The Benefits of Oil Pastels: A “Happy Medium”

"Benefits of Oil Pastels: A 'Happy Medium'" (blog post) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

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) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
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) | ArtisticallyWriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com
“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:

Follow Artistically Writing by Email

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cropping Art Really Can Make a Difference

"Cropping Art Really Can Make a Difference" by Brenna Pierson | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

At times, it is tough to crop a drawing or painting if the vision was to have an image as a whole. After all, the initial scene is what prompted the piece for the artist, at least in many cases.

Sometimes, though, when a final piece just does not look “right,” it really can help to crop it. That was the case with a recent palette knife painting. The painting was done in acrylics with mainly a palette knife — a great look for something more impressionistic.

This acrylic painting was done from a photo taken at the seashore and depicts a lady and either her daughter or granddaughter standing at the edge of the sea, gazing out at its waves.

Copying the scene as closely as possible to its original became a bit of a challenge because the water stretched all the way from the sand to the top of the photo — there was no horizon or sky shown in the original photograph. So when translated into a painting, it’s a bit unclear when analyzing it whether the top area is the sky with clouds or sea foam on more waves.

"Art the Seashore" (acrylic on canvas) | Featured in the Blog "Cropping Art Really Can Make a Difference" by Brenna Pierson | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com(The image before it was cropped)

That, of course, was a bit of a bummer — especially because we expect to see some skyline above the ocean. Luckily, cropping the image lessens the awkward effect.

"Art the Seashore" (acrylic on canvas) | Featured in the Blog "Cropping Art Really Can Make a Difference" by Brenna Pierson | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com(“At the Seashore,” acrylic on canvas: final version)

So though this one didn’t turn out perfectly, cropping did make a difference so that it wasn’t a complete loss. It does look more abstract than intended — but there’s always a lesson to learn, isn’t there?

 

Follow Artistically Writing by Email

 

 

Oil Pastel Experiment: Trying Gelatos for Underpainting

""Working in Oil Pastel With Gelatos for Underpainting" (blog post) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

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) | artisticallywriting.com | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.com

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.

Follow Artistically Writing by Email