Which is easier to learn, Watercolor or Oil painting?

What are the pros and cons, ups and downs, any interesting features, any particular appeals, I need your opinions, what makes which preferable and why? Thanks!

16 Answers

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  • Loki
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Watercolour is more convenient to set up, handle and clean up, since it involves the use of only the paints and water. The "ground" is just paper - either cartridge paper or watercolour paper.

    Oil painting requires usually a canvas, which you can buy cheaply already stretched onto frame, or masonite (primed). You can also get canvas paper - canvas glued to thick backing paper. For practixe, you can even use thick "craft paper" if you prime the surface (acrylic house paint).

    Materials for oil painting include turps (cleanup) and medium (mixed with paint). The cleanup is probably the most inconvenient part.

    Watercolours are quicker drying. But slower-drying is an advantage if you want to work longer onthe painting. Oil paintings can take months to dry depending on how much varnish is mixed with them.

    No medium is easier to learn in the sense of actual painting. It is just that oil painting methods tend to be more elaborate and careful.

    Watercolour is in a way more difficult, since with "wet-in-wet" you are often applying them with large amounts of water onto porous paper..They are hard to control when working this way.

    Oil painting allows repeated corrections or repainting over time. Watercolour is more immediate, although you can remove it with a sponge and repaint.

    But the difficulty of drawing and painting is not to do with the materials or media. Drawing and painting are skills and creative efforts independent of medium. Drawing on butchers paper with a graphite pencil is difficult to learn well, even though it is the most immediate and convenient possible method of drawing.

    When yo are spending hours at a time practicing drawing or painting, the medium is not the major factor in difficulty or ease.

    Don't necessarily agree with Projectile - oils are more luminous than acrylic, but watercolours are also very vibrant. It's acrylic which tends to be flatter and duller, though it can be used to good effect. It may be a good medium to practice with , but will not entirely translate to oil painting when you wish to use oils.

    With watercolour, using watercolour paper (arches) you should tape it around the edges to a beard (need special tape for this) so that it doesn't distort when wet.

    You don't need expensive brushees to learn/practice with oils - though some sayit is good to use them, even for practice. Don't use 'supermarket" paints. Student grade are good enough. Many artists use them for professional work. The "artist" quality paints are expensive - real artists paint a lot and so often they cannot justify the expense. Dont' go crazy with quality of materials and equipment - you will impoverish yourself.

    The expense can hinder your work, since you are afraid to waste expensive materials. The real concern should be your actual artistic ability, not so much the technical quality of your paintings. That is the hardest thing to learn, and it will take a lot of work.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is your choice. Oil painting is easier primarily because paint can be scraped away and repainted, objects can be added over previous paint. Mistakes can be readily fixed. Same to a lesser extent with acrylics, but very difficult to do with watercolors. Watercolors are cleaner to work with because of no fumes, messy mediums, just plain water is all you need. With oils, you need stretched canvas to paint on, not paper like watercolors.

    Watercolors are less expensive in the long run because even though the cost of high quality brushes, paper, and paints may seem like a lot, they last a long time. You can not buy good quality watercolor supplies, even acceptable ones, except for children at the supermarket or Walmart.

    Bad paintings can be done in any media but I see a lot more dull, muddy oil paintings than watercolors. Done right, nothing can beat the freshness and brilliance of a watercolor painting done by a skillful artist.

    Source(s): artist
  • 4 years ago

    Oil. Watercolor is more difficult. Both due to having to leave whites for later. And to the speed at which you must paint. Whoever said watercolor paints are cheap is just wrong. If you buy student grade non toxic prang water colors it's cheap. But if you buy Winsor Newton artists paints it's just as expensive as oil. I paid 100 bucks for 12 dime sized pans of dry watercolor about a centimeter deep. I prefer the dry pans of watercolor because it's better for traveling. Watercolor is also available in tubes.

    • graigsmith4 years agoReport

      Oh yeah. Watercolor artists often need the most expensive brushes. You can easily use cheaper brushes on oil. Because oil paint will stick in any brush. Watercolor Being water will run right out of the same brush. A good water color brush will retain water due to it's finer hairs.

  • Mary
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    You will be greatly surprised as watercolors are not that easy to do. There are several different things to learn about watercolors --how to get different textures, how to paint water, sky, people, etc. It can really get complicated. If I were you, I would begin with acrylics. It's really easy to paint in them. Do your sketch or drawing, paint in the colors you see and where they go, add the shadows or dark areas by adding a littlle black to your colors,and then do the light areas by adding white to your colors where there are light places. Then when the paint is completely dry, using white, add your highlights or the lightest part of a picture. There are only a few places that are white. Then let your paint dry. you can seal it with a sealer like clear acrylic sealer. This will makethe paint permanent and bring out the "brightness" of your colors. It can be purchased at the same place as your acrylic paint or wal-mart in the craft section.This sealer will seal anything---pencil, chalk or oil pastels, marker, charcoal, ink, watercolor, oil, or acrylic paint or over other varnishes.

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  • Beth
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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    the only thing that will be the same is your drawing skills and eye for color mixing. the techniques are different and all the paints handle differently. the closes two would be watercolor and acrylics but there will be differences between them as well. there are advantages and disadvantages to all types of paint and you just have to figure out what type of paint you like. watercolors are usually considered the hardest but some people find them easier to work with. the reason why they are considered the hardest is because it is difficult to correct any mistakes you make. but like drawing with a pen this isn't necessarily a bad thing, its just a mindset difference.

  • Edgar
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    easier learn watercolor oil painting

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Why don't you consider learning to paint with acrylics? You can get all the effects of oils by using acrylics, plus more. You can also get watercolour like washes. You can paint in layers and paint over things, which you can't do with oils or watercolours. You can mix acrylics with different mediums to change the drying time, consistency, thickness and gloss. You can paint very thick and textured or very thin and smooth. Once dry, acrylics are like a plastic that won't smudge or be dissolved by water. It is easy to clean acrylic paintings and very difficult to damage them.

  • 1 decade ago

    If you are a blender who likes to work with paint that does not dry quickly then oil is a good choice.

    If you prefer to work with paint that drys quickly (which is a disadvantage for blending but great for being able to access your work without smudging it) then consider water or acrylic.

    Some people are allergic to fumes from wet oil paint, and it smells bad. It takes months to dry. Oil is harder to clean up. Finished work may sell for a higher price than acrylic or water though.

    I think the easiest to learn on is acrylic, but that will depend on your personal technique. Figure out what finished product you like most and, allergies permitting, learn that...

  • Isabel
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Oil is easier to learn, watercolor is easier to use.

    Both painting styles work in layers - with oils the layers are generally more opaque or translucent and you work from dark to light. Meaning you build the modeling of objects and figures by first painting shapes then adding layers of lighter colors. In watercolor the layers are generally translucent or transparent and the layers show through each other.

    In oils you have a great deal of flexibility in creating your works because the medium taking so long to dry, you can correct any mistakes or make changes if you don't like the results. In watercolor, since it is a 'transparent' medium, any mistakes you make are visible and cannot generally be corrected, and changes you wish to make generally cannot be done as they would be visible.

    Oils spread easily and you can control the movement of the paint with palette knife or paintbrush. Watercolors spread of their own will and accord - water finds it's own path and has a mind of it's own - so you have much less control over the medium.

    Most artists studying formal painting start with oils. You have to change your thinking completely when moving from oil to watercolor and vice versa because the techniques are so different. Acrylics offer a nice balance to both giving you options that are from both families - they are water-based making it much easier to use, and they dry fast making corrections easier to make. Acrylic colors are a little bolder and have a 'plastic' look to them as opposed to 'natural' looking but you can learn to use them to the advantage.

    The difficulties with oil are the odors which some people find health issues with as they are not safe to use without proper ventilation, they are considered toxic; and the drying time for oils since in effect oil never truly completely dries - depending on the thickness of the paint you may have drying times up to six months or longer. And cleanup is much more work since you have to use turpentine/turpenoid solvents and it's quite messy and tedious.

    The difficulties with watercolor are minimal, cleanup is easy as you just need water, drying times are generally fast depending on the climate you live in - dry climates can be too fast and you may need to moisturize the air to keep paints moist and workable, moist climates will keep the paints workable but could keep paints moist for a bit too long (but I like it, it makes the medium more flexible); the biggest difficulty with watercolor is learning how to control this medium, learning how to layer colors for effect and thinking backwards. the backwards thinking from light to dark is because you don't add lighter colors to model things, you add darker colors.

    Whichever medium you learn first, you will find a bit of difficulty translating what you learn to the other medium since they both work differently. There have been a number of artists who have worked with both mediums so you might want to look at their works for differences - Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper are three names that come to mind immediately.

  • 1 decade ago

    i first learned portrait painting with oil...it is, of course, beautiful, and for me it was easier to correct any mistakes....but i have always loved the look of watercolor portraits....my solution was to use a combination of watercolor, transparent and opaque, and lately, fluid acrylics....the last painting i did turned out nicely and the fluid acrylics seemed to make the difference..

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