Tuesday, August 5

Oil Pastel Learning (Curve)

Do you remember The MaMa’s & The PaPa’s? You know, the singing group from the 1960s with the late MaMa Cass Elliot? The lyrics to one of their songs has been going through my head the last few days. Know what I mean—it just keeps looping? It’s the one that goes,”You gotta go where you wanna go, and do what you wanna do, with whoever you wanna do it with…” Remember that one?

I think it’s a good song for baby boomers near or in retirement since it talks about doing whatever you want to do, now that you have the time, and I would like to suggest that you listen to that song while you do your artwork. I, of course, don’t have to, since it’s already playing in my head.

What's Up with Those Oil Pastels?

Last blog I told you about my discovering an old set of oil pastels way back in a drawer. I still can’t remember when I used them last, but by looking at them, they have definitely been used (see the image of my set on the the last blog). What do you do with these? Since they look like crayons, I’m sure you use them for drawing color. This was way before I had heard about drawing with Conte crayons that I recently discussed in a blog.

The box says they’re ‘artists’ materials,’ and even has the plural possessive apostrophe in the right place--materials for all artists—so I’m impressed. I find a clue. Inside the box top, it says, “Oil Painting With A Stick.” Now this was getting interesting. I had never heard of such a thing, have you? Painting with a stick?

I checked one source, which said oil pastels are good for vibrant, pure color, and to use thick strokes for the best results. The example they showed looked like a very well done picture in a coloring book done with crayons. It had a child-like quality to it. I wondered if they meant it to be that way.

OK, I had to try this. According to the box, I had a set of 12 artists’ size pastels brilliant color. There were no names of any of the colors on what was left of the wrappers, but I can figure this out. I have a black and a white, a bright red, purple, a very dark blue, a light blue, a dark green, a lighter green but on the yellow side, a bright yellow, orange, a dark brown, and a light brown. I would later find out the equivalent names for these colors in acrylic paint, such as burnt umber, but that’s a whole other blog series; for now, I’ll just call them by coloring book names.

I decided to use one of my previous pencil sketches as a go-by to try my first oil pastel in a very long time or maybe ever. It was a drawing of an empty coffee or tea cup sitting on a table. Nothing fancy. I worked on that for a while, didn’t like, started over twice, and re-worked it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no professional artist, but even I was having doubts about oil pastels. My finished drawing looked like a very average picture in a coloring book done with crayons. Not only did it have that child-like quality, it looked like a child had drawn it, not to cast any aspersions on children’s art.

My first thought was that somebody was putting one over on the community of artists, or maybe my oil pastels weren’t really 'artists’ pastels.' Who would call them an artists’ material when the outcome was so, well, un-something? I’m in the camp that believes art is in the eye of the beholder, but I was really beginning to wonder if oil pastels were meant to look this way.

Then I had a break-through. Next blog I’ll tell you what it was.

In the Studio

Literally back to the drawing board in my “studio,” such as it is. The moon and mountain acrylic I've told you about is on track. I painted in the sky, which sets the atmosphere for the whole thing. I used a cerulean blue with a little water and added greyish-blue (that’s the manufacturer’s name) near the top. I’ll start on the groundwork today.

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