Experiments with Oil Pastels:
I have been continuing my experiments with oil pastels and I am finding it fairly satisfying, although I do want to work larger when I get back to the studio.
I have limited space to work at home, so I thought I would try working with pastels instead of paint, as I have found oil pastels can provide a quick, painterly effect.
First I invested in a range of pastels from Sennelier, which have high pigment and are very soft and easy to blend. I found I needed a slightly harder version of pastel to create sharper edges and more detail, so I have bought a set of Cras-Pas Specialist square sticks. I find a combination of the two gives me more options.
Materials and media used:
I used the oil pastels in combination with sketching pencils, blending sticks (paper and silicone), charcoal sticks and some black ink and a black Sharpie Pen. I am working mostly on Canson 160g, coloured pastel paper, A3 size or Clairefontaine 250g Grained white paper, which is good for mixed media. I also had low tack masking tape, to attach the paper on to a board and some Sennelier spray fixative.
I began with some studies of views from my windows at home. I already knew the views very well, but appreciated them more after studying them in detail. I tried to pick interesting weather and lighting effects, at different times of the day and night. I found I was particularly interested in the spaces between buildings and the overlapping shapes receding in to the distance. As I looked out over the rooftops and streets around my home in Chagford, Devon I found I had grown a new fondness and appreciation for the views that I see every day.
What shall I try next?
My next stage involved some local Dartmoor landscapes. I was inspired by Anita Reynolds (Newlyn School of Art) to try abstracting the landscape. I divided up my page with masking tape and tried to see what range of marks could be achieved with the limited materials I had to hand. I will do more with this when I get back to the studio and can incorporate acrylic paint/collage with the oil pastels.
I have been trying to capture the movement and reflective qualities of water and the cold Winter scenes on Dartmoor.
How do I mix up new colours?
I was able to build up different colours by overlapping strokes side by side and blending. It can take a few layers to get it right. When it goes wrong it is possible to rub/scrub out an offending area back to the paper layer, but you have to be careful not to damage the paper.
Temperature affects the firmness of oil pastels, when warm they flow more easily and cooled they are more firm.
Can you mix oil pastels with other media?
I really enjoy mixing up different media. But it is important to remember the rule ‘fat over lean’. You can use acrylic, watercolour, pencil, markers etc. UNDER oil pastels. But is it not possible to paint over them as the oiliest medium should always be on top. Oil pastels do not dry, so they need to be on the top layer.
I found some black ink in my desk drawer and decided to incorporate it – It flows and fills in gaps between the pastel areas. I used pencils and other media to scratch back into the surface of the pastels which reveals the colours below.