View Full Version : Oil Pastel on Glass

06-30-2013, 12:55 PM
I recently asked a few questions about oil pastel on glass and someone asked me to post up my experiments. Here are the first two. Both are self-portraits. I used Sennelier oil pastels.

These aren't meant to serious works. I'm only playing now to get a feel for how things will work. One thing I need to discover more is if I'll need to use a background. These photos are taken with backgrounds as you can see. I'm not sure I like that at the moment, and I'm not yet sure how I can get the glass to be opaque where I've painted to make the image feel solid, so to speak. In any case, I think these aren't that bad if they have a good background at the very least. At the moment, I only have a limited amount of background colors to use to show the photos.

I prefer the blue one over the red one.



06-30-2013, 01:28 PM
Hello. . . interesting experiments. I would think that the glass might give some depth to the painting, can sorta see that in the first one.

I wonder though if there was any heat, like a hot environment or sun shining on it, would the oil pastel melt and smear on the glass?

Pat Isaac
06-30-2013, 05:29 PM
I do like the first one, love the strokes and rich impasto feel.
I wonder if a coat of gesso might be beneficisl first to give the glass some tooth. Never having worked on glass, I'm not sure.


07-01-2013, 12:19 PM
I actually forgot to sand the glass first. I need to remember to do that next time.

Pat Isaac
07-01-2013, 01:12 PM
That would work. Looking forward to your next one.


07-01-2013, 04:30 PM
I tried oil pastel on glass last year and coated one side with Mod Podge for texture. I ended up using a stencil rather than trying to draw freehand and reversed, lol. It turned out well, but I somehow ended up not getting a picture of it ... and it was given away as a gift.

Blending was tricky, even with the tooth provided by Mod Podge. Because there were some areas of slightly incomplete coverage, I put a crinkled foil backing on it.

07-01-2013, 10:20 PM
Interesting effects! I like it, very wild look to both of them. I like the background on the red one, the break between the two strong colors is cool. Both of them have a lot of vigor.

07-01-2013, 11:53 PM
HI Greg, so glad to see your pieces posts - nice work. They are both exciting, bringing a unique surface to apply oil pastels - who knew glass. Very nice vibrant oil pastel color choices, it's interesting and will be fun to see what direction you take this.

I'm with you and like the first one (the blue guy) best - although the face is a little intimidating, he has a powerful gaze and makes a statement. The background I'm totally sold on yet - I like the idea of having some level of background. #2 background is too much and the guy gets lost, #1 is getting closer to what adds interest, but doesn't take away from your subject. Perhaps just a stroke or two of complementary colors from the blue shirt in one of the quadrants - just an idea.

Interesting art and nice to see you at the oil pastel forum. Welcome!

07-02-2013, 10:21 AM
Hi Mary and all those with comments, good points and thanks for the feedback. I meant for the gaze to be powerful. I wanted it that way, so I'm happy to hear your reaction. I am disappointed in the subject's right eye (viewer's left eye). Drawing is not my forte, so it's just something to work on.

I suppose I could post some photos of various backgrounds on the first one, just to show the differences. I actually preferred a black background on the first one, but my gf didn't like it. For me, I prefer bold colors (and bold compositions / gazes / perspectives, etc.), and maybe it was too bold for her. I'll post up some variations later today.

07-05-2013, 05:40 PM
The most recent:


Pat Isaac
07-05-2013, 05:49 PM
I really do like your painterly strokes of color and that background works well. This person is at an art show and its nice that you have picked up some of pictures colors on the face.


07-06-2013, 07:47 AM
Thanks Pat. Actually, the person is in my room. hehe

Comments are appreciated, as always.

07-06-2013, 01:55 PM
I love this new piece Greg - I'm assuming the figure is female, gee I hope so because her face is motherly w/a beautiful caring appeal to it. Great skin tones and effective use of light vs shadows on her. What is the background?

Wonderful work!

07-06-2013, 03:27 PM
This latest one is very cool! I like the strong personality of the figure and the way all the art on the walls gives her some context. I think that's natural for anyone who paints to start filling the walls.

07-07-2013, 03:42 PM
Are we looking through the glass, or at the surface of the glass in these paintings? An interesting technique; hope you'll try the sanded/frosted glass and show us that too.

07-08-2013, 10:04 AM
Thanks again to all for the comments. Always greatly appreciated.

Mary - Right now the background is a simple dark yellow pastel paper. I really need to get to the store to buy different colored paper for the background of other pieces.

Lamar - you're looking at the surface. I'm painting directly on the surface of the glass. And this latest one is with a sanded surface already. The first two above were not sanded. Sanding the glass really seemed to work well. I used 221T sandpaper (for metal). I didn't even need to sand the whole surface.

To make the edges clear, I taped off the border first and sanded the inside.

07-25-2013, 10:43 PM
A couple of the newest ones.

I've been working mostly on glass that has been sanded, and that's worked well. I also did one where I put a later of acrylic paint on the glass first, and then worked the pastels onto the paint. That worked quite nicely as well, but I much prefer without so far.

Anyway, it's evolving:



07-25-2013, 10:45 PM
A couple more:



Pat Isaac
07-26-2013, 08:53 AM
Love watching these emerge. They remind me a little of encaustic painting. I especially like the figurative ones.


07-26-2013, 09:47 AM
Greg these pieces are really neat, it's interesting to see what you are doing with glass. My favorite is the house, the lighting makes this piece glow.

07-26-2013, 05:39 PM
These are really neat. Do they smear because they're on glass? I like the eeriness ... maybe milky appearance .... the distortion of the shapes.

On a humorous note, do you frame these behind cardboard to keep them safe? :D

07-27-2013, 08:00 AM
Hey folks, glad you like them. For me it's hit or miss at the moment. I think the house turned out well, as did the portrait of the couple. I also like my self portrait, but other than that I think I still need to work more to improve.

They definitely smear more when I don't use sandpaper on the glass beforehand. However, they don't smear as much as you'd think. After about a week after painting them I can touch them and get some residue on my finger, but not a lot. I haven't been using a fixative because it's still difficult to get my hands on a good one here in Brasil. The one I had used before peeled.

I'm a little worried about smearing later, too. Right now it is pretty cold here (about 32F at night, and the houses don't have heat). I believe this is allowing the pastels to harden rather quickly. I don't know what will happen when it gets warm. I'm nervous about this.

Some of these are protected behind glass. Others are just left open (I'm not planning to frame them). I guess we'll see how things develop over the next few months (if the pastel moves when the painting is upright, if it melts when it gets warm, how much dust collects on the uncovered paintings, etc).

07-27-2013, 01:59 PM
Hi Greg, I live in TX and it gets pretty warm around here.

For sure you'll have dust get on the oil pastels - just the way it is, and if they are hanging out in the open there is no avoiding it unless they are protected by glass. Then you'll have the problem of removing the dust particles.

Once it gets warm the glass is going to heat up, don't know if that will affect the stability of the painting - where will these glass panels be hanging? You're not going to know until your warmer temps come back. My studio is at 80 degrees (summer) and 74 winter - has not affected my paintings, but they weren't painted on glass. There is no two ways about it, the glass will get warm - hopefully it won't have a negative effect on these pieces.

I'm glad to read that sandpapering has worked. Looking forward to seeing more of your pieces.

07-28-2013, 01:48 PM
I'm actually not sure where they'll be hanging. The ones that I'm keeping for myself will be hanging wherever I put them (out of the sun for sure). But I've actually sold three commissions (the house is one and the other two haven't been done yet). One will be in southern California and the other I think in Iowa or Missouri (not sure).

When I give them the painting I fully plan on giving them a letter explaining how oil pastels work and how to take care of the painting long-term.

07-29-2013, 03:19 PM
Most recent: (I think it's the best one yet)


07-29-2013, 11:46 PM
Greg, you are right - this is the best one yet. The musician is showing really well here, nice work on his head and skin tones, the glasses have good form and great reflections, good light and shadows.

The only area that bothers me is the lighted area under and behind the microphone. I understand why you did it, allowing the microphone to show up because the background is dark - I'm wondering if that aspect of the right-side wall could be lighter than the left-side wall so that it's not so abrupt in that one spot - it takes away from the rest of the painting. An idea, but how about getting some additional light going up up the back wall, going from mid-light to dark so it's gradual. W/o some perspective it attracts too much attention away from your focal point.

It's an awesome piece of art!

07-30-2013, 10:26 AM
Hi Mary,

I've thought about that, but the more I think about it, the more I think the light works best in this way. I feel that if I add light to the right wall then I'll need to add light to the left as well, and I want the blue to really stand out (that and I think his skin stands out under the lights, too).

Still, it's definitely a suggestion I thought of. I decided to keep it because my focal point always goes to the mouth and glasses area. If I pay attention to looking at it, I always return there. I guess this just shows how differently people view paintings. I was always worried about the shadows around the mouth as being too blurred, but it worked in the end. I'm happy with it.

Next up, a flamenco dancer in class and three pairs of flamenco shoes. I'm looking forward to them.

08-01-2013, 08:35 PM
why not utilize 'plexi' instead of glass.....it would be easy to rough up the surface and be a lot lighter in weight.....also the pastel should bond easier....just a thought.....


Pat Isaac
08-02-2013, 08:47 AM
That's true, Blue - hi BTW- I've used [;exi for monprinting with oil inks and the oil adheres fine, also tried a mono with oil pastlel.


08-02-2013, 09:56 AM
I like the fragility of glass, to be honest. I've thought about plexiglass, but glass just seems to be the right choice for me at the moment. Maybe I'll do plexi in the future, though.

Here are the shoes:


08-02-2013, 02:07 PM
Gregg - wow, it's a real stunner! There is a glow to this work that is fantastic - the further back I stand from my screen the more the painting strikes me.

Absolutely great work on the light and shadow colors - really outstanding. The colors are vibrant and I can only image how this beautiful piece shows with light coming through.

I think this is my favorite! Congratulations ~

08-03-2013, 10:18 AM
Thanks Mary, appreciated. Some of these turn out better than others. For example, today's attempt is only OK in my mind.

However, one thing that I've noticed, and I'm not entirely sure what this means exactly, is that some look better without a solid background and some look better with one. The portrait of the singer above really needed a black background. This one is much better without anything behind the glass. I'm curious to discover what this means, but I will say that I prefer it if I can get it to be without a background. So I guess I have some playing around to do.

Also, the colors are much more vibrant when I turn things around (i.e. - look at the painting by looking through the glass first instead of at the paint first), but it seems to be lacking something. Not sure what it is exactly, but it's definitely better.

(I tried uploading today's picture, but it wasn't uploading for some reason) I'll try again tomorrow. It's on my site, too, here: La campana de la Basílica de Santo Domingo (http://www.gregmasonburns.com/uploads/1/7/5/5/17559949/367172_orig.jpg?232)

Pat Isaac
08-03-2013, 11:00 AM
This is a stunner....I love paintings of shoes, something about them and those red ones are a joy.


08-03-2013, 09:21 PM
Really like the one of the shoes. . . the colors together just are so right. Nice composition. That one is by far my favorite. Very cool. What size is it?

08-04-2013, 06:25 PM
Thanks again. Yeah, this one worked out well. The size is 22 x 32.5 cm, and it's now framed with a black, box frame.

I think things are coming together.

I'm having a difficult time uploading one particular image. Not sure why. It's one that I linked above (which doesn't go to my site, but it does go to just the image).

In any case, this is a recent one. As you can see, I'm having a very difficult time doing small details. I end up cutting a point into my pastels to get at small areas, but where the pastel will land is often a mystery to me. Any suggestions?


08-04-2013, 10:59 PM
Nice work Greg, this is a good piece. I like the motion - shows well with the billowing skirt.

Do you use clay or color shapers - they help to move oil pastels into tight spaces. I find them to be very effective, at least they seem to give me more control over where the OP goes.

I have a question, I'm curious why did you start painting on glass?

Pat Isaac
08-05-2013, 09:49 AM
I do like the whole gesture of the this pose, Greg. Nice. Have you tried clay shapers as Mary suggests. They do work well for small areas.


08-05-2013, 12:52 PM
You know, I've been looking for clay shapers here in the art stores and haven't been able to find them very well. I've been using a standard rubber eraser to be honest, and by carving out sharp points in the pastel itself. I'll give a better look next time I'm at the better store (which isn't easy for me to get to).

Glass, well, I'll be honest with you and just say that it came naturally to me the first time I picked them up. The idea just seemed to fit. That's about it. I need to play some more, and do some experiments with the bad paintings in the sun, but I think I'm getting to a point where I can start advertising these.

08-06-2013, 03:39 AM
Since these are on glass, is it framed beneath paint? :D

There are some really good ones in here. The ones I like the most are the shoes, the two girls and Robert in the room with all the art on the wall. (Robert has an androgynous face, this one reminded me of him). :heart:

08-06-2013, 09:05 AM
Greg, if you can't find clay shapers try this idea. Take the standard rubber eraser and slice a chunk making it a triangle so you have a thin point (which will help move pastel for thin lines, and then make a thin edge on one of the sides so that you can push in OPs to tiny areas.

I read something about this, somewhere and I think that if your standard rubber eraser is sturdy enough you could get a homemade clay shaper. Just an idea.

08-06-2013, 11:17 AM
heh - "Robert" is actually "Nivea" - who is my girlfriend. She was the model for this one, and it's painted in my room. It's funny because she has her hair pulled back and people don't recognize her in the painting right away. When she says that it's her with her hair pulled back people recognize her. I won't tell her about Robert though. That may give her a heart attack! :lol:

Mary - thanks, I'll give that a try. Actually, I have a spare gum eraser around that is obviously quite easy to form into points. I hadn't thought about that, but maybe that can work.

08-07-2013, 10:10 AM
Turns out I was able to find some rubber ones. We'll see how they go.

08-07-2013, 12:08 PM
GMBurns2000, just my opinion but I think you should try to start doing this work on plexiglass so that it can be more permanent. It is interesting, something that I've never seen before.

08-08-2013, 02:01 AM
Glass, well, I'll be honest with you and just say that it came naturally to me the first time I picked them up. The idea just seemed to fit.

And what a good idea it was! Your OP on glass experiments look so fresh and lively.

08-08-2013, 10:52 AM
OK, well, if I can find some good-quality plexi then I'll give it a shot. I'm a little worried about the lack of transparency on the plexi, though, but maybe I haven't seen good, clear plexi yet.

Thanks Lamar. Appreciated.

BTW - I'm exhibiting my still life paintings now (oil on canvas) but I brought some of the OP on glass to the opening night. LOTS of people commented.

Pat Isaac
08-08-2013, 10:55 AM
That's just great! Good luck with the exhibit.


08-09-2013, 09:49 AM
So tried working with the color shapers recently. They're the light grey ones and rubber. They worked at times, but most of the time they simply picked the pastel off the glass (basically just cleaned the glass outright). Maybe the black (harder) shapers will work better.

In any case, you can see that I'm still struggling with details. I wanted to put and eye and mouth on her to give her a facial expression, but that seemed undoable last night. Practice, practice, practice...


08-09-2013, 10:15 AM
Greg, your exhibit news is great! Very happy for you and hope that it leads to lots of opportunities.

I don't know if the clay shapers are going to be any better. What you might want to do is take a few minutes and a spare piece of glass and try as many things you have laying around to see if any will give you the ability to move OPs, but not scrape them off the surface. Maybe something that is a dull piece of metal, so it won't scratch the surface, that will allow you move the pastel? Plastic or rubber seems to do opposite of what you need the tool to do.

Your latest painting is very nice. Good movement and energy comes across. Her right forearm looks toostraight, anyway you can put slight curve to give it a little form?

08-19-2013, 09:49 PM
Haven't updated in a while. Here is a new one. Good news is that commissions are starting to come in. Happy about that. Up to seven the past few weeks. Fingers are crossed this continues.

Uma Porta

Pat Isaac
08-20-2013, 08:44 AM
Congratulations on all those commissions.
Nice work on this door and I do like the abastract feel to it.


08-20-2013, 09:42 AM
Hi Greg, Definitely like the close-up side view of the door - works well.

Congratulations on your commissions - you really are on a roll with the glass. Exciting and who knows where this will lead - best wishes for continued success.

Looking forward to the next piece.

08-21-2013, 09:24 AM

Pretty happy with it all. Fingers are crossed it continues.

09-16-2013, 11:10 AM
Been a while since I last posted up. Been busy, but I've managed a few paintings since then. I feel I'm making progress.

I also did a recent interview with the local newspaper regarding this. That link is here (http://www.gregmasonburns.com/1/post/2013/09/interview-on-gazeta-do-povo.html). It's in Portuguese (sorry), but I provided a google translate link into English for the article. Both the video and article are short. I'm really excited about this exposure. It hasn't done anything for me yet, but at least it's out there. The newspaper is a major paper in Brasil, too.

Anyway, here are some of the paintings:





09-16-2013, 12:04 PM
Congratulations Greg on the article and video - it's wonderful that you've received recognition for your beautiful work. People gravitate to new techniques and your pieces are drawing lots of great attention.

Beautiful new paintings - I'm partial to your portraits, they're captivating. I really like the textures you achieve and for the little boy it's perfect for his hair and the close-up view. Nice landscape - don't usually see one from you, I'll bet it's gorgeous on glass.

Pat Isaac
09-16-2013, 04:59 PM
Great news about the article and video. Exposure is always good.
Nice collection of new painting. I also really like the the portraits, especially the little boy.


09-17-2013, 12:25 PM
Thanks. Actually, I have a couple of other landscapes but they are two big to upload here (more than 2MB), so I just don't bother.

I've now sold about six or seven of these (including the two portraits above). A couple are going as gifts (including the landscape above). So far only sales to people I know, but I guess that's how it goes in the beginning. My Etsy site is silent (btw - I really don't think their advertising works, but that's just me).

I'll post back again in a couple of months with more updates. Thanks again!

10-25-2013, 09:42 PM
Some bad news. I recently traveled to the US and three of the nine paintings I brought with me broke in transit. The funny thing is that all three paintings broke but not the protective glass.

I wonder if sanding the glass had an effect. Looks as if it's time to start looking for clear gesso to help keep the transparency.

10-27-2013, 02:09 PM
Oh Greg, that is too bad - sorry to hear. What a shame, maybe it depends on how much sanding you do. You'll have to experiment to see.

Try Liquitex clear gesso - I like it and dries almost 100% transparent, just a slight milky cast (ever so slight, but it's there).

Keep us posted on what you find and do to make sure the panels don't break.

Pat Isaac
10-27-2013, 05:25 PM
Oh dear, what a shame. I do hope you can find a solution.


10-28-2013, 09:18 AM
Yeah, just gotta find the clear gesso here somewhere. Might be able to import it, but I think that's going to cost even more.