Can you mix acrylic and oil paint?

I remember when I wanted to give my try and mix acrylic and oil paint together. Then I didn’t consider myself as an artist and I didn’t know much about different mediums so I mixed the two and painted a giant sunflower.

In the same week, I left for vacation. When I came home a week later, I was horrified at my painting! It had been completely ruined … I was really confused as to what had happened until I did a little research and found that acrylic and oil paints aren’t compatible together.

can you mix acrylic and oil paint

Is it possible to mix acrylic and oil paint?

Acrylic paint and oil paint should not be mixed together. There are ways to paint using both of them on the same canvas but when you’re putting your paints onto the palette you just need to make sure that the two paints stay separated.

The reason for avoiding mixing the different paints is because both have such different properties that when they are mixed together, they don’t make for the most compatible duo.

What happens when you mix acrylic and oil paint?

If you blend acrylics and oils together on your palette it might appear like all is well at first. In fact, it will appear as if all is well when you’re applying them onto the canvas too. You will not be able to tell that you made a mistake until a little bit later. 

The pigments found in the two paints are not compatible and do not blend well, so after some time the pigments will break down and ruin the painting as well as the canvas. Acrylic paint can not stick to oil so as it dries and ages then it will begin to flake off. There is no specific time frame for when you can expect to see flaking.

Sometimes it will happen immediately as the painting dries but with other paintings it can take up to weeks to start seeing the damage. Either way, no matter how long it takes to start seeing the damage, you can know its inevitable.

What properties make them incompatible?

The two are very incompatible when it comes to the drying process, textures, aging and also the cleaning methods.


A good reason not to mix the acrylic and oil paint together is that they have very different ways of drying. Acrylics is water-based and is known for fast drying time. When it begins to dry water starts to evaporate from the paint. This will lead to the acrylic paint expanding and flattening onto the canvas.

As for oil paints, it takes longer to dry due to the complex process of the chemical reaction. They absorb the oxygen and expand on the canvas when drying. They dry by what’s called a siccative quality.


When you look closer at texture, Acrylic paint is more permeable and spongier compared to the smooth oil paint. This is main reason why acrylic won’t stick to the oil paints and most certanly going to lead painting to flake.

Aging and cleaning

When you’re painting with acrylics you do not need to be worried about the color dying out. It will stay the way you painted it even as it ages. As for oil paintings, as time continues the colors will not stay as vibrant as when they were first applied to the canvas. They will turn yellowish or brown.

As paintings age, they’ll probably need a good cleaning at one point. To clean an acrylic painting, you can use a little bit of water. Do NOT use water when you’re trying to clean an oil painting, the pigments will come right off. It would be best to use a soft dry brush in order to brush the dust off.

You might find interesting: How to clean Canvas painting?

How to paint with acrylic and oil paint at the same time

Even though the two should never be mixed together there is a safe method in which you can use acrylic and oil on the same canvas.

Oils Over Acrylics

  • You’re going to want to start with acrylic paint on your canvas. Do whatever you need to with the acrylic paint but when it comes a time that you want to use the oil paint you MUST wait until the acrylic paint has dried completely.
  • If you start to paint the oil over the top of the damp acrylic then the paint properties are going to clash.
  • You also want to make sure that when you’re painting with both paints that the acrylic paint isn’t applied too thickly or too smoothly. You want to make sure that the oil will still be able to stick.
EXTRA TIP: When you go to prime your canvas, you want to be sure that the primer you have purchased works well with oil AND acrylic paints.

Can you mix different paints with acrylic?

You can mix acrylic paint with latex paint. The two are very similar but are not the same. Both paints contain acrylic resin as well as polymers. Acrylic paint is more chemical-based while latex paint is water-based but they work well together!

Acrylic and latex paint are typically mixed together when there’s house paint and someone wants to change the color a little bit.

How to mix the Acrylics with Latex paint?

There are two different ways to mix acrylic with latex and it depends on if you’ve decided to use fluid or tube acrylic paints.

Fluid acrylic more common but also more expensive which is why a lot of people opt for tube paint. When you want to add the fluid acrylic to the latex you simply dump it into the latex and stir it. Simple and easy.

For mixing tube acrylic paint follow this steps:

  1. Squeeze acrylic paint from tube into a container
  2. Add a few drop of water to soften the paint
  3. Mix well!
  4. Pour mixture from the container into the latex paint

The last step is very important. You need to continue stirring until the streaks of acrylic paint in the latex are gone. It’s a couple of extra steps compared to the fluid acrylic process but really not enough steps to make it a huge hassle

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