Retro Trends aren’t Just Nostalgia: Here’s Why

"Why Retro Trends Aren't Just Nostalgia" (blog post) | |

Retro revivals and vintage are all the rage these days — but that may not be just because of nostalgia. In a way, we need the retro.

Don’t believe it? People of all ages jump on the vintage bandwagon. And let’s face it: That’s not really typical. Past generations did everything possible to avoid being “like their parents.” Despite all the technological advances and addictions to screen time the present day has to offer, ironically, going on a blast to the past has somehow become popular.

Why? Past decades oozed creativity.

The 80’s was the last decade that truly had a strong sense of style. When you think “80’s,” you automatically picture big hair, huge earrings, shoulder pads, crazy patterns, members-only jackets, pastel colors and fluorescents…all with 80’s hair metal or synthesizer music playing in your head.

What about the 70’s? You picture bell bottoms, disco, avocado green colors….The list goes on.

So when you picture the decades between the 20’s and 80’s — and the 90’s somewhat, too — you get a very strong sense of the decade’s style and sense of creativity.

What about when you picture today? You think of cell phones…not much else overall. Somehow, things today are just boring.

Let’s take the 80’s as an example in contrast.

The 80’s Look

Prince’s song “U Got the Look” and Roxette’s “The Look” may be talking about specific people in the lyrics — but there’s no doubt that the 80’s look still is in a class of its own.

Netted Tops, Fingerless Gloves, Blue Eyeshadow and Hairbows

"Why Retro Trends Aren't Just Nostalgia" (blog post) | |

People in the 80’s enjoyed awesome clothing. Netted tops started showing up, as well as wearing fingerless gloves and big hair bows just like Madonna’s. Bright blue eyeshadow and red lips gave the 80’s a bold makeup look — even more so with vivid hot pink lipstick. It didn’t look ridiculous back then — it was cool. And looking back on it, it was pretty creative, too.


"Why Retro Trends Aren't Just Nostalgia" (blog post) | |
Loads of Denim, Fedora-Type Hats and Big Earrings

In the 80’s, bigger was better–and this included earrings and shoulders, as evidenced by shoulder pads. Okay, shoulder pads may have been a bit out there, but if you didn’t wear shoulder pads, it might have been just tops that were way too big for your body and slouched all over you. Pair that with some jeans and a jean jacket, and you would be ready to go!

That’s probably not the sleekest look on earth by today’s standards, but it was fun.


Big Hair and Mullets

"Why Retro Trends Aren't Just Nostalgia" (blog post) | |
Don’t be horrified by the sight of a young kid sporting a mullet — in the 80’s, boys wore mullets all the time. Girls (and women) had their hair “blown out” with plenty of teasing to boost and tons of hairspray to hold it together for the entire day. And hold it did!

In the 80’s, people were able to go to the grocery store, to school and work, and everywhere in between with hair that floated all around their head.

What’s funner than all that, at least as far as going about and doing your daily routine?

Those are quite a few examples just of the 80’s look — but there’s more! Next time, we’ll continue looking at how retro days were so much more creative than today. For reals….

Related to “Retrospective.”

Follow Artistically Writing by Email


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.

Follow Artistically Writing by Email

Oil Pastel Experiment: Acrylic Underpainting Pros and Cons

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | |

Oil pastel is perfect for those who want something between drawing and painting — something with more of the control of drawing but some of the flexibility in blending available with painting.

Oil pastels on their own can be very striking — but underpainting can help fill in some of those little spots that show underneath. This is the first experiment with underpainting mediums for pastel and trying to find the right one.

Since canvas worked for some previous oil pastel pieces, canvas seemed to make the most sense when working with acrylic painting as the underpainting; a matte varnish was added over the acrylic to make it easier to blend the oil pastels. So that’s what was done here. An earlier “mini experiment” ended up having no varnish over acrylic underpainting, which ended up a bit rough for blending the oil pastels on top.

The subject was a collector Barbie doll from the 1990’s: Renoir Barbie. Dolls make a great subject because they have a face to work with but aren’t as difficult as real people at the same time. For a piece that’s basically just an experiment, that works perfectly. 🙂

Materials used:

  • Acrylic paint: Grumbacher Academy and Winsor & Newton Galeria
  • Liquitex Matte Varnish (over the acrylic underpainting)
  • Sennelier and Faber-Castell Oil Pastels
  • Conte Crayon (for fine details)
"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | |
Underpainting in acrylic for 1990’s Renoir Barbie oil pastel. Sorry for the glare!

The underpainting for this piece was done in all gray tones, as the finished product was to be black and white.


The oil pastel blended very smoothly and easily with this method. Not only was it easy to work with, but it also made it easier to scrape off mistakes. Unwanted marks came off pretty well without much left behind.


It was difficult to build up white pastel very well with this method; the same went for any semi-transparent or lighter grays. Any sketch lines also showed easily underneath.

Also, conte crayon, which has worked well in the past for fine details on top of oil pastel (e.g., eyelashes) did not want to stick to the pastel when it was on top of the acrylic underpainting.

The finished piece turned out decently, though.

"Oil Pastel Experiment: Underpainting Pros and Cons" (blog post) | |

So overall, this method may work well if using very faint (or no) sketch lines drawn in beforehand. If bold colors only are used, then the transparency when blending wouldn’t be an issue — but clearly, there’s probably a better method out there.

Stay tuned for another experiment….

Follow Artistically Writing by Email