View Full Version : Erasing oil pastels?

05-31-2003, 11:20 AM
Having been inspired by some recent posts on this forum to dig out my oil pastels, I had a go at a spot of figure drawing with it and came up with this result:

While I'm reasonably happy with the overall result, I think the proportions are slightly astray in places. In particular the right shoulder is too square, and the right buttock sticks out a bit too far as well.

I've thought of three possible ways of correcting these problems (other than scrapping the picture and starting again) and was hoping some of the oil pastel experts could advise which of these, or something completely different, might work best.

The first idea would be simply to draw over the offending areas with the background colour. I don't, however, think that will be possible without making the background quite thick and imposing. I'd like to keep it light, as it currently is in most places.

My second idea is to try using white spirit, or turps etc., to rub off the bits I don't want. I think this might be the best way, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get enough off.

The third possibility that occurs to me is to try scraping off the pastel with a knife or razor blade. I've had limited success using a painting knife on small areas, but I'm not sure that I'd be able to get enough off without using a sharper blade at the risk of damaging the paper.

05-31-2003, 01:43 PM
I'd say do them all but in reverse order. But it will change the way your picture looks, and you might have to turp the whole thing to maintain unity. It will look more painterly.
I've been gessoing watercolor paper before putting o.p.s on, and it's easier to "erase" because the pigment doesn't sink into the surface as much.

06-02-2003, 06:18 AM
Thanks sundiver.

I'll give it a try. Even if it goes horribly wrong it won't be a major disaster, as I'll have learned some useful things about both figure drawing and the use of oil pastels, which is what I was aiming for.

06-02-2003, 09:59 PM
I like the sketchy look of this.

Buttock...I love that word.

06-03-2003, 06:37 AM
Glad you like it maverick (both the picture and the word :)).

I had a go at altering it in the way suggested by sundiver. I was reluctant to go too far with scraping it (using a craft knife this time) as the paper was fairly thin, but after some scraping and rubbing with white spirit the image was faint enough that I was able to redraw the offending parts without having to go too thick. I've stopped now because I don't want to overwork it.

It seems that oil pastels are much more limited than many other media (such as graphite or acrylic paints) for correcting mistakes. On the other hand, they are no worse than many others such as ink and watercolour paint.

06-03-2003, 09:10 AM
You'll find they are much less limited if you gesso your surface first! :)

06-03-2003, 09:23 AM
Would ordinary acrylic gesso (or even plain old white acrylic paint) work ok for that?

06-03-2003, 11:33 PM
I use ordinary acrylic gesso. I've been putting it on watercolor paper, mainly because I have lots of it (wc paper) around the house.I just ordered something online called Golden Pastel Gesso.
Dunno about using acrylic paint...it might be a bit slick. Gesso has a bit of tooth.

06-04-2003, 07:08 AM
I guess the best thing would be to experiment. I have some white acrylic paint so I'll give that a bash first (it occurs to me that you could also prepare coloured grounds with acrylics). If it doesn't work I'll have to get hold of some gesso and use that.

Obviously I should try it first on some small piece which isn't an essential project. :D

06-04-2003, 08:37 AM
I've used acrylic to underpaint or make a colored ground for soft pastel, but only a thin wash. I doubt if it would seal the surface that way.
Let us know what happens!

06-17-2003, 07:25 AM
I finally got round to acquiring some acrylic gesso (well, acrylic primer, I'm not sure if it's the same stuff or not), coating a sheet of cartridge paper and having another go with the oil pastels.

The result of this first attempt is the following picture:

I found that the acrylic base did make an immense difference to the blending/erasing capabilities of the pastels. I definitely prefer this surface for working on, so I'll probably gesso nearly all my paper before using oil pastels in future. Presumably you could also use the pastels on other surfaces which have been gessoed, though I haven't yet tried that.

Thanks again to sundiver for the idea.