Choosing between watercolours, acrylics and oil paints when you start painting

If you are looking to reconnect to or access your artistic side, painting can be a fun way to express your creativity. If you are looking at starting to paint, one of the first questions to answer is which kinds of paints you'll be using to create your new masterpieces.

Here is a comparison of some of the pros and cons of the different options for types of paint.


Watercolours are a common starting option for paints. They are the cheapest option and offer a light wash of colour with each stroke allowing colour to be slowly built up to the desired level. They are also compact and easy to transport, so they can be a great option if you want to get out and do some nature painting. Watercolour is also easy to clean up, with everything washing out of paint brushes, clothing and any splashed surfaces with water.


Acrylics are a modern option, offering the vibrancy of an oil paint with the easy clean water solubility for cleaning of a water based paint. They tend to be a mid priced option, although very affordable bottled options are available to use in school environments. Acrylics are relatively easy and opaque to work with but require a more planned approach, as it is not easy to remove paint from a misstroke on the canvas or paper, and attempts to blend colours can easily turn muddy if you don't proceed with caution. They come in a range of colours, including bright neons, metallics and glitter finishes.

Oil paints

Oil paints are a traditional favourite paint of artists, and nearly all of the 'old masters' used oil paints for their masterpieces. They are the most expensive option although cheaper, lower-quality, student options are available. Oil paints require more technical painting mastery due to their thicker texture and consequent "textural" look on the canvas compared to the flatter texture of watercolours or acrylics, which shows up in poor or inconsistent techniques. They are also harder to blend and needs to be cleaned up or thinned with mineral turpentine. This can make oil painting a challenging option if you are looking to paint on the go, rather than in a fixed spot in an art studio.

No matter what paints you choose, it's possible to create great looking pictures. If you are still trying to decide which paints and art supplies to buy, why not head to an art supply website to compare the best options you can find online.