What are oil pastels?  Oil pastel is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike "soft" or "French" pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. (source: Wikipedia) Professional grade oil pastels are non-acidic.


How do oil pastels dry?  Oil pastels do not dry by oxidation (exposure to the air). Instead, they will harden with time. Thin applications of oil pastels may seem to dry quickly but heavier applications can take months to harden off.


What surfaces can oil pastels be used on?   Almost any surface will work for an oil pastel substrate. Canvas, wood panels, sheets of metal, watercolor paper, sanded paper surfaces, or any surface that you want to experiment with, are just some of the substrates that oil pastels can be applied to.


What tools do I need to work with oil pastels?  Tools for blending can include tortillons (often called torties), paper towels, soft cloths, stiff brushes, and yes, your fingertips! Scraping tools can consist of old credit cards, razor blades, palette knives, and any other flat sharp tool you might come across. Oil pastels can be layered and scratched thru for fine lines or abstract shapes. Scraping off large areas will leave ghost images which can be painted over.


What about clean up?  Paper towels or a hand towel for wiping off messy sticks. Moist wipes work well on the hands.


What solvents can I use?  Weber's Turpenoid, Odorless Mineral Spirits, Gamsol are popular solvents. For the water soluble oil pastels, water should be used.


Can oil pastels be used on location?  Yes, they are excellent for plein air painting. If the temperature is 80 or over, you might find that using a small cooler with ice for storage will keep the sticks from becoming too soft to paint with.




The following are links to various demos, interviews, and information provided by members of the Oil Pastel Society.


Plein Air Demonstration by Carly Hardy


Demonstration by Linda Shantz


Protecting Your Oil Pastel by Ann Tucker


Mini Oil Pastel Kit and Outdoor Painting by Wendy Manning


Framing Without Glass by Marilyn Brandenberger


Tips On Fine Detail by Sarah Theophilus


Tools For Working With Oil Pastels


Sennelier Demonstration by Lindsay Olson





Along The River

Plein Air Oil Pastel by Carly Hardy

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