Oil Pastel is a relatively new medium, considering that most  have been around for centuries.


In 1921, assisted and advised by artist and theorist Yamamoto, 2 brothers-in-law developed a high quality crayon, which combined the soft, smooth color application of crayon with the brightness of pastel. They continued to improve their product at the Sakura Crayon Company, and thus the name Cray-Pas was born. The final formulation was developed in 1927 and has been considered a children's medium, not one for the serious artist.


In 1947, artists Henri Goetz and Pablo Picasso approached Henri Sennelier with the idea of designing a professional version of the children's product. Picasso told Henri, "I want a colored pastel that I can paint on anything, wood, paper, canvas, metal, etc. without having to prepare or prime the canvas." Goetz wanted a pastel he could use to start oil paintings. He told Henri,  "If painting seems to be the complete of all pictorial techniques, then pastel is certainly the most direct. No instrument as the brush, knife or palette interferes between the artist's gesture and his work." Two years later in 1949, with the help of the two artists, Sennelier invented the first professional oil pastels. They had a creamy consistency with a brilliant color palette. The unusually wide range of grays were chosen specifically by Picasso. Later an assortment of iridescent and metallic pastels was added followed by fluorescents. Sennelier also makes a giant pastel, and more recently a new "Le Grande" size in the same color range as the standards.


Years later,  other brands jumped into the market - Caran d'Ache in 1981, Holbein in the early 80s with two grades of their oil pastels:  student and professional. Talens and Grumbacher added theirs at about the same time


Oil pastels use wax and inert oils as a binder making them non-yellowing and giving them excellent adhesion characteristics. They are completely acid free, and they never harden, thus they will never crack. Oil pastels can be applied to any paper, rigid support or fabric support without technical restraints, allowing the artist complete freedom of expression while maintaining archival stability.


History  References:


Sakura Web site :

Oil Pastel by Kenneth Leslie

Glenn Brill, education director at Savoir Faire




The History of The Oil Pastel Society


The Oil Pastel Society's web site opened in October, 2004, with seven members.  The aim of the society is to offer oil pastelists an opportunity to band together focusing on oil pastels as a serious fine art medium, providing galleries for members to showcase their artwork and participate in a members' only online show each year.


The launching for the Oil Pastel Society actually took place several weeks earlier during a discussion by forum members at the WetCanvas! web site.  Several voiced their desire and need for an organization which would be at the forefront of bringing oil pastels into the limelight.  After an extensive search, in hopes of finding an already established active group, Carly Hardy purchased a web domain and recruited six other artists to work together in the formation of a new society.  September 1, 2004, marked the date for the opening of the OPS website, and the following months were filled with work, both online and offline, for Pat Isaac, Pat Gillin, Rebecca McConnell, Eileen Claire, Kathryn Wilson and Sue Choppers-Wife.


With input from the Oil Pastel Studio at!, the group was able to identify and set priorities for the organization and without the 'web', the  work of the group could not have been accomplished.


The Oil Pastel Society is a private internet organization and is not listed as non-profit. It's sole purpose and charter is stated below. Funds are provided thru member dues and used for web hosting, postage, advertising, additional juror fees, show promotion, and any other costs involved in the daily business of the Society.


This year the OPS celebrates its 8th year online with Carly Hardy and Pat Isaac offering oil pastelists the opportunity to join with them in furthering oil pastels as a fine art medium!


Our 10th year, 2014, has shown much change in the status of oil pastels! and the Society for the past ten years has definitely made an impact on the knowledge of the medium by showcasing the works of its membership thru the years, the annual shows highlighting the best of the best!, and our resolve to continue with our mission statement. This year also has seen changes in the needs of the members online and will continue to evolve as a Society to meet those needs.



The OPS Mission Statement


The Oil Pastel Society was formed on September 1, 2004, to promote the knowledge and understanding of oil pastel as a fine art medium and to expand the awareness of oil pastel to other artists, galleries, the media, and the general public. Thru the internet, the Society reaches an international community of artists who share their art and inspire one another in furthering oil pastel as a fine art medium.













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