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OIL PASTELS – AN AMAZING MEDIUM FOR PAINTERS

OIL PASTELS – AN AMAZING MEDIUM FOR PAINTERS

Oil pastels are still the number one favorite medium, even though I also paint with acrylic and oil. When working with oil pastels It feel as if I am able to combine both painting and drawing qualities using just this one medium. For all categories of oil pastel painting you can visit our stationery book shop. Below I’ve listed all the reasons that make them my number one go-to medium.

Oil pastel drawings

Oil pastels are very different from soft pastels, but also provide a beautiful surface sheen. Oil pastels have a lovely creamy quality when applied to a surface, feeling and looking somewhere between lipstick and crayon. They are made with wax and oil, so they always stay workable even after years, but are dry enough to be stable, and stay on the surface fairly well. 

Since they are always workable it is recommended to either frame them behind glass or spray fix them with any clear fixative when your image is finished. Oil pastels can be applied on just about any surface, whether absorbent or non-absorbent, matte or glossy, smooth or textured, painted or unpainted.

BEST SURFACES FOR OIL PASTEL

My favorite surface for using oil pastels is a smooth Bristol cardstock. Oil pastels are fairly small in size, and are best for use with small size surfaces. There are ways to make your own oil pastels in larger sizes like acrylic paints, but I found that I liked using them as drawing materials in the small size they come in, which fit my hand better, and are portable. I like to use them for outdoor landscape work, creating a small (8” x 10”) painting with them, then using that small size painting as a model to later enlarge in my studio to an acrylic or oil paint work on canvas.

Working on a smooth surface means I can use one of my favorite techniques – scraping back the oil pastel, to reveal the original surface or underlying colored layers of oil pastel. I like to build up layers of colors, one on top of the other, then use a slanted blade x-acto knife to carefully scrape off one color after another until I like the way it looks. The knife can scratch in white lines if you scratch deep enough to the original white surface. Blend colors together with a small amount of solvent on a brush and work into them like oil paints. 

I like the fact that oil pastels are non-toxic and also come in the form of an amazing acrylic color tube, so it's better to blend with my finger and skip the solvent. It’s OK to get messy with these as they clean off your hands easily with baby oil. You can also purchase blending sticks, but fingers are warm making blending easier. If you do use solvents with the oil pastels, make sure to work on a surface that is primed with gesso or sealed in other ways.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OIL PASTELS AND SOFT PASTELS

It’s easy to get confused between oil pastels and the other type of pastel – soft pastel. Both pastels offer beautiful appearances and both are actually soft providing an easy application, but each are very different in nature. Soft pastels are sometimes mistakenly referred to as “chalk pastel”, but “soft pastel” is the correct term. Both oil and soft pastels are available in small size pieces or chunks about 1″ to 2″ in length, and about 1/2″ thick.

Soft pastels consist mostly of pigment loosely held together with a small amount of binder. They are substantial and strong when you use them, but create a delicate surface especially when working with many layers. These are most durable when used on toothy surfaces which can grab the pigment particles holding them in place, and will not work at all on smooth glossy surfaces. The pigments in the soft pastels refract light in a way that no other medium does. This makes for vivid colors and a very attractive surface quality. The best way to protect a pastel painting is to frame it behind glass. Spraying with fixative will often remove white and light colored soft pastel.

Oil pastels are very different from soft pastels, but also provide a beautiful surface sheen. Oil pastels have a lovely creamy quality when applied to a surface, feeling and looking somewhere between lipstick and crayon. They are made with wax and oil, so they always stay workable even after years, but are dry enough to be stable, and stay on the surface fairly well. Since they are always workable it is recommended to either frame them behind glass or spray fix them with any clear fixative when your image is finished. Oil pastels can be applied on just about any surface, whether absorbent or non-absorbent, matte or glossy, smooth or textured, painted or unpainted. 

Oil pastel art

When you think of oil pastel painting, you probably think of the nostalgia of working with them years ago as a little artist. But have you considered using oil pastels to create oil painting-esque works? Here are some oil pastel painting inspirations to get the creative sparks flying and reignite how you think about oil pastels 

1. Still life

Oil pastels are much more portable and lighter than oil paints, and they can create a similar mood, look and rich color. The best part is, that they’re opaque so you can easily build up shadows and highlights by the acrylic paint brush, working dark to light or light to dark.

2. Sunset

This oil pastel artwork almost looks like an impressionist painting. Blending colors using a cotton bud stick, finger or blender can help create these seamless blends and capture the light of a sunset like an impressionist would.

3. Color studies

We love this oil pastel inspiration of creating a color study using a limited color palette. Explore mood, lighting and shapes with a color study in your sketchbook and challenge yourself by limiting your oil pastel color options to a few colors or try adding in one or two bold colors like this bright, carrot orange and coffee tone.

4. Cityscape

Next time you’re experimenting, try different paper stocks with different texture and tooth, this can leave interesting effects and textures to your artworks. This idea uses the tooth of the paper to create a night sky and reflect the light in the water, beauty!

5. Lighthouse

Lighthouses can be a beacon of inspiration and oil pastels are up to the task for that you can use face paint. For seamless blends, try glazing next time you turn to your oil pastels like this project. Use turpentine with a taklon brush over pastels to glaze, or try glazing with water soluble oil pastels, for more consistent blends.

Oil pastel drawing tips

If you’re getting into pastels but not too sure where to start, pick up some oil pastels and check out these 10 oil pastel techniques. Whether you’ve got an oil pastel landscape or project in mind, give some of these a whirl!

1. Blending

Add detail, soften fine lines or improve textures with blending. Pastel mediums blend easily so you won’t have to spend hours rubbing away. To blend, apply light pressure to the pastel and gently rub the surface either using your finger, a tissue, a blender or a cotton stick. This will help blend the tone and wipe away any harsh areas.

2. Watercolor effects

Though they might be called “oil pastels,” you can still create light, watercolor-type effects using them. To create watercolor effects, place a pastel color down, then using a taklon brush with water, apply a wet wash on dry paper to activate the pastel. This technique works wonders for both oil and watersoluble pastels and creates stronger color blends.

3. Glazing

Glazing is a great technique to try with both oil and water soluble oil pastels. This is because the pastels will react when they come into contact with an oil medium or turpentine. First, lay your colors down on dry paper, then using a taklon brush, apply linseed oil or turpentine over the pastel to create a glaze effect. Keep this trick up your sleeve to seamlessly blend colors or add tone to your artworks.

5. Scumbling

Loose, circular strokes over the top of a layer will create a semi-opaque pastel color that will still show the original color underneath. To scumble with oil pastels, apply loose circular strokes using the side of the pastel. This technique is great for adding in tonal details and it can be used to show movement. Keep in mind, when applying the first layer, to apply a good amount of pressure to hide as much whiteness or tooth of the paper, then add a darker tone on top for a smoother blend.

6. Mixed media

You can use pastels along with other media to create abstract works or for when those details just need a pastel polish. To use pastels with acrylic paint, wait until the acrylic is dry, then use your pastels to define or add in any movement or expressive marks. Plus, oil pastels can create a nice texture working harmoniously with painter's paradise pack dealand they’ll leave a nice shiny texture to canvas or paper.

7. Masking

If you’ve ever found creating crisp lines with oil pastels to be a limitation, you might want to try using a masking technique. Use masking tape to protect the edges of your artworks, this will create clean, crisp borders or cover areas. Then as you color the area with the pastel, the tape will protect the paper. Once you’ve finished, you can remove the tape and your area will remain the same color as the paper. This oil pastel technique can be helpful if you’re wanting to use the white or color of the paper for skies, rivers, or for texture like water or pebbles.

8. Flat edge

Oil Pastel paintings are great for texture, but if you’re looking for something more specific or for thick markings, maybe look at the flat edge technique. For this, grab an oil pastel and apply pressure vertically, lift your pastel off the paper and you’ll have a flat marking on the paper. Experiment with various colors of small acrylic paint set, amounts of pressure and lengths to find what works for you.

Landscape Drawing with Oil Pastels

Painterly landscapes are easily created with oil pastels. Because we can layer colors quickly, we can block in areas in a short period of time. These areas can be reworked throughout the process to build up additional depth in the color.

We can choose to use colors that are slightly different from those in the reference photo. By doing so, we were able to create a work of art that was more interesting than the reference photo. This is something that you should always strive to do in your own drawings and paintings. We're artists after all, not cameras.

Here's another approach to landscape drawing with oil pastels. In this lesson series, we took a more Impressionist approach. We still altered the colors slightly to create a more interesting piece of art.

Oil Pastel Techniques

Interestingly, techniques for oil pastels are very similar to those of colored pencils. Here's a look at what I suggest when using oil pastels.

  1. Create an Underpainting - It may be a good idea to create a loose underpainting of values and layer local colors on top.
  1. Layer colors - colors should be layered to achieve depth in color and value.
  1. Slowly Build Up Applications - Adding large quantities of pastel too quickly can lead to muddied colors.
  1. Clean Up the Edges with a Background - You can define the edges of your subject by drawing in the background and cleaning up the edges.

Conclusion

Oil pastels are relatively inexpensive compared to other art media. Sets are widely available and quality can be had without much investment. For most beginners, it is suggested to start with a higher quality oil pastel while keeping in mind the acrylic paint price in pakistan since the difference in price is minimal.Using oil pastels is fun and easy to do, and is something that can be done by both the young and old, beginner and professional. However, just like everything else you need to learn a few techniques and practice until you can create a good art piece


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