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View Full Version : I need some basic help...


Mumma4x
04-02-2004, 12:26 AM
I've had some OPs given to me, but they're quite old. Do they go bad so they don't work right anymore? I tried playing with them tonight, but they were just like crayons in how they went onto the paper & how they felt. I can't get them to blend with my finger at all & they're waxy in texture. Is there something else I should be using, or are they just no good? I know I sound clueless, but I normally only work with the pencils, so this is new territory for me.

I'm dying to know how the people in these forums get their amazingly detailed, beautiful portraits & pictures done with OPs since I couldn't do it. Maybe it's the brand or type, too. I have some other OPs that blended easily. I should probably stick with them if I want to play with the stick type, eh? Help a clueless girl out please? LOL!

jackiesimmonds
04-02-2004, 12:35 AM
Oil Pastels ARE waxy, and they do look like crayons when they go down, and you cannot blend with your fingers like you can with soft pastels. There are techniques to learn, and if you look at some of the OP threads in the "Library" at the top of the main pastels forum page, you will find lots of hints and tips.


Jackie

Dyin
04-02-2004, 12:51 AM
I don't find any of the good brands to be waxy in the least...they are oily or like butter and easy to spread, and they blend well with fingers or tools or turp. Please...they do not look like crayons when they go down if they are a good brand. Jackie...what on earth brand did you try??? I have gotten excellent results with OPS and my very first were a cheap set...now those weren't as bad as some I've read about like these, just good enough to get me to try the better ones.
Check these threads out...
done with Senneliers on Fabriano Tiziano paper-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=118546

one of Mo's great pastels-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=126465&highlight=oil%20pastel

these are in the library but check out sundiver's landscapes and eileenclaire's lovely children and there's many others here too. None look like crayon work.
It takes a little bit to get used to them being more of a 'wet' medium. It helps if you have a good support...one of the easiest is Art spectrum colorfix...a sanded paper. I do believe you'll always get the best overall results from artist grade materials....which ones did you use that blended easily? I've had a long day but will come back to this thread tomorrow and I'm sure some other OPers will come on and help...I'll try to be more helpful then!

Laura Shelley
04-02-2004, 01:14 AM
I found some old oil pastels out in my garage recently, and yes, they do seem to go bad. These ones were hard and pasty and not usable. The oils and waxes and so on don't really dry the way oil paints do, but they certainly seem to set up with time. Soft pastels don't contain anything that can change significantly while they are still in the stick, so I see fifty-year-old sets for sale sometimes! But old oil pastels should probably just get junked. Treat yourself to something nice! :)

Khadres
04-02-2004, 07:21 AM
And don't forget...oil pastels, QUALITY ones anyway, haven't been around that long! If the set you were using dated back even to the 80's, those things WERE awful and the very reason I didn't think I'd ever like OPs. Even the cheap ones I just got are miles better than the first I tried years ago. My only complaint, so far, is their lack of opaqueness, the very thing I love about soft pastels. I'm definitely going to have to go at OPs differently, more like painting in oils, I think. But yeah, I think it would be wise to junk anything that's been hanging around for years, especially if they were stored somewhere like a hot, then cold, then hot garage.

SweetBabyJ
04-02-2004, 09:36 AM
Dunno if good ones go bad- I had a German set I was given by Oma (the "Grandmother" who lived across the street) when I lived there in the late 80's, and she indicated they'd belonged to her son when he was in school (he was by then in his 50's). They worked just fine. True, they were "harder" than soft pastels, and, "waxy" isn't a bad description, there was a different technique to using them is all, but I was able to finger blend once they'd "warmed-up" a bit from the friction of laying them down on the paper, and I had no problems. My son has them now and uses them without complaint. I suppose it's all according to- give it a try and see.

Mumma4x
04-02-2004, 09:44 AM
Thank you everyone! I'm going to junk them. I'm sure it's because they're old & cheap. Most of the sets were bought at a regular store since the pricetags are still on them, so I don't think they're professional quality by any stretch of the imagination.

The price tag on the box of 12 was $1.79, so that may reveal just how old they are, ROFL! The brands are Duro for a couple of the sets, and Greenland Studios for the other, bigger sets. I think the GS ones were good quality in their day & have gone bad. I'm assuming these are all from the 70s.

Also, the brand that I have that works really well.... well, it turns out those are W&N! I had no idea. They were given to me by my SIL. She got them while in therapy to use as art therapy. Obviously, they got her a really good brand to use. She isn't artistic, though, and passed them on to me. No wonder they work so well, huh? LOL

Dyin, your description of good pastels is perfect... they're like butter. I'm going to play with them today!

Thanks again, everyone!

Mumma4x
04-02-2004, 09:46 AM
Dunno if good ones go bad- I had a German set I was given by Oma (the "Grandmother" who lived across the street) when I lived there in the late 80's, and she indicated they'd belonged to her son when he was in school (he was by then in his 50's). They worked just fine. True, they were "harder" than soft pastels, and, "waxy" isn't a bad description, there was a different technique to using them is all, but I was able to finger blend once they'd "warmed-up" a bit from the friction of laying them down on the paper, and I had no problems. My son has them now and uses them without complaint. I suppose it's all according to- give it a try and see.

You replied while I was typing out my reply. I may give them a shot. I just don't think they were good quality to begin with. I thought I'd use some of the different colors to touch up my cat painting, for instance, and I just about ruined it. I will check out the threads about blending & see if there's any hope for them before I toss them, though, especially the ones that seem to be a better brand.

Marc Sabatella
04-02-2004, 12:11 PM
I don't find any of the good brands to be waxy in the least


Well, perceptions may differ, but speaking strictly in terms of the actual physical composition, every single brand of oil pastel out there is mostly wax, with only a little oil. But of course that oil does make all the difference in how it feels. The cheapest & least oily brands will feel and go down most like crayons, and the pricier and more oily brands will feel and go down comparatively more smoothly and less like crayons. But still, for someone used to soft pastels, any oil pastel is going to feel and go down more like a crayon than any other art material that might come to mind. That includes OP's such as includes Holbein, Sennelier, Caran D'Ache, etc. At least the first few strokes seem crayony. Once you've worked on a painting for any hour or so, it starts filling up the paper better, which is why a finished piece can look like a soft pastel or oil painting.

I would suspect that the original poster probably has very cheap quality oil pastels, and that age is not so much the issue. But also, expect them to blend in the same way that soft pastels do is a mistake. They blend differently. If you really want smooth blending, you will have to work harder at it. But then, I'd suggest you are using the wrong medium - one of the joys of oil pastel is how it looks *without* this type of blending. You do have to be patient and get enough of it on the paper that it starts to lose that crayon look, though.

BTW, regarding the translucency - I agree this takes some getting used to. It's actually how I got in the habit of working on white, since otherwise light colors looked dull from paper color shining through the actual strokes. When I discovered how nice white really was after having avoided it for years because everyone says white is so bad, I started using it for soft pastel as well. One trick for keeping nice lights in oil pastel - identify the lightest areas before beginning and put white oil pastel down first (preferably over white or at least a very light colored paper). The idea being that as you work color over color, and perhaps want to scrape away some color to refine a shape or get ready to add more color on top, you can only scrape back to the first layer of oil pastel - you can never get back to the paper itself. But if your first layer is white, then you really can scrape back to a pure white and then lay new color on top. If your first layer is anything but white, you'll be stuck with that color underneath your lightest lights, keeping them from looking as light as they might.

Dyin
04-02-2004, 12:25 PM
Mark, that is excellent advice about laying down the white first, I often do that myself. Also I have a color chart I did on black with my Holbeins and there is good opaque coverage except for the fact that some tooth shows through because it was a rough paper. I think pressure makes a difference too.
I do have a question though...I am sure that I've read that the better brands do not use wax as a binder but inert oils alone...I'd have to go searching for their materials to see which brands specifically...can you tell us where you got the information on the composition???

Marc Sabatella
04-02-2004, 12:34 PM
I do have a question though...I am sure that I've read that the better brands do not use wax as a binder but inert oils alone...I'd have to go searching for their materials to see which brands specifically...can you tell us where you got the information on the composition???

Both of the books on oil painting (Elliot's and Leslie's) as well as the product brochures from the manufacturers themselves all clearly state wax is used in all oil pastels. The difference is primarily in the ratio of oil to wax.

eileenclaire
04-02-2004, 12:42 PM
Well, perceptions may differ, but speaking strictly in terms of the actual physical composition, every single brand of oil pastel out there is mostly wax, with only a little oil.

Actually, oil pastels are ground pigments combined with a slight amount of wax, softened with a smaller amount of oil. (I took that out of Oil Pastel for the Serious Beginner by John Elliot). I like your idea about laying down the white, I will have to give that a try!

If you really want smooth blending, you will have to work harder at it. But then, I'd suggest you are using the wrong medium - one of the joys of oil pastel is how it looks *without* this type of blending. You do have to be patient and get enough of it on the paper that it starts to lose that crayon look, though.

For me, one of the joys of oil pastel is the blending. And I find it easy to blend, either with fingers or a tortillon paper stump. It's easy to get smooth blends with practice, just like in any medium.

Dyin
04-02-2004, 01:18 PM
Both of the books on oil painting (Elliot's and Leslie's) as well as the product brochures from the manufacturers themselves all clearly state wax is used in all oil pastels. The difference is primarily in the ratio of oil to wax.

Sorry, Marc, I stand corrected...I found the Holbein brochure and they do state they have wax as part of the formula. They did say they use mineral oil rather than vegetable oil, but that seems to mostly have to do with 'drying' (never really dry completely)without cracking.
And doh...I have Elliot's book too. It is weird...I went from soft to oil and never thought they were crayonlike in the least. To me they are smooth and creamy...or greasy in the case of Sennelier lol!