One of the main goals of this website is to talk about various oil pastel techniques and share all the ways to use the medium. Oil pastels are a very diverse medium, however, getting them under control can sometimes take a bit of practice and trying out different techniques. So here is a quick list of tips and advice you can use:
If there is one oil pastel technique that is asked about the most, that definitely has to do with blending techniques. Personally, for blending I use my fingers, and will often use tortillions to make a nice smooth transition. Here is a good tortillion set to use for blending with oil pastels: Loew-Cornell Assorted Blending Stumps and Tortillions, 10-Count This can take some getting used to at first, but with practice you can get some very nice blending going on with tortillions. But even with those, I still end up using fingers very often. I recommend having some soft paper towels handy for wiping off your fingers and any other mess that might occur!
Another great set of tools for blending is the Colour Shaper Tool and Pastel Blending Set – these are really great for getting fine details and just the right line work with oil pastels.
With oil pastels, sometimes creating layers of colors can be a challenge. Maybe the pastels you are using don’t work over as smoothly with the layers beneath, or sometimes the blending doesn’t work out as well as you had hoped. What I often like to do is use a less expensive set of oil pastels for my base layers of color, then I work over that base layer with a premium brand of oil pastels such as Sennelier. This way, I’m not burning through a set of an expensive brand quickly.
If the layering is not going well for you, I have an article of some quick tips you can try:
Layering techniques with Oil Pastels – this article discusses some of the challenges and solutions that I have found when layering with oil pastels.
One technique that can be used in painting with oil pastels is by using pointillism. Oil pastels are a great medium for this type of approach, because the oil pastels will not bleed into each other, although there can be some layering done (my recommendation is to not over-do layering when using pointillism).
Basically, to make a pointillist painting, all you do is create a series of dots in different colors, and let the eye do the blending of different colors. So if you create a series of dots of blue mixed with dots of reds, the result on the surface appears to be purple. In my work with pointillism, I have found that a mid-toned gray is an ideal surface to use this technique. In particular I like the sand-toned Pastelbords by Ampersand.
To demonstrate this approach, I have an article on Pointillism with Oil Pastels.
The following articles are step-by-step demonstrations that show how various oil pastels pieces were developed as I worked on each of them. These articles are:
‘Little Hawk’ – Oil Pastels Step by Step – this is an oil pastel painting of a hawk on 8×10 Canson paper.
Oil Pastels Still Life Study – a still life of pears
Wet Lips – A Study in Oil Pastel Techniques – the site’s most popular article so far! This is a step-by-step showing how I was able to achieve a level of realism in this close-up painting of lips.
Please take note that this page is a work in progress. I like to revise this page and update it often, as it is one of the most searched-for parts of the website. If you have any comments or want to share your own oil pastel techniques, feel free to comment on any of the articles. Thanks for visiting Oil Pastels Artist!