Wednesday, August 6

The 'Secret' of Oil Pastel

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There IS Interest in Oil Pastels

Last blog I told you about my first try with oil pastels in, oh, about 30 years. I think I have a pretty good eye, but I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the outcome of my Coffee Cup on Table drawing. Between you and me, I was starting to question oil pastel as a real ‘artists’ material’ as they were described on the box.

But what do I know, trying to renew my interest in art again after all those years? Maybe there’s not that much interest in oil pastels anymore, which wouldn’t have surprised me. I Googled ‘oil pastel’ and, my gosh--OMG, there are 1,080,000 sites that mention oil pastel. Obviously, someone is still very interested in oil pastels. So the old cliché about a dog and its tricks is true-- you can still learn something new, even in retirement :-).

After seeing a lot of sites with FAQs, with vendors selling oil pastel, and sites wanting to explain how to use them, I figured there’s more to this story. I must be missing something. I poked around a few of the sites that had instructions or how-to’s. Some talked about using them as a crayon just as I had done. On one I read about using turpentine. Hmm. Since I like to see what I’m reading in the context of the material and can also hold a book up close if need be, I pulled one out from my growing collection of art books to see what it said.

I looked up oil pastel and was happy to find a section on it. It was in the chapter on Pastels. It said they weren’t like ordinary pastels--not sure, but supposed they meant the ones like chalk. It said oil pastels are bound with oil and wax as I had learned the day before and were capable of exciting effects. Really?

The Missing Link

Then there it was. The missing link of information. Oil pastel can be dissolved with turpentine or “mineral spirits” (whatever they are) and spread just like oil paint. You can stick the oil pastel into turpentine and then draw, or you can draw with oil pastel first and then wipe or brush turpentine over it. I would never have thought to do that.

I want you to know there’s even a group called the Oil Pastel Society. When I looked it came up third on the first page of my search, so it must be a pretty popular place. According to their Mission, the purpose of the OPS is “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.” After my experience, I see the need for public relations.

Too bad my set of oil pastels didn’t come with any instructions. But now I knew ‘the secret’ and couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ll let you know what happened next blog. (The image at the top of today’s blog may give you a preview.)

In the Studio

My moon and mountain acrylic is moving along nicely I’m happy to say. I added the groundwork yesterday and began to work on the mountain range. The cloud formations will be next.

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