View Full Version : Do soft pastel techniques help with OPs?

05-31-2006, 09:40 PM
Hi everyone,

Since I have some money to spend :) I'm wondering if I would benefit from learning more about soft pastel techniques? I'm an oil painter learning how to use OPs, and I wonder if a book or DVD about soft pastels would help with the application of OPs? I have the OP book by John Elliot, but I'm not particularly taken with his landscapes, my main subject matter. I'm thinking of the book by Albert Handell, Painting the Landscape in Pastel or the book by Richard McDaniel, Plein Air Painting in Pastel. I don't intend to actually use soft pastels, due to allergies. Any suggestions for books or DVDs would be appreciated if you think they might be useful. Thanks, Jane

05-31-2006, 10:37 PM
Jane, I don't know about those two books but I was thinking about getting one of them myself. I often buy art books in many different mediums. I find quite a bit useful in the way of concepts. And sometimes with a creative twist I can use techniques discussed in oil paint books.
I have seen several oil pastel paintings that have the look of soft pastels so my guess is that the soft pastel techniques would be helpful. If you get one of those books, let me know how it works out.

06-01-2006, 05:51 AM
I use oil pastels pretty much like I use softies, and like you am allergic, and like to do landscapes. Soft pastel books can be helpful. The difference mainly is that it's difficult to layer lights over darkd so you have to find a strategy to defeat that, and you need more tooth (like a sanded surface)if you do a lot of layering.
You can also do a lot of things that are different than softies. Hanging out here will show you some of those things, or joining the O.P.Society.
Books I have found applicable for landscapes are any by Elizabeth Mowry or Jackie Simmonds. Probably any pastelist who does work that you like would be useful.

06-04-2007, 03:16 PM

I am new to the OPs, and I would like to revisit Jane's question regarding the use of pastel techniques with OPs. So, Jane if you are out there lurking, heads up because Donna Dos Santos is callin' ya.

Jane: I realize that it has been over a year since your post, but am interested to know if you discovered anything further regarding the use of pastel techniques with oil pastels. I am new to this medium (worked in watercolors for a bit).

I am not particularly fond of any of the oil pastel books I have found at the library, and like you, I am not particularly taken with John Elliot's landscapes. I am interested in trying landscapes but also want to do some oil pastel paintings from the many photos I have from old villages in France, Spain and Portugal that I have visited.

If anyone else has any information to offer, I am all ears, especially regarding classes in the Los Angeles area or DVDs.

Donna Dos Santos

06-04-2007, 03:40 PM
Since I last posted in here I acquired Richard McDaniel's book mentioned above. He actually has some o.p. work in there pretty much indistinguishable from his soft pastel work.

06-04-2007, 05:02 PM
Cool! I will check that one out. Thanks a bunch.
- Donna

Pat Isaac
06-04-2007, 05:24 PM
I am sure that some techniques are similar and I have seen OP work that is similar to soft pastel work. Not being a soft pastel artist also, but an oil painter I'm not sure I can comment much. I really like OPs becuase I find them so much like oil paints and have found oil paint books more helpful. I tend to by books not for technique but for other art concepts i.e. composition, color design, etc. I too did not find Elliot's book very helpful. Just not much out there.
Oh well, don't know if I helped at all here.


06-04-2007, 05:49 PM
I did wonder about that: whether oil painting books would be a better source of help than pastel books given the limited choices of oil pastel books. Very good information! Thanks Pat.


06-04-2007, 06:23 PM

I'll give my two cents in a different way.
A known art painter and instructor said something like «I'm here to teach you how to see and not how to paint».
So, although a media (book, video or whatever) upon a certain medium will help you with particular techniques on that medium, but what will make your works better than average will be the same things that you'll learn in oils, pastels, watercolour and so on :learning to see. And of course all other stuff that will make a painting interesting.
I hope to have been of some help and would also like to finish by saying that working in more than one medium is very rewarding.

Kind regards,


06-04-2007, 07:41 PM
Thanks José! I see that you are from Portugal. My husband is from Portugal (Madeira Island, actually) and I visited Madeira Island for Christmas & New Years with just a few days in Lisbon. I loved it, and want to see more of Lisbon and the entire country, for that matter. Thank you for your inspiring words!


06-04-2007, 07:55 PM
Donna, welcome. I bought both the Handell and the McDaniel book. I would recommend the McDaniel book. I like his landscapes and his work does translate fairly well into OPs. As Wendy said, there are a couple of OP landscapes in the book as well. I just bought Landscape Meditations by Elizabeth Lowry (soft pastellist) because I liked her way of taking one scene and painting it in a variety of ways with different colours. (I got it on interlibrary loan first in order to see if it was worth purchasing.) Hope this helps. Jane

06-04-2007, 07:55 PM
Hi Donna,

I know that Madeira and Açores (Azores) are beautiful places.
I've never been there. Unfortunately it's cheaper to travel to other countries in Europe than in my own country. Besides I'm short on money to travel :-)
I'm glad you liked my country. When you comeback don't forget to visit Sintra which is quite near Lisbon and it's a beautiful place. And while going there you can take the route through Cascais and Guincho.

Kind regards,


06-04-2007, 08:16 PM
Thanks Jane. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have the McDaniel book, so I will purchase it. No biggie. I borrowed Elizabeth Mowry's The Pastelist's Year: Painting The Four Seasons from the library and though she doesn't cover oils, I was able to do a painting Saturday evening using her demo as a guide.
Thanks for the info!
José: thanks for the advice. I really wanted to see Sintra on my previous visit but there wasn't enough time. I wanted to see Sintra, Caiscais, Evora, Oporto, The Algarve ... well, basically everything! Another time ...


06-05-2007, 08:24 AM
Donna, I also like Kevin Macpherson's book " Landscape Painting Inside and OUt". He's an oil painter but has many useful things to say.

Welcome to the op fourm too!

06-06-2007, 10:23 PM
I'd suggest the Library here for more info on oil pastel techniques than you'll find in any of the books. The Classroom series will be especially helpful.

Also, this link http://www.oilpastelsociety.com/pdfarchives.htm
is to the Oil Pastel Society Primer for oil pastels. Lots of articles and demo materials that will give you ideas on how to use the oilies.


06-07-2007, 02:01 PM
That's great information. Thank you Carly!

Kathryn Wilson
06-08-2007, 07:49 PM
I did wonder about that: whether oil painting books would be a better source of help than pastel books given the limited choices of oil pastel books. Very good information! Thanks Pat.


I checked out some oil painting books at our local bookstore last night. They certainly do contain some interesting thoughts on light, color, composition, mixing colors (which you can think to do with op's). So I think even reading books at your local library would be helpful -

Anybody ready to write a book? :evil: