Acrylic (Gloss Varnish) Vs Oil (Alkyd Resin)

I’ve spent a lot of time painting layers using both acrylic and oil based mediums such as Liqutex Gloss Medium & Varnish, and a fast drying oil medium such as Alkyd Resin. Whether neat or as transparent layers, I find the oil based mediums to be more glass-like, warmer and ultimately a ‘glossier’ finish (if that’s what you are going for). Unfortunately most oil based mediums, or rather the one I use, which is Jackson’s Fast Drying Oil Medium (an alkyd) has a high (no pun intended) fume rating. I have a fumes mask, but as most of us do this spends much of its time in the packet. The oil based medium is far cheaper per volume when compared to the Liquitex, although the obvious advantage is the odor free (no fumes at least) nature of the acrylic medium. In actual fact the acrylic proves to be more transparent and free from any immediate yellowing properties. but that being said this is all part of the characteristic warmness of the oil medium. This could of course be replicated in some fashion using a certain amount of paint in the acrylic layers. I tend to do a lot of ‘finishing’ layers that create a highly reflective and glassy finish, again another advantage of the oil based medium is how it smooths out brush marks (if that’s what you want, which I do for such layers). There are distinct advantages to both, but I just wish the alkyd resin didn’t stink so much! Better get the mask out and close the door to my studio!


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