View Full Version : Oil Pastel on Glass

06-12-2013, 12:37 PM
I've always felt that oil pastel would be great on glass, and I recently got around to experimenting with some broken shards off my palette. I like how it moves across the surface, and I feel that this could help with a particular project I have in mind for the future, but I have a few questions:

1) when working with glass, does it make sense to prime it first? I haven't yet, and that's because I like working directly on the glass itself and I like the transparency the glass provides in the end result. But still, what are people's thoughts on this, and is there a good transparent primer that I can use?

2) Fixing...well, any suggestions? I'm slightly annoyed that I can't find my normal fixative anywhere (and since I'm bald, I don't have any hairspray lying around). It seems to me that a fixative may have a different effect on glass than on paper simply because of the slicker surface of glass.

Thanks, and looking forward to any other suggestions folks may have with using glass.

06-12-2013, 11:19 PM
I have no experience painting on glass with oil pastels, but I would think that if you used individual colors, w/o the intention of blending you may be able to do it. Or perhaps use a bit of clear gesso to give you some tooth. Maybe sand the area of the glass first so the gesso can stick.

Sennelier does have a fixative, probably can purchase through Dick Blick's or Jerry's Art Arama.

Sorry I could be of more help. Anyone else have thoughts on this. Mary

06-13-2013, 12:34 AM
I doubt that priming would be needed for glass. The surface should not be damaged by the oils. If you want some tooth you could try sanding the surface. One other thought is that the usual primers are acrylic based which might release from the glass surface. I'm not positive on that but I would not trust priming glass.


06-13-2013, 09:25 AM
I found my fixative buried in a box I wouldn't have put it in (the elves must be at work again) and that seems to work fine. I may need to apply multiple coats, but the first one worked pretty well.

thanks for the suggestions.


06-13-2013, 10:53 AM
Greg, the jury is still out with fixatives - but, to protect the glass painting (oil pastel never fully hardens and will smear long into the future) you may want to spray it.

As mentioned Sennelier has a fixative for oil pastels.

But I also remember this little nugget that someone posted on this forum last year - don't know if it will be helpful to you or not:

Technique for spraying fixative on oil pastels

My technique: If I've painted thickly, impasto style, I still frame under glass. If I've painted with no really thick passages in my work, I'll spray on 4 or 5 coats of Grumbacher final fixative.

Once a light finger rub no longer lifts color, I'll brush on a layer of Golden's self leveling gel. Sometime I will put on a second layer of gel if the first hasn't gone on as smoothly as I would like. This leaves a hard glossy surface.

If I want a mat finish on a particular painting, I'll brush on a coating of acrylic mat medium.

Again, though I don't know the long term effect of using fixatives on oil pastels.

06-14-2013, 12:03 PM
Thanks Mary, that's helpful. Not sure if I can find these products here in Brasil, but it's something.

I'm not sure if I want to put glass over glass, so having it be as dry as possible is something I'm interested in.

06-15-2013, 11:58 AM
Your welcome! Please post a photo of your glass piece (under Oil Pastel Studio section) once you're done so we can all enjoy your work. Looking forward to it.

06-16-2013, 09:27 AM
Will do, best...

07-03-2013, 05:00 PM
Anyone have any thoughts on using varnish? A friend who works with oil pastels suggested it. He works exclusively on paper products (canvas, paper, cardboard) so he didn't know how it would work on glass.

The varnish that I have handy is Corfix Damar Varnish. I'm a little suspect since varnish needs to be added only after an oil painting is completely dry. Since I'm using oil pastel...well, any advice?

07-04-2013, 10:46 PM
Hi, oil pastels never fully dry - they harden a bit, but touch the paint and you'll find you can easily smear the oil pastel even after a couple of years.

If you put varnish on the oil pastel, you might find that after certain amount of time it may start to peel. I'm not sure how many years your friend has been using varnish on oil pastels, I would want to see how the oil pastel and varnish work together after say 5 years. The question would be how has the oil pastel reacted to the varnish - remember oil pastels don't fully dry.

Some people put fixative on their oil pastel paintings once completed, but the jury is still out on whether you'll run into peeling problems a few years down the road. First applied you might think that the surface is nice and hard, because it feels like that - but give it time and you may run into a problem.

There are a lot of differing opinions on this - as you have already found. In my opinion I would try it - but as you have seen your friend has and seems satisfied with his results.

07-05-2013, 08:01 AM
The oil pastels never fully drying is my concern. I want to give a painting to a friend as a wedding gift and I need to mail it internationally. I'm worried about 1) the paint smearing while in the mail and; 2) the paint cracking or peeling later on down the line.

For the first concern, I plan to use wax paper over the painting and put another pane of glass over that. Then I'll tape them tight together and wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap. With this, I'm concerned that maybe things will shift en-route, and I'm also worried that my friend may not remove the wax paper well and may not replace the covering glass well on his end.

Without the wax, I'm afraid the paint may press too much against the other pane of glass. (without the wax paper, I'd send it framed so they wouldn't have to touch it on their end). I'm leaning toward this option.

So it's a dilemma for sure. Protect it for shipping, or protect it for life?

07-05-2013, 10:03 AM
Sorry to butt in but one of the references earlier in this thread sounded like one of my postings on the use of fixative as a final seal.

If you press anything on the oiled surface, you'll get things smushed down and likely smeared, if not smeared, sharp edges will be lost. If there is any thickness at all in the application of your oil pastels there will be smearing if there is contact with this surface during shipping. I ship all my oil pastels framed with a spacer between my oil pastels and the glazing.

You need spacers between your painted surface and the glazing that will go over it. I use the econo spacers (plastic strips about 1/8 inch thick) which has a glue strip on one edge to attach to the glass. That could be a problem in Brazil??? Balsa wood strips glued to the edge of the glass could work (model airplane stuff).

An update on the application of fixatives and varnish to oil pastels: The only fixative that I'm happy with is the Grumbacher Final Fixative. It is most effective on surfaces that have been thinly coated. I've never been happy with the Sennelier fixative, it left my surfaces permanently sticky in some cases.
I've sold some small paintings with just this fixative and no glazing. There were always about 5 coats on thinly applied oil pastel.

I have tried varnishing paintings after the application of final fixative and they have always peeled in relatively short order. However the painted surfaces weren't damaged, and once I peeled off all the varnish, I covered those paintings in glass, with no harm done.

I have a couple of paintings that I've applied acrylic gel to after the final fixative and they are holding up so far. However, I've discovered that in heat or direct sunlight at my art fairs, the surface becomes soft and if they weren't handled properly could possibly be smeared or the gel start to separate,

Even my thinly painted Final Fixative paintings have shown some, not much, softness on really hot days at art fairs.

Yesterday's art fair had 90 F + temperatures and the surface of a couple of my paintings weren't as hard as I would have liked.

Bottom line: my future oil pastels will be framed under glass.

07-05-2013, 10:13 AM
Hi Hal, very nice to hear from you again - missed seeing your posts, hope you'll be around more often. Hope you are well. You are correct I saved a thread of yours that discussed using fixative.

GM, if you are shipping - I agree with Hal with spacers. I used them w/the framing of my oil pastels. They adhere directly onto the glass, giving a slight 1/8" separation between the glass and the painting - so the painting doesn't get ruined by the framing glass.

In your case it's for shipping. I'd take Hal's suggestion and see if you can make spacers that can adhere to the top layer of whatever material you are using to cover and protect the glass painting.

In my comment, "There are a lot of differing opinions on this - as you have already found. In my opinion I would try it - but as you have seen your friend has and seems satisfied with his results." I meant to say, In my opinion I wouldn't try it . . .

07-05-2013, 10:19 AM
As to the painting on glass:

I've known artists who do reverse paintings on glass. In this case you look through the glass to see your painting on the back surface. I seemed to be a bit more complex way to create a painting.

In one case the artist was a soft pastel painter. He covered his glass with clear gesso and painted on the clear gesso. He would then spray a fixative on the surface and could frame is work with a backing board against this surface.

With oil pastels, because the painted surface will be thicker than a soft pastel surface and would definitely adhere to any surface it comes into contact with, I would still put spacer strips between my painted surface to preclude any contact with the oil pastels and another surface.

07-05-2013, 04:34 PM
This is great info folks...much appreciated.

I'll have to look into these spacers to see what I can find here. Out of curiosity, when you don't send it framed, do you intend for the glass to be a permanent part of the piece? In other words, you don't intend for the client to remove the glass or you intend for the client to use your protective glass in the final frame, too.

Well, my fixative just peeled on me, so I'm a bit bummed by that. But I guess I need to find where I can a higher quality fixative. Hal, how many time do you spray your fixative? I sprayed one painting twice in about 10 days. It peeled almost immediately after the second spray.

I also contacted Sennelier to see what they think. I'm hoping I don't get a simple link to their fixative. I guess we'll see.

07-05-2013, 05:43 PM
This is great info folks...much appreciated.

I'll have to look into these spacers to see what I can find here. Out of curiosity, when you don't send it framed, do you intend for the glass to be a permanent part of the piece? In other words, you don't intend for the client to remove the glass or you intend for the client to use your protective glass in the final frame, too.

Well, my fixative just peeled on me, so I'm a bit bummed by that. But I guess I need to find where I can a higher quality fixative. Hal, how many time do you spray your fixative? I sprayed one painting twice in about 10 days. It peeled almost immediately after the second spray.

I also contacted Sennelier to see what they think. I'm hoping I don't get a simple link to their fixative. I guess we'll see.
GM, I wouldn't send an oil pastel unframed or unglazed. Glazing: glass, plexiglass, styrene, etc.

I expect that all my future oil pastels will be shown under glass. I have a few small paintings and one large one displayed without glass. Those were thinly painted and in most cases are fixed with at least five coats of Grumbacher Final Fixative. A couple were coated with acrylic self leveling gel after the applications of Final Fixative and do well as long as kept out of hot direct sunlight. One was more thickly painted and gets uncomfortably soft under direct sunlight. I'm not displaying this one at the moment and will eventually glaze it. It's an odd shape and I'll have to get the glazing custom sized.

My application of fixative is about five thin coats and probably 15 to 20 minutes between coats. If a light rub of the surface brings up color, I will add coats of Final Fixative. However, I've never to use more than five coats so far. Once the surface is dry to the touch I'll apply the next coat. I don't like Sennelier fixative. It has left some of my paintings quite sticky.

Don't spray on thick coats of fixative.

Even oil pastels, I intend to glaze, I will spray on a few coats of final fixative to prevent wax bloom. Wax bloom is unlikely with quality oil pastels but possible with the cheaper brands. Fixative is supposed to help prevent wax bloom.

07-07-2013, 10:16 AM
Hi Greg, Hal has given some really good advice here and I'd be interested to hear what you decided to do.

I've been thinking about shipping at this time of the year with the heat. You might be challenged because of heat associated in mail trucks, sitting in shipping warehouse or on tarmac for plane. In other words plan heat is going to be a big factor, besides that the paint never dries.

The recipient needs to understand that the oil pastel never fully dries, so upon opening the shipped box and seeing the painting they might be tempted to touch it - I'd advice them not to touch the painting they may very well smear it even with a fixative.

An oil pastel artist member of Wetcanvas was in Florida on vacation. While down there painted an oil pastel without it being framed they wrapped the oil pastel with wax paper and placed it into their luggage, with the cloths surrounding the painting. I couldn't believe it when I learned that it arrived un-smeared. The problem for you is, how you'll be packaging up the painting for shipping and how the recipient will be displaying and handling the glass painting.

Spacers: I know yours is a different situation, but I agree that glass on glass with a spacer adhered to one of the pieces of glass would protect your painting. Let me explain, spacers are used when framing a painting and are trying to protect the painting from having the glass touch the painting (oil pastels and soft pastels). A spacer is a strip of Plexiglas 8' long piece and 1/8" width (you can get 3/4" too), with a sticky substance that's covered. The strip is cut into 4 pieces that match the length and width of the glass - peel off and adhere the spacer to the very edge of the glass on all four sides (usually the spacer is the width of the rabbet of the frame so you can't see the spacer when the painting is framed. The spacer basically protects the painting from having the glass touch the painting.

How will the recipient display the painted glass? With oil, acrylics or watercolor this doesn't become an issue. But with oil pastels it does and all your hard work can easily be undone by how they handle the glass and then display it.

You can find framing plexiglas spacers on the internet, by doing a search.

Hope this helps. Mary

07-07-2013, 12:58 PM
Greg, the product I use is plastic, rectangular, tubing that can be cut with heavy duty shears.


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jul-2013/140488-econospace_close.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jul-2013/140488-econospace_detail.jpg

07-07-2013, 01:07 PM
This is the product I use as well.

Thanks for the images Hal.

02-15-2014, 08:33 PM
Here is my experiment base don't his thread. Fluorescent oil pastels on glass. It was just an experiment on clear non coated glass. I with I had a small bead blaster as I would like to try this again with glass that has been lightly bead blasted.

02-15-2014, 08:34 PM
Other side...

02-15-2014, 08:35 PM
With white paper behind it...

02-15-2014, 08:36 PM
One more view...

02-16-2014, 07:53 AM
Hi LJ,

It's definitely a technique that needs playing around with. In my opinion, one needs to apply the paint thick and forget about doing blended detail-work. The paint simply moves too much on the smooth surface to get any kind of mixture going. Sanding does help tremendously, but it also weakens the glass considerably, too.

I started out putting a solid-colored paper behind the glass to give the painting weight, but the more I painted these the more I saw that they worked quite well against a wall, too.

02-16-2014, 10:22 AM
Hi Greg, nice to see you again - you've a nice website. I like how you display your paintings. Didn't know you are from Maine, I lived there all through the 90's and miss it tremendously.

Hi Mike, how cool - very nice portrait. Great to see you experimenting with the glass. I like it w/o the paper behind it - because stand-alone is showing much more of the thick strokes. Very interesting. How did you like painting on the beaded glass ? Did you find it had enough texture for the OPs?

02-17-2014, 12:29 AM
The biggest problem I found is it is very fragile. I had it on my workbench I knocked the edge with a book. The pressure caused the glass to shatter. In seconds my work was destroyed. keep in mind this was a cheap piece of glass that I took out of an old frame while reusing it for my swing set picture. I had the glass sitting there so I started experimenting. It feels like drawing on a dry erase board as any slight wipe will erase your work. The neat part was how the back could be used to add the depth feeling. I actually drew on the back side to add to the effect. I will try this again, but I may try tempered or safety glass. I was inspired today while eating at a French restaurant that had frames their old front door glass logo on the wall with a colored backlight. It would new neat to do the same with oil pastel on glass.


02-17-2014, 07:24 AM
Hi Mary,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm originally from Bar Harbor. The family is still there for the most part. I miss it, too, but the world called so that's where I am.

Mike - Yeah, the glass is fragile when you work with it, even if it's tempered. You just have to be careful.

I haven't been producing anything for a while because everything needs to be framed to be protected. I just don't have the room to let things sit around without a frame and don't have the cash to frame everything. I'll get back into it at some point though.