|Artist Oil Pastels are usually made from a mixture of pigment; a wax, usually a vegetable or Beeswax and an oil, this can vary in type from manufacturer to manufacturer.
The proportions of oil and wax mixed with the pigments gives the oil pastels their soft, velvety feel. The degree of softness does vary because of this ratio, it is also affected by the type of wax and oil used.
The main Artist quality oil pastels to look for are; Caran D'Ache, Sennelier and Holbein. Research shows these contain quality products with excellent lightfast and archival properties.
The Oil pastel painting above measures 7 inches by 4.5 inches, it's my first Oil pastel and was painted over forty years ago on watercolour paper.
Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner with Oil Pastels
This is Sapphire Blue Neopastel from Caran D'Ache, applied to Saunders Waterford HP 140 lb paper. It gives a good example of the ways Oil pastel can be applied and blended.
Furthest left is just oil pastel applied to the paper. I basically held the oil pastel like you would a pencil and laid down lines on the diagonal to apply the pastel. Oil Pastel strokes can be kept very loose and you can draw with them overlaying one colour with another.
With most types of paper surfaces there will usually be some 'drag' of the pastel as you move it across the surface. On less absorbent surfaces, the smooth velvety feel of the oil pastels is more apparent and blending is easier.
Saunders Waterford 140 lb paper primed with Blackened Bronze Liquid Metal which has an acrylic base. The paper has retained its tooth but notice how the oil pastel has gone on much smoother and the blending is also more even.
From my experience of using Oil pastels - they live a better life on less absorbent surfaces than un-sized paper products and a more rigid surface suits them very well. To give a less absorbent surface to watercolour paper apply a coat of archival Gelatine, Gesso, Acrylic, Permanent Pigmented Ink or Liquid Metal Ink as the primer.
This is just a small insight into Oil pastels, especially for those who have not tried them before or are unsure of the possibilities. Get to know your media, the surfaces you can use it on and the products you can use with it, but most of all enjoy yourself.
Copyright© Jacqui Blackman 2000
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