Oil Pastel Techniques Study – “Little Hawk”

I have new oil pastels artwork to share and for this piece again I took several pictures along the way, to demonstrate some of the techniques that I like to use.

Step One

As I usually do with oil pastels, I begin by making a sketch of my subject, then work from there. Normally I like to get a feel for the base colors in the piece, however for this one I was really focused on that beak and the eye and so I began getting detailed there first. Usually I try to avoid getting too detailed too quickly however I guess this time around I decided to take a risk with it.

Little Hawk Step 1
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 1


Step Two

Next I fill in some base colors, particularly the background. I also continue the focus on the beak area and around the eye. I found it was difficult here to get the finer lines with my oil pastels. I had to sharpen each pastel to a fine point for nearly every line here.

Little Hawk Step 2
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 2


Step Three

In this step I am still focused on the area from the eye to the beak, and I’m also adding more depth to the eye. I feel that I actually overdid it here – it got too dark in front of the eye, and as you’ll see in the next steps, I ended up lightening that area.

Little Hawk Step 3
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 3


Step Four

In this step I begin filling in colors for the rest of the head. In my normal routine of working on an oil pastels piece, I would usually have done this in an earlier step. I usually like to establish some base colors throughout the piece first, but in this case I felt confident everything would come together in the end.

Little Hawk Step 4
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 4


Step Five

Next I work out more of the details in the feathers on the rest of the head. I also have not been satisfied with the depth of the brow over the eye and I continue to work on that.

Little Hawk Step 5
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 5


Step Six

In this step everything is finally falling in to place. I have been focused on the feathering and the rest of the head here. Initially I wanted to get more detailed, but eventually I felt that the piece was working fine without fine details in the feathering. Since there is more detail in the eye and beak area, this helps to keep a focus in the front of the face, where it probably should be.

Little Hawk Step 6
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 6


Step Seven

In the final step, I have touched up everything all around. I have added more whisker detail under the mouth, added a little bit more detail in the eye, and I have made the feathering in the back of the head even darker in places. This is one of those pieces where it can be extremely tempting to endlessly continue on and on fixing details, and I had been doing that until I finally found a place I was comfortable with leaving it.

Little Hawk Step 7
Little Hawk - Oil Pastels Step 7


Final Words

I feel I have completed a strong piece, although I was not very satisfied with the surface I used. It is a page out of a pad of Canson Mi-Tientes paper, which normally should be used for sketching and studies rather than a more serious piece or artwork. I may do a similar hawk piece on Pastelbord next, and also possibly attempt to do that one in a larger scale.

I hope you enjoyed this study in oil pastel techniques. Feel free to ask a question or leave comments in the form below.
– Eric

2 thoughts on “Oil Pastel Techniques Study – “Little Hawk””

  1. Next time, if you decide to re-create it, try Strathmore Charcoal paper. It’s got some tooth to it and you can always mount it on top of a sheet or two of Bristol if you need it thicker. & don’t worry about your pieces not coming out the way you had planned – sometimes there are happy accidents. Besides, not everything we do will end up at the Smithsonian, you know what I mean? Put it up on eBay – someone may like your “mistake” as-is; the buyer has no idea what you originally intended for the piece.

    Anyway nice step-by-step here. I liked this blog post better than the video. Thanks

    1. Hi Iris, I think I have some Strathmore Charcoal paper – I will give that a try with the oil pastels. Thanks for the comments… about the video, I was just playing with some free youtube tools to put something quick together. The next video will be more in depth! – Eric

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