Explorations in Oil paint

Tiffany Horrocks's image

Warning: Nudity below!

Covid Hibernations

During our last shutdown, I realized just how lucky I am to have my painting passions also be how I make a living. I can’t imagine how difficult it could have been for all those people out there that didn’t have rewarding activities to do while shut in the house.

Figurative paintings

Unfinished figurative oil paintings.

In the last few years, I’ve grown curious about the possibilies of painting in oil. It’s been many, many years since I’ve attempted anything in oil. I wanted to know “How is thick oil different from thick acrylic (acylic and gel mediums) when applied whith a palette knife.


Often people ask me technical questions about the difference between oil and acrylic impasto during workshops and to my chagrin I didn’t always know the answer. 

With that in mind, and because I have often thought of doing figurative paintings, I thought to myself, “Why not married the two challenges?” Somehow with the myriad of subject matter is out there I had never tackled that one. With every new subject matter comes challenges.

The results are these two paintings done in oil. Neither of them are finished.

So what did I think?

First of all, while there are a lot of similarities between oil and acrylic impasto, there are a lot of differences too. In a nutshell, I’ll be sticking to acrylic impasto. 
So why didn’t I finish these paintings? In short, I found I wasn’t enjoying the medium. 
For everyone who is wanted to know some of the differences between oil and acrylic, here are some of my discoveries.


  • For a quick loose palette knife work, oil paint had a nice texture and mixed well. 
  • I did like the extra working time. Definitely a plus. 


  • Trying time. It drove me crazy. It took so long and the midpoint in drying was tricky too.
  • I really didn’t like how difficult it was to add wet on to dry paint. The texture was difficult to deal with. 
  • I won’t lie. Having partially finished two paintings, I can’t say I’m an expert in oil. So why didn’t I finish these paintings? In short, I found I wasn’t enjoying the medium. There are a lot of techniques to learn and during this process I realized, just how much I like acrylic impasto. I ended up asking myself “ Why wasn’t I just painting in a medium I love?“
  • It seemed like the colours in oil both became in less vibrant in shades and tones.
  • Oil drys much darker than I’m used to.

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