Oil Pastel Practice & a Road Trip to Loch Earn
I've been working on my oil pastel practice for the last month and was lucky enough to enjoy a road trip to Loch Earnhead this week. There was plenty of stunning scenery to create vignettes from, and I made sure to enjoy a couple of hours each evening before dinner to sketch.
I came up with this Highland Coo, which I think turned out quite fun. This piece was a good reminder as to the benefits of using a medium like oil pastel.
- You can work loose and fast to great effect.
- You can use layers to build tone, colour and texture.
- You can optimise a toothy, coloured paper (I'm enjoying the Strathmore Tan and the Claire Fontaine black mixed-media) by letting the paper come through, adding to the tones and texture.
- You can keep the composition simple, blocking out colour and shapes - pulling back on the detail or finding creative ways to add it in.
- You can experiment with colour, mix new colours with the ones you have for a subtle, unique finish.
- You can use it like paint! Thick, textured strokes, smudged with a finger or tortillon. You can also use turps or baby oil to thin it out and blend.
- You can have lots of fun...
It's messy, bold and highly enjoyable.
I've been using the Mungyo Gallery Artist Soft Pastels, which are a delight. They are soft and creamy and not very 'crumby' at all. I chose Mungyo as it's been a while since I used oil pastel and didn't want to jump into using Sennelier too soon...
There's something very rudimentary about using oil pastel. Harking back to being a kid at school and using the student Crayola pastels. I hated them! The artist-grade pastels are a completely different experience and well worth experimenting with. For me, what makes a great oil pastel is a soft, creamy consistency, one that's easy to blend. This way, you can create layers and texture just as you would with a paint like acrylic and oil.Oil pastels were created originally for Pablo Picasso in 1949 by Henri Sennelier, Gustave Sennelier's son. Picasso was searching for colours that he could use on any surface without any special preparation of coating. Less faff equals an easier path to getting into your creative flow, I guess.
It took about a year for Sennelier to develop the first-ever professional-quality oil pastel. Picasso bought 40 of each of the 48 colours that were created. Soon, it became a sensation and popular choice of medium for other artists, including notable master's such as Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin.
If you're thinking about trying out a new and accessible medium, then I highly recommend having a go with oil pastels. They're an ideal choice for letting go of 'perfection' and going with the flow.
You'll be having fun in no time!