3 New Oil Pastel Techniques To Try

3 Ways to Take Your Paintings to New Dimensions

By Alina Bradford

Oil pastels are a unique painting medium because they can be used for painting and drawing by manipulating the sticks of pigment.

Oil pastels consist of pigment suspended in an oil binder. The pigment is rolled into stick form, making it handy for drawing, but with a little heat, paint or solvent, they can become so much more. Adding these types of techniques to an artist’s bag of tricks is a good way to add variety and spice to a painting.

Heating Oil Pastels

Melting PastelsAdding heat to oil pastels makes them buttery and painterly. They tend to look a lot like oil paints on the canvas. Here are a few ways to heat an oil pastel:

  1. Peel the paper from the oil pastel and hold the end a few inches away from a lit candle. Don’t hold it too close or the pastel will get too soft. Apply the pastel to the canvas before it cools.
  2. Lay the pastels that will be used in the painting onto a heating pad set on low. The Melted Oil Pastel on Paperslight warmness will heat the pastels just a little and will make them glide across the canvas and blend easily.
  3. Touch the tip of the pastel to a coffee cup warmer. These can be purchased at most department stores for a few dollars. Make sure to wipe any pastel residue off of the hotplate of the warmer.

Adding Solvent to Pastels

Oil Pastel and Oil on hot press paperIf heating pastels is a bit intimidating, adding mineral oil or linseed oil to a pastel stick will also give it a paint-like feel.

All the artist has to do is dip the oil pastel into the oil and then apply it to the canvas.
The artist may also want to try putting a wash of oil directly onto the canvas and then applying the dry oil pastel on top. This is sort-of like a dry-on-wet painting technique. For a wet-on-wet painting technique, the pastel can be dipped into the oil and then used on a canvas that has been prepped with oil.

Caution: Do not coat a pastel in oil and then heat it. This could cause a fire.

Layering with Watercolor

canna paintingIt is hard to finish an oil pastel drawing without a little white from the paper showing through. This can be solved by painting the surface with a wash of watercolor before laying down the first layer of pastel.

Since watercolor is water based and this type of pastel is oil based, watercolors can’t be layered on top of oil pastel and the watercolors must dry completely before oil pastel can be used on the surface.

Also, the artist should make sure that the watercolor color complements the colors that will be used in the drawing.

Artists using these oil pastel techniques will be able to achieve a wide array of results, taking their painting and drawing to the next level.

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