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View Full Version : Oil Pastels vs. Oil Sticks


RTT
02-01-2006, 09:11 PM
I am interested in hearing about the experiences and opinions of forum members with respect to oil pastels and oils stick. How are they similar, how are they different? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? How would you use each? How well do they integrate with oil paints? Thanks,
Randy

jmp
02-01-2006, 09:19 PM
From what i've read, "oil pastels" is a misleading name- they are nothing like soft pastels and nothing like oil paint- they are made with wax and are more similar to a soft, good quality crayon than anything else. Oil stix are oil paint with a binder os some kind that keeps it in stick form. I know oil sticks can be used with oil paint- not sure about oil pastels.
I read about this in a recent issue of the pastel journal, it seems that oil pastel painters were not happy that the pastel journal was not including their medium in the magazine and in the pastel 100 competition. Someone finally explained why this was so by pointing out that the two mediums are mistakenly lumped together because of the word "pastel" when in fact, they are nothing alike.

Pat Isaac
02-02-2006, 07:05 AM
Both oil pastel and soft pastel, in an artist quality brand, begin with ground color pigments. The ground pigments are combined with a slight amount of inert oil and wax to create an oil pastel; the ground pigments are combined with filler (often white chalk) and a slight amount of gum tragacanth to make a soft pastel. In a student grade pastel of either type, inexpensive filler material that is dyed with chemical dyes, is usually the component rather than the more expensive colored pigments in an artist quality pastel. Oil pastels never dry, but do harden over time. This quality prevents them from ever cracking. Though they are different, there are many techniques that are similar. Oil pastels are NOT a glorified crayon, but a professional fine art medium.
Oil sticks are oil paint in stick form and can be treated exactly like oil paint. The difference being their drying time. Oil sticks dry overnight or in a few days depending on the brand.
You can combine oil paints and oil pastels in the same painting. Generally, the paint should go on first. This is because oil pastel never really dries and forever remains somewhat workable oil paint on top of it would crack and generally be unstable; whereas the oil paint creates a hard skin and creates a firm base for the oil pastel on top of it. The same rule applies to oil sticks. I often mix the two, but use the OPs for detail. Remember though that the oil pastel will never dry with a hard skin, so could be damaged if your multimedia work is not framed under glass or plastic.
Hope this answers some of your questions.

Pat

sundiver
02-02-2006, 07:56 AM
I read about this in a recent issue of the pastel journal, it seems that oil pastel painters were not happy that the pastel journal was not including their medium in the magazine and in the pastel 100 competition. Someone finally explained why this was so by pointing out that the two mediums are mistakenly lumped together because of the word "pastel" when in fact, they are nothing alike.


Interesting that you mention this article. The writer clearly had had no experience with oil pastels herself. Why would they get someone who hadn't even used them to explain what they were like? Because she doesn't know! There are more similarities than there are differences. As someone experienced in both mediums, I know that, and I found that article to be snide , condescending, and misinformed.
BTW, many of the oil pastel painters who complained to the Pastel Journal were members of this forum!:wave:
Oil pastels are made with oil AND wax. I own some artist-quality crayons, and oil pastels are not like crayons. At all. Like oil paints, they can be blended with turpentine, and the softer brands like Sennelier can be applied in an impasto manner like o.p.s.
I think there are some threads about oil sticks in the Pastel Library that you may find informative.

jmp
02-02-2006, 09:19 AM
look guys, I did not mean to "insult" oil pastels. If you re-read my post you will see that, in order to protect myself, I DID say that what I'm saying was what I READ and I stated the source. I knew there would be other opinions of people more informed or familiar with the medium than I am personally.

The statements in the Pastel Journal seemed to be more concerned with the way that oil pastels are used as a medium- and that there are big differences between them and soft pastels in that respect. I think that that is where the differences are, and that is why the soft pastel "snobs" don't want oil pastels included in their catagory. if I remember correctly, the attitude was that soft pastel users fought to get recognition for their medium and oil pastel users should do the same.

I've used soft pastels for years- what are the similarities? the only one I can think of is that you can take the stick out of the box and use it right away-

Oh and I ask this in the spirit of learning- not to argue or to be a soft pastel "snob"!!!

jennifer

Becky Foster
02-02-2006, 10:07 AM
Well oil pastels ARE pastels...they fit the definition in Webster's and who can argue with that? And for what's-her-name to try to argue that we shouldn't even have the right to the word pastel is ridiculous - it's like saying acrylic and watercolor painters shoouldn't have the right to the word paint because oil painters claimed it first. I hated that article in the pastel journal and luckily it was one of the last of my subscription - I'm happy not to have to see the pastel journal ever again from all the slams they've made to op's (they included articles about op's when I first subscribed 2 years ago! Bait and switch...).

-BeckyT

mimitabby
02-02-2006, 10:18 AM
Oil pastels are made with oil AND wax. I own some artist-quality crayons, and oil pastels are not like crayons. At all. Like oil paints, they can be blended with turpentine, and the softer brands like Sennelier can be applied in an impasto manner like o.p.s.
I think there are some threads about oil sticks in the Pastel Library that you may find informative.

what brands of artist quality crayons do you use, Sundiver? what brands of oil sticks are available?

and to the author of this thread, i don't think anyone was personally attacking YOU; more like they didn't like the article you quoted.
mimi

jmp
02-02-2006, 10:55 AM
yes i know no one was attacking me personally... there seems to be some strong feelings about this- and more than one opinion. Quite a few pastel artists don't think oil pastels are the same as soft and evidently neither does the Pastel Journal. Oil pastel artists don't agree. Personally, I could care less if the pastel journal includes oil pastels....but even if they eventually do, it probably will just be just a small sub-forum type thing. It seems there are so many oil pastel artists- why not have your own mag so that you can fully devote it to your medium? Why accept a small side column article in the pastel journal? I wouldn't pay- what is it- $7.00 for that magazine if it was just throwing a few crumbs out to shut up all the "complainers".

Anyway, the author of this thread just wants to know the difference between oil pastel / oil sticks. I didn't mean to start a debate!

sundiver
02-02-2006, 12:02 PM
The statements in the Pastel Journal seemed to be more concerned with the way that oil pastels are used as a medium- and that there are big differences between them and soft pastels in that respect.

But that's the thing: The author (not you:D , the author of that article) had not even used oil pastels, and wasn't informed enough to make a judgement like that.




I've used soft pastels for years- what are the similarities? the only one I can think of is that you can take the stick out of the box and use it right away-
jennifer

I don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll start a new one in Pastel Talk about that, ok?

Mimitabby, I don't remember the brand of crayons (they're home) but they had more pigment than the usual kind.

Pat Isaac
02-02-2006, 05:14 PM
We were all attacking the article not you. We have a history with the Pastel Journal. Oringinally they were carrying articles about oil pastels and then when the magazine changed hands the articles were gone and some misnomers appeared about OPs. Most of us no longer subscribe and we have started our own society to foster the knowledge and growth of OPs. 'Nuff said.
I thought I answered some of the questions concerning OPs and oil sticks.

Mimi, I use Senneliers and Holbeins for OPs and I use R&F pigment sticks for oil sticks. Sennelier also makes an oil stick,as does Shiva and W&N makes oil bar. They are the only brands that I know.

Pat

ColorMyWorld
02-02-2006, 07:25 PM
I have tried using oil sticks and will try them some more come Summer (they are messier for me so I need to be able to spread out on the back deck.)
Oil sticks get a "skin" on them that you need to peel off before each session. When you wipe the stick over canvas, the simple friction of that mostly liquifies the paint so you can only put down a thin layer. Because it sits on teh canvas in almost liquid form until it dries a few hours later, I find I cannot put another color over it. It doesn't mix, just muddies. This is all what I found from using them a few times. I'm sure there are techniques I haven't figured out yet,
If you do try oil stick, pick up 1-2 sticks in several brands. I found that they behave differently. The Shiva's tend to be harder and break on me while the Sennelier's are softer and mush in the stick. The Senneliers are easier to peel the skin off of and also don't seem to turn to liquid quite as fast. So I've gotten a few more colors of those to play with.
I guess I should add that I prefer using the stick straight on the canvas, no brush. So there larger diameter means a larger canvas for me to get any kind of detail.
There are people who apply paint sticks with a brush and then it just becomes like oil painting directly from the tube.
If you want more info on oil sticks do a search in the oil painting forum. There have been several threads posted in there.

Pat Isaac
02-03-2006, 08:13 AM
When I use oil sticks, I use the R&F brand as they are so creamy. I also, do not use a brush just straight application. They are fat so I mostly use them when I want to do a larger piece and Ann is right that they are messy. I usually wear latex gloves when I work with them.

Pat