Thursday, August 7

Painting With Oil Pastels

Have you been humming the song Go Where You Wanna Go (The MaMa’s & The PaPa’s) I mentioned the other day? I suggested listening while doing your art because it could remind you of the many possibilities awaiting you. You used to enjoy drawing, painting, or some other art form back in the day. And, as a baby boomer, you probably enjoyed the music of the 50s, 60s, and/or 70s. As a retiree, you now have time to explore, so renew your interest in art (and music) and try something new!

You Can Paint with a Stick (of Oil Pastel)

My apologies to the Oil Pastel Society when I said the oil pastel I saw in a book... “looked like a very well done picture in a coloring book done with crayons...had a child-like quality…and wondered if they meant it to be that way.” As I said, I was disappointed with the results of my oil pastel. But with a little digging, I found the ‘secret.’ It was turpentine or ‘mineral spirits.’ I wasn’t familiar with ‘mineral spirits,’ so here’s the scoop from Wikipedia—
  • Artists use mineral spirits as an alternative to turpentine, one that is both less flammable and less toxic. Because of interactions with pigments, artists require a higher grade of mineral spirits than many industrial users, including the complete absence of residual sulphur. Odorless Mineral Spirits are mineral spirits that have been further refined to remove the more toxic aromatic compounds, and are recommended for applications such as oil painting, where humans have close contact with the solvent

Yikes, so do not use turpentine, but do use odorless mineral spirits (OMS) or equivalent. There’s enough going on in the world without our having residual sulphur or toxic aromatic compounds!

So I thought better of using turpentine and bought OMS. Not to alarm anyone further, but always read the warning label and work in a well ventilated space. OK, if I haven’t scared everyone off, let’s get back to the oil pastels.

I played around with my old set of oil pastels and the OMS on drawing paper resulting in something similar to the image in the last blog. Note, if the weight of the paper you’re using isn’t very heavy, the OMS can soak through to the next sheet, so be aware.

When you mix oil pastels and OMS, the stick of oil pastel dissolves or melts (as if by magic before your very eyes!) and thins out depending on the amount of OMS. You can then paint the mixture using a brush or whatever.

I had a good time. It was like being in art class in school again--you can mix up the colors and smear them all around. Go ahead, try it, and enjoy! Remember it said on my box of oil pastels--Oil Painting With A Stick--and I didn’t get it. Well, now I get it. So I’m a convert.

I bought a new box of oil pastels, actually two. One has 60 colors, and the other has metallic colors including gold and silver, which I haven’t tried yet. The new box came with instructions, and it mentioned a couple of other techniques. One is ‘scratchboard’ where you draw a picture, overlay it with a dark color, then scratch lines through it. The other uses a watercolor wash over your drawing, which causes it to ‘bead up’ with an interesting effect.

Haven’t tried either of those, but the graphic at the top of this blog shows my oil pastel painted using OMS. I now agree you can achieve vibrant colors and exciting effects—look how bright the red chile pepper is!

In the Studio

Back to my “studio,” such as it is, on a very warm afternoon. I completed the foreground and mountain range on my moon over mountain acrylic. For those I used a combination of raw umber and doixazine purple. For the highlighted areas of the foothills and mountains, I used red oxide and burnt sienna.

Painting the cloud formations was the challenging part because that’s what holds the piece together. But, hey, I like a challenge. For that I used greyish-blue, a touch of cadmium yellow light, terra cotta, and Davy’s gray/grey. I need to put the finishing touches on it.

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