing it to impress anyone.

    I also like pastels and charcoal. I also enjoy sharpies.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.




  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2006
    Location
    Maine
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    631

    Default

    Artist quality acrylics - they can be used like watercolors or oil. Cheap acrylics paint like cheap acrylics - you need to spend a little $$ to get good quality paint. Though in general you need to work quickly with acrylics, mixing in some retarder medium slows things down a great deal. And they're extremely forgiving.

    Personally, I don't do oils because of the chemicals - and the smell. If I had a studio separate from my house I might give them another try. But it's unlikely.

    And agree with those above who said canvas panels - canvases are expensive - and you can get more detail with a panel due to the stiffness. Blick art supply has fantastic prices on panels.



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