Broken Rules | My Journey from Oils to Acrylics

Blue coastal abstract landscape painting at sunrise.
Broken Rules, 2016


We all know oil and water don't mix, and neither do oil paints and acrylics. A big no-no. But being an artist, well, I couldn't resist. Besides, aren't some rules meant to be broken?

Broken Rules is a transition piece – mostly acrylic with a dab of oil. It was created early in 2016 when I was new to acrylics. I had developed a rare reaction of sorts to oil/cold wax medium, and in spite of much research and physician visits, the cause for my ailment remained a mystery. 

As I had described in a previous post, I had been feeling poorly for some time. I had already switched mediums once before, from encaustics to oil/cold wax, and had gotten to a comfort level with the latter. But the more I painted, the more I suffered, experiencing what's probably best described as asthma-like symptoms. On particularly long painting days, symptoms ranged from soreness in the throat to sharp chest pains. 

Reluctantly and with skepticism, I switched to acrylics. By force of habit, I started using the same tools and techniques to which I had become accustomed, and simulated oil/wax as closely as I could. I did this by mixing extra heavy gel to my acrylics. I continued to paint with a spatula, marking each layer with sharp tools. 

My acrylic painting supplies were meager at this point since I was still experimenting with the medium. Quickly, I began missing the range of colors I had accumulated with oils – lovely seafoam greens and deep, dark blues – that taunted me from nearby. So like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I did it. I added a dab of creamy dark blue oil paint to my acrylic gel paste and whipped it up with my spatula. To my surprise, nothing happened. No thunder or lightning, no burning fires. They simply mixed.

This may be because I was using "Charvin Extra Fine" oil paints, which has a high pigment load, and therefore less oil for acrylics to resist. Even so, I figured that with my painting style, any cracking, flaking, and other fissures that reveal underlying colors would be a desirable outcome. 

So, you may ask, did I repeat this with another painting? I tend to be a risk-taker but not knowing more, I played it safe. (Somehow, I can hear a sigh of relief, from paint manufacturers and collectors alike, lol.) Now nearly a year later, I can say that I have made the transition to acrylics and, once again, I have arrived at a comfort level with the new medium. As my work continues to evolve, I hope it will impart a richness that is a result of my experience in the various mediums.

Interested in buying a print? Click here: Broken Rules Giclée Print