The Benefits of Using Oil Paints for Your Next Artwork

An array of oil paintings on the wall

Oil paintings capture sceneries and landscapes unlike any other.

Are you considering oil paints for your next artwork? Then you’re in luck – this blog post is for you.

Oil paints have been around since the 7th Century when artists used extracted oils from poppies and walnuts to paint on caves in Afghanistan. As technology evolved and new formulas were discovered, many famous artists created masterpieces with oil-based paints and colors.

Did you know? As of December 2022, the largest professional oil painting by a single artist was created by Francesco Santoro in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. The painting’s surface area is a whopping 2,033.84 square feet (188.95 square meters)!

As artists of yore reaped the rewards of oil painting, so can you! Let’s dive into the benefits of using oil paints for your next artwork. We will also look at how it compares to other mediums, and how you can take care of your oil brushes and equipment. Let’s go!

The Pros and Cons of Oil Paints

Every art medium has characteristics that make them work well more than others, and oil paints are no exception. 

Artists old and new have favored oil-based paints for the unique qualities they give to artworks on canvas. But like any other medium, there are drawbacks and considerations to working with oil-based paints.

An oil painting of a cliff with two women on a parasol, overlooking an ocean with boats and yachts.

Oil paintings showcase beauty with distinct brush strokes.

Here are several advantages and disadvantages of oil paints:

Advantages of Oil-Based Paints

  1. Richness and Depth: Oil paints produce rich, deep colors, which bring incredible luminosity to artworks. This allows artists to achieve remarkable depth, complexity, and a professional finish in their compositions.
  2. Versatility and Flexibility: Oil paints are slow-drying by nature, and this provides artists with the flexibility to rework their creations over an extended period. Adjustments, corrections, and alterations are possible even long after the initial application. Moreover, oil paints can be used on a wide variety of surfaces – canvas, wood, metal, and even paper!
  3. Durability and Longevity: The robust nature of oil pigments gives them more resistance to cracking compared to other mediums, retaining the artwork’s vibrancy and quality over time.
  4. Impressive Textures: From smooth and glossy finishes to thick impasto textures, artists can experiment and create diverse surface effects. This adds a tactile and visual dimension to their artwork.
  5. Blending and Mixing: The slow drying time of oil paints allows for easier blending and mixing of colors on the canvas, which is especially helpful when creating nuanced gradients or intricate color transitions in a piece.
  6. Timelessness: Throughout centuries, oil paintings have retained their allure and value. Famous paintings and creations maintain their relevance and beauty for generations to come.

Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Start Oil Painting!

Disadvantages of Oil Painting

  • Slow drying time – this may be advantageous for blending and reworking but is inconvenient if you’re working on a tight deadline and seeking quick results.
  • Strong and toxic odors – some oil paints use solvents and chemicals that may be toxic or odorous. An open area or a properly ventilated studio, along with some precautionary measures can alleviate this issue.
  • Complex cleanup – artists often need to use special solvents and techniques to clean their painting tools and equipment properly.
  • Often expensive – gathering high-quality paints and materials can be quite the investment; a potential barrier for artists on a tight budget.

Did you know? The most expensive painting ever sold is by Leonardo da Vinci. Acquired by one Mohamed bin Salman, the Salvator Mundi (The Saviour of the World) sold for a bank-breaking $450.3 million!

  • Yellowing – oil paintings can eventually yellow over time, which changes their colors and appearance.
  • Transport and storage challenges – oil paintings are delicate pieces of art, and careful handling is necessary when transporting or storing them.
  • Requires practice, skill, and patience – beginners may have a hard time with oil painting, so if you find your first piece not looking how you want it, don’t fret. With patience and persistence, you’ll eventually develop the skill to master the craft.

Despite these drawbacks, many artists find the unique qualities and the aesthetic beauty of oil painting outweigh these challenges, making it a preferred medium for their artistic expression. Additionally, as with any artistic endeavor, proper knowledge, techniques, and care can help mitigate many of these disadvantages.

Oil-Based Paints vs. Other Mediums: A Comparison

An oil painting of various colorful flora

Oil-based paints offer more versatility than any other medium, and artists can take creative liberties, like allowing the imprimatura - the first layer of paint - to show. 

It’s not enough to look at the advantages and disadvantages of oil paint – you also need to look into its differences compared to other mediums.

For artists, acrylic and watercolor paints are some of the more common options besides oil paints. Depending on an artist’s style, preferences, and goals, one medium can provide better outcomes than others. 

Understanding the fundamental attributes can shed light on the distinctions between oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints, and educate artists on which medium would give them the best results.

What Are the Differences Between Oil, Acrylic, and Watercolor Paints?

To make this easier to digest, here’s a fun, comparative table of the qualities and considerations across all three mediums:

Oil-Based Paints

Acrylic Paints


Base material


Polymer emulsion


Dying time




Color range

Huge color range

Higher range than watercolor


Suitable surface 

Canvas, paper, wood,  and metals (Note: certain surfaces need primer.)

Canvas, paper, wood, metals, and ceramics

Canvas and paper (cotton and wood pulp)


Most expensive

Less expensive than oil paints

Least expensive

Allows textures?


Yes, but fast drying time limits it.


Allows blending and mixing on canvas?




Allows real-time alterations?




Resistant to water?








Biggest benefit

Longer-lasting; retains beauty and relevance for generations

Great for quick results and tight deadlines

Images have a unique, ethereal quality

Biggest downside

Takes weeks to dry; difficult to store and transport

Limited color range

Incredibly delicate; a single drop of water can ruin the painting

Shop for the Best Gouache Paint Set for Beginners!

Taking Care of Your Brushes and Tools

Yes, we know: If only we could live without the hassle of cleaning up after painting. But maintaining the quality and cleanliness of your oil brushes and tools is as important (if not more) than the painting process itself.

Taking the time to carefully wash and cleanse your brushes and tools ensures their longevity. You invested your money and time in these tools, so it’s only right to maintain them for the next projects and masterpieces you will create.

An oil painting with various color-mixing tools

It's important to take care of your oil painting tools.

So, how do you clean your oil brushes? You can use the following cleaning agents:

  • Solvents – these include mineral spirits, paint thinner, and turpentine. Important note: These are toxic substances, so careful handling is necessary. We recommend using them while in an open or well-ventilated area. 
  • Natural oils – some base oils, like baby oil, linseed, olive, safflower, and walnut oil, can be used to clean brushes.
  • Natural cleaners – white vinegar is an effective oil brush cleaner, especially for those with crusted and dried paint.
  • Soaps – after removing the paint from your brushes, soaking it in water with dish soap helps get rid of the remaining paint.

A Step-by-Step Process on How to Clean Your Oil Paint Brushes

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your oil brushes and tools:

  1. First, remove excess paint on your brush with the help of a paper towel or a washcloth.
  2. Next, dip your brush into your cleaning solution of choice (either solvents, natural oils, or natural cleaners). 
  3. Swish your brush around and let the solution work its magic. Be careful not to push down hard on the bottom of the container, so as not to ruin the brush hairs. Keep it as flat and smooth as possible.
  4. As you take out the brush, lightly tap it on the side of the container to avoid splashing the solution everywhere.
  5. Use paper towels to absorb the excess moisture and paint; you may do this two to three times, or as necessary.
  6. Once that’s done, you may wash or dip your brushes in warm water with dish soap to return the brushes’ tips to their original condition. 

Remember: a clean brush is a long-lasting brush, and a long-lasting brush helps create longer-lasting artwork.

Unlock Your Creativity with Oil Paints

An oil painting of the woods with text saying "Wonders of Oil Paint"

Discover the wonders of oil painting.

The benefits of using oil paints for your next artwork are numerous, offering a wide array of possibilities for expression and creation. The versatility, richness, and durability of oil paints make them an invaluable medium for artists seeking to create timeless, breathtaking pieces.

Embrace the depth and vibrancy that oil paints offer, and let your creativity flow onto the canvas. Also, check out The Creative Corner for more art inspiration and ideas.

Unlock new dimensions in your artistic journey – creativity awaits!

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