Can You Mix Oil And Acrylic Paint? All You Need To Know

Mixing different paints is an interesting way to get new effects and dig a new path in the world of art. Beginners usually wish to combine the features of water-based and oil-based colours. So let’s explore the query, “Can you mix oil and acrylic paint?”

Yes, you can mix oil paint and acrylic paint, but it’s important to consider that oil and acrylic are two different types of paint and have different properties, drying times, applications, and techniques. Blending them can produce unique results and effects, but it’s also crucial to figure out the limitations and challenges that may arise.

I usually don’t recommend mixing these two paints directly on the palette or canvas, as the oil paint can cause the acrylic paint to soften and become difficult to work with. Instead, I suggest an effective way to mix both and get desired results.  

So read the blog post to learn more about mixing oil and acrylic paint. 

Painting With Acrylic Vs Oil Paint

Acrylic and oil paints are two different classifications of paints with distinct properties and applications.

Acrylic paints are water-based, fast-drying, and comfortable to clean. They have a matte finish and can be easily thinned with water or acrylic mediums. 

Acrylics are versatile and can be used for a broad range of painting styles, from photorealistic to abstract. They are also non-toxic, making them a popular choice for learners and artists who paint at home around their children and pets.

Oil paints, on the other hand, are made from pigments suspended in a medium of drying oil, generally linseed oil. They are slow-drying and tend to have a more luminous and intense color than acrylics. 

Oils can be blended together to create an endless range of colors and effects, and they are often used for traditional painting techniques, such as layering and glazing. Oil paints are more durable and longer-lasting than acrylics and have a distinctive texture and richness.

In short, both acrylic and oil paints have their own strengths and weaknesses, and when it comes to painting with acrylics vs oils the choice will depend on the desired outcome, personal preference, and project requirements.

How To Mix Oil And Acrylic Paint? 

There are two ways to mix or blend both paints. 

  1. One way is applying oil-based paint over a surface that is painted with acrylic paint. In simple words, it is a process where acrylic is used as an undercoat for oil painting.
  1. Another way is mixing both the paint on a palette or mixing tray. In that case, you may not be able to get the required results. 

Painting Oil Based Paint Over Acrylic Undercoat

Acrylic underpainting for oil is the best way to combine water-based colors and oil-based products. In this way, you can bring together the amazing features of both paints and create distinctive artwork.   

Here is a detailed procedure on how to blend acrylic paint and oil paint. 

Supplies Required

  • Acrylic paint 
  • Oil Paint 
  • Fine grit Sandpaper 
  • Acrylic Primer
  • Canvas
  • Towel
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Preparation

Clean the surface thoroughly to remove any dust, grease, or debris. Now, sand the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth surface. Wipe the surface down with a clean, dry cloth to remove any sanding dust.

Step 2: Priming The Surface

Apply a thin layer of water-based primer to the surface using a brush or roller. Wait for the primer to dry completely, normally for about 12 hours. Now apply the acrylic paint of your choice over the primed surface and let it wholly dry too. 

Step 3: Sand Your Surface

Lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface for the oil paint. Again, wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth to remove sanding dust.

Step 4: Apply Oil Paint

Stir the oil paint thoroughly before using it. Now, apply the oil paint to the surface using a paintbrush or roller, working in thin, even layers. Wait for each layer to dry completely before applying the next one. Naturally, oil paint dries in 24 to 48 hours.

TIP: Sand lightly between each layer; remove any brush strokes, lumps, or bumps if desired. You can learn more about fixing lumpy acrylic paint.

Step 5: Finishing

I suggest you use a final layer of sealer to conserve your art for longer. For this purpose, apply a clear varnish or polyurethane topcoat to protect the paint and enhance its durability.

Precautions: Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each product used, including drying times and recommended number of coats. It’s also a good idea to use a well-ventilated workspace and wear protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, to avoid inhaling fumes.

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint With Oil Paint Directly?

I will not advise you to apply this method because acrylic and oil paints are not mixable as they are made from different polymers and solvents and have different drying times. 

So if you attempt to mix the two, it can result in a compromised and unstable paint film. It’s best to use each type of paint on its own or consider using an oil paint medium specifically designed for use with oil paints to modify their consistency and finish.

What Happens If You Mix Acrylic Paint With Oil Paint? 

Mixing acrylic paint with oil paint is not recommended as they are not compatible, and the resulting mixture may not dry properly or may crack over time. Acrylic paint dries quickly and has a water-based formula, while oil paint dries slowly and has a solvent-based formula. 

The different chemical compositions of the two types of paint make them inconsistent, so combining them can result in a weak bond and an unstable paint film, which can peel or chip earlier.

How To Make Acrylic Painting Look Like Oils

Remember that acrylics will never have the exact appearance of oils, but you can attain a similar effect with these techniques.

You can adopt the following tips to make acrylic paint resemble oil paint.

  • Use a slow-drying acrylic medium to extend the drying time. It allows you to blend the paint more easily and manipulate it to mimic the characteristics of oils.
  • Apply thick, impasto brushstrokes to create a comparable texture to oil paint, as acrylics tend to dry with a flat surface.
  • You may also use a palette knife to create visible brush strokes and palette marks, similar to oil paintings.
  • Try colour glazing techniques to build up depth and luminosity, which is a hallmark of oil paintings.
  • To mimic the luminous quality of oils, consider adding a small amount of white to the colours you are using.

Can You Use Linseed Oil With Acrylic Paint?

I don’t recommend you mix acrylic and linseed oil as they are not compatible and will not bond together. 

Acrylic is a type of water-based, synthetic polymer paint, while linseed oil is a natural oil derived from flax seeds, often used as a medium in oil painting. 

Hence, mixing the two will result in a separation of the substances rather than a uniform mixture.

Why Can’t You Paint Acrylic Over Oil?

Acrylic paint and oil paint have different features, and these dissimilarities can affect the outcome when painting one over the other. There are the following reasons and drawbacks why you must not paint acrylic over oil paint.

Oil paint is slow-drying and has a more adaptable and adhesive quality, which can make it difficult for acrylic paint to adhere properly to the surface. 

Acrylic paint, on the other hand, dries quickly and develops a plastic-like surface that can be brittle and prone to cracking. 

When you paint acrylic over oil paint, the oil paint’s flexibility can cause the acrylic paint to crack as the surface underneath moves and expands.

Additionally, oil paint is porous, meaning it can absorb the solvents in the acrylic paint, causing the acrylic paint to lose adhesion and become brittle. Over time, this can lead to the acrylic paint flaking or peeling away from the surface.

So it’s suggested to prime the surface before painting with acrylic paint, either with an oil-based primer or a particular primer designed for use over oil paint. This will help to ensure proper bonding and prevent cracking.

Is It Ok To Mix Baby Oil With Acrylic Paint?

I’ll never suggest mixing baby oil with acrylic paint as both have different chemical compositions and properties and mixing them can result in a substance that is incompatible and does not stick well to surfaces. 

Additionally, baby oil is not a suitable medium for use with acrylic paint as it may lead to thinning of paint and change its consistency, affecting its ability to provide expected results and dry properly. 

So, if you want to modify the consistency of acrylic paint, it is best to use a medium specifically designed for use with acrylics, such as water or a specialised acrylic medium.

Can You Mix Water With Acrylic Paint?

Yes, you can mix water with acrylic paint but make sure you don’t exceed adding more than 30% of water to the paint. 

Water can be used to dilute and thin down the paint for various objectives. Moreover, it can be utilised for blending the paint over the canvas.

However, diluting acrylic with more than 1/3 part can ruin the quality and effects the adhesive abilities of the paint. 

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint With Oil For Airbrush?

Mixing acrylic paint for airbrushing requires a good understanding of the consistency. If you want the paint to dry quickly, you can’t expect oils to work for it.


How do you blend acrylic paint with oil paint?

Blending acrylic paint with oil is only possible when all the water content of acrylic is evaporated or if you use a specific mixing medium to combine the two. 

Are oil and acrylic easier to mix?

No, oil and acrylic paints are not easier to mix. Both are unlike in their features, ingredients, and, specifically, solvent. One is oil-based, and the other is water-based, which is the biggest hurdle in merging them.  

How to tell the difference between acrylic and oil based painting? 

There are several ways to differentiate acrylic painting from oil painting. You can analyse the dry time, viscosity, transparency, smell, and brushstrokes to confirm. 

Final Thoughts

So, can you mix oil and acrylic paint? Yes, they can be mixed, and the possibilities are explained in the post. It is important to experiment with small amounts of paint first and to understand how the paint will react when combined. However,  this can vary depending on the specific brands and types of paint used. 

Ultimately, the ability to mix oil and acrylic paints provides artists with a range of creative opportunities and the chance to produce unique and personalised works of art.

Thank You!

Jose Scott

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