Using Iridescent Oil Pastels & Iridescent Acrylic Medium on Deep Sea Art

"Using Iridescent Oil Pastels & Iridescent Acrylic Medium on Deep Sea Creatures" (blog post) | |

Deep sea creatures are really fascinating — they range from the frightening to (in a couple cases) the really cute. There are not a lot of art pieces out there depicting them, so it seemed a fun and different project to tackle making a couple of deep sea pieces.

One was a frilled shark, one of the scarier-looking, more stereotypical and weird deep sea species. The other was just the opposite: a cute and comical flapjack octopus.

Oil Pastel? Acrylic Paint? How About Both!

It seemed a bit bland to depict deep sea creatures with regular oil pastel. Though it’s a great art medium, it just didn’t seem right for bioluminescent animals. At the same time, acrylic paint didn’t seem quite right, either. For these pieces, it seemed like it would be fun to somehow show the phosphorescence of the deep sea environment — though that’s impossible for these two species, since they don’t have any bioluminescence of their own. The solution? Using iridescent art materials with just a bit of reflective quality.

And it’s impossible to see in the photos, but the method really worked well.

"Using Iridescent Oil Pastels & Iridescent Acrylic Medium on Deep Sea Creatures" (blog post) | |
“Deep Sea Creature: Frilled Shark” (oil pastels and acrylic paint on mixed media paper)
Iridescent Acrylic Medium

If you’re unfamiliar with iridescent acrylic medium, it’s like any other acrylic medium that gets mixed into acrylic paint. Used at a 1:1 ratio (though you can use it however you like), it creates just a little bit of a reflective quality or sheen without actually being too sparkly. In fact, it almost makes acrylic paint look a tiny bit like oil paint.

In these pieces, black acrylic paint was mixed with iridescent medium for the deep sea background.

"Using Iridescent Oil Pastels & Iridescent Acrylic Medium on Deep Sea Creatures" (blog post) | |
“Deep Sea Creature: Flapjack Octopus” (oil pastels and acrylic paint on mixed media paper)
Iridescent Oil Pastels

Iridescent oil pastels (by Sennelier) can be a lot of fun to work with. You really can see the iridescent sheen, which turned out well with the half-iridescent acrylic background. They blend just like the other Sennelier oil pastels, being very “buttery” and soft. You can blend them with a blending stump or even paper towel.

The bodies of the animals were mainly done with the iridescent oil pastels (the eyes were regular oil pastels).

"Using Iridescent Oil Pastels & Iridescent Acrylic Medium on Deep Sea Creatures" (blog post) | |
Close-up of “Deep Sea Creature: Frilled Shark” (oil pastels and acrylic paint on mixed media paper)
Success: Simple Deep Sea Art!

These are by no means complex pieces, like the oil pastel carousel horse, but they were fun to work on and depict animal subjects that need to be drawn and painted more…even just for fun.


Materials used:

Also used:
Iridescent Acrylic Medium
Black Acrylic Paint

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The Benefits of Oil Pastels: A “Happy Medium”

"Benefits of Oil Pastels: A 'Happy Medium'" (blog post) | |

Oil pastels don’t seem to be used nearly as much as other art mediums—they’re not even used as much as chalk/soft pastels. Yet they can deliver amazing results.

Even on the Internet, if you’re looking for information on oil pastels, there’s little about them. Surely, everyone needs to find his or her “happy medium.” For this particular drawing/painting of a carousel horse, based on an original photo, oil pastel was perfect.

"The Benefits of Oil Pastels: A 'Happy Medium'" (blog post) | |
Underpainting done in Faber-Castell Gelatos for Carousel Horse Oil Pastel

First, the underpainting was done with Faber-Castell Gelatos. It probably would have been best to skip the background underpainting so that the softness of the oil pastels would simply create a more blurred look when blended. Still, the whole underpainting worked.

Drawing (or Painting) the Carousel Horse

Depending on what you prefer, oil pastels are either considered drawing or painting. We’ll just use both interchangeably here.

All of the oil pastel portions (almost the entire painting) were blended, either with a blending stump for smaller areas or a make-up wedge for larger areas (as a sidenote, try to use make-up wedges where the holes of the sponge are not as obvious, as these will last longer and are less likely to disintegrate as you go).

The decorations on the saddle, the “bar” areas of the saddle and a few other areas needing more precision were done with conté crayon, and for really small areas, a wax-based colored pencil.

One Major Con of Oil Pastels

The one major disadvantage of oil pastel is that it’s difficult to deal with mistakes. It seems that you either have to somehow work the mistake into the piece (e.g., creating a shadow) or hope that you can blend it out (doesn’t always work). You cannot paint over it; you cannot erase it.

"Benefits of Oil Pastels: A 'Happy Medium'" (blog post) | |
“Carousel Horse.” Oil pastel on mixed-media paper.

Oil Pastels: A Beautiful Art Form

If you’re open, oil pastels are a lovely medium to try. Don’t let the fact that they’re not as commonly used thwart your efforts: They’re totally worth it!


Materials used:

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Oil Pastel Experiment: Trying Gelatos for Underpainting

""Working in Oil Pastel With Gelatos for Underpainting" (blog post) | |

In the last post, we looked at using acrylic paint as an underpainting layer for an oil pastel piece. This time, we’re going to look at a medium that is probably not commonly used for underpainting: Gelatos®.

Faber-Castell’s Gelatos are a stick pigment often used for art journaling. They aren’t pastels, but they do resemble softer oil pastels in their consistency—but they are much more “mushy” and are in fact often compared with lipstick in texture. There are several sets of Gelatos available; for this piece, the pastel color set was used to match the subject: a retro Peaches n’ Cream Barbie.

Gelatos offer a lot of flexibility. They can be used dry (and blend into the paper easily) or can be used with water. Once they’re dry, they don’t budge—which makes them great as an underpainting layer if you want it to stay put. Also, you can draw pencil marks on top of it, and nothing will smear from erasures.

Gelatos aren’t noted to work well on canvas (from my research), so a mixed media paper was used. Mixed media paper also seems to work well with oil pastels, similar to bristol board, in that it offers a smooth surface for blending.

Materials used:

  • Faber-Castell Gelatos: Pastels Set
  • Sennelier and Faber-Castell Oil Pastels
  • Conte Crayon (for fine details)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the underpainting layer. It looked similar to the underpainting done in acrylic paint but was obviously done in pastel colors.

All Pros—and No Cons

The Gelatos made a perfect underpainting layer for the oil pastel! They were applied dry and blended in large areas with a baby wipe; small areas were blended with Q-Tips. At a certain point, it was obvious that the outline of the nose was not drawn in (which I meant to do), so I went in with colored pencil to draw on top of the Gelatos. Even though some mistakes needed to be erased, the Gelatos did not move.

The conte crayon used for finer detail did well when used on top of all the mediums underneath when Gelatos were the underpainting.


""Working in Oil Pastel With Gelatos for Underpainting" (blog post) | |

So the verdict is in! Gelatos are great as an underpainting layer under oil pastels. They’re fun to work with, and are readily available at places like Hobby Lobby and Michaels—plus, you can use coupons there. I will definitely be purchasing more Gelatos for future projects.

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