View Full Version : Pastel beginners tips needed

05-30-2007, 04:24 PM
Hiya I am new to the pastel forum here but not really new to WC :wave:
I was buying more art supllies yesterday when I picked up an
artist boxed set of 32x oil pastels along with other stuff in it
(22x acrylic paints/pencils etc) it was rather cheap so I bought
it regardless of the fact I know nought about pastels :o

So are there any good websites or tips for oil pastel beginners :eek:

Thankyou in advance :heart:

Donna A
05-30-2007, 07:37 PM
HI! There are all manner of wonderful things to enjoy in the Pastel Library! You'll find the link to those resources under Pastel.

And---remember---the pigments in pastel painting are the same as those (give or take one here and there) as in oil, acrylic and watercolor painting! So---while the 'delivery system' differs, there are a lot of similar issues!

There are also a lot of bits of information for pastel painters (and others) on my Writings page on my web site: http://www.aldridgestudios.com/610-Writings.html

I think pastel is THE MOST IMMEDIATE medium---the color is right there in our hands, almost like an extension of our bodies. And there are as many ways of using pastel as there are people-times-twenty! (or so!) So do play around a good bit and find what comes natural to you as well as finding various ways that others work! The most important thing is to find ways that are comfortable for you! Needs to be an extension of your own expression! There is NO 'right way!' Lightfastness and archivalness are the only things you need to be concerned with in the long run---but for now---just play and have fun---and enjoy the wealth of resources you have available! Very best wishes! Donna ;-}

05-30-2007, 08:31 PM
Since you got oil pastels you might also want to check out the specific Oil Pastel Studio category here in the pastel forum.


05-30-2007, 09:07 PM
Not to be facetious, but there is an excellent thread right at the top of this page, specifically for newbies and almost newbies. Great tips for all levels of pastelists.


05-31-2007, 05:50 AM
Thanks everyone ;)

05-31-2007, 07:18 AM

The others here have said about all I was going to say, but welcome to the Pastel Forum, you will make many great friends here.

Also check out as many boks as you can as all pastellits differ in their techniques, libraries are also a good place to get books from too.

Good luck and ENJOY.

CJ :heart:

Kathryn Wilson
05-31-2007, 08:27 AM
Since you bought oil pastels and that we have an oil pastel forum, I will be moving this over there so that your questions or the help you need will be answered there.

05-31-2007, 11:19 AM
Donna: I first started out with a set that sounds a lot like yours. The OPs in my set were labeled "Art Studio" although I believe they are Gallery OPs (the Gallery brand is sometimes rebranded by other suppliers). They are a student brand, but good enough to get started with (I still use them for underpainting). In time, you'll probably find you'd like to try an artist quality brand (Sennelier, Holbein, Sakura Specialist, or Caran d'Ache Neopastel) because the working qualities are so much better.

There are lots of techniques to use. As people have mentioned already, there are a lot of informative threads in the Pastel Library. And I just happened to run across a great pdf on the Caran d'Ache site that I posted a link to: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=423678

You'll probably want to start thinking of what paper to use. Many OP artists prefer a sanded surface (such as Wallis or Art Spectrum Colorfix paper) because of the nice tooth, but others use Bristol (Vellum surface) and some use Canson.

So welcome to the OP Forum! :wave: I hope you'll enjoy your OPs and please share your paintings with us!

05-31-2007, 01:43 PM
Hi cloudy. I just happened to write this up this week and posted to the scavenger hunt. Made a couple of tweaks to this post. Hope it helps.

I'm no expert at OPs but I hang out in that forum. Whether it's student grade or artist grade, I think a decent oil pastel should be blendable either with a color pusher or a tortillon/stump or your finger. I've tried the very waxy Reeves brand, which doesn't blend at all on any support. However I found it useful as a colorful resist to water media. My favorite student grades are Pentel brand and the water soluble Portfolios. Portfolios are very soft, it's like drawing with lipstick and it's akin to the artist quality Senneliers.

I'm still experimenting with papers. Watercolor papers are thick enough to withstand scraping and pushing or even the additon of liquid (OMS, turp, liquin, or water in the case of water soluble OPs). I find sketch paper a bit thin for the harder OP's but I've seen good results on newsprint. I like newsprint too and the smoother papers (Bristol smooth, Yupo, vellum) with the soft OPs. I find them easier to blend but harder to layer. So it really depends on your touch and style. Many prefer the other side of the spectrum and use sanded papers like Wallis and Colorfix with OPs. I've had good results on the apparently difficult Canson Mi-Tientes but it's a matter of making the texture work for you. I have yet to try the smooth side.

Here's a thread about tools: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=212408

Needless to say, I'm still searching for what works for me. Lately I've discovered I like colorless blenders.

Pat Isaac
05-31-2007, 04:06 PM
Hi Donna, Welcome to the OP forum. :wave: You have received lots of good advice already and I say just jump in with those OPs. I have a friend who has a set like that and he brought them to me to see what I thought. They actually seem like a reasonably good student grade and I would give them a try.

Hope to see some of your posts soon.


06-01-2007, 04:17 AM
I have some grainy (sorry don't know tech terms) water colour paper (I dabble in various mediums so have a good stock pile lol) which I am hoping is good and thick enough for the oil pastels :)

I have a rather ambitious project in mind for the oil pastels and it is something to aim for I guess ;)

I lost one of my pet dogs two years back and want to do an image of him :)
Ambitious I know but I like to have a purpose in mind for doing something ;)
I am trying various mediums due to ill health and wanting a hobby :rolleyes:

Below is a photo of my late boxer dog Boyo which is what I want to aim to do in pastels :o

I am totally a newbie to art (only been doing it for a few months) :o
So any tips welcomed ;)

Sorry if I ask daft questions or put things in the wrong place but I find WC a bit confusing (its so big) :eek:

Pat Isaac
06-01-2007, 08:57 AM
Donna, the watercolor paper should work just fine. When you want to post your work of Boyo, start a new thread in the forum for him. Looking forward to your posts.


06-01-2007, 09:58 AM
Thanks - its so easy to get lost around here lol

Pat Isaac
06-01-2007, 10:40 AM
We're all here to help. Just ask.


06-01-2007, 01:14 PM
Donna: Awww. I love that image of Boyo. It looks like a good one to turn into an OP painting. Just wanted to let you know that you can also post progress pics, before the painting is done. This is especially useful if you get stuck someplace and need some advice for solving any problems you may have run into. Just put "WIP" (Work in Progress) after the title, so people will know it's an unfinished piece.

WC really is a big place, and it can be easy to get a little lost at first. I've been here almost a year now, and there are still new nooks and crannies that I'm discovering. But there's always someone around to ask, who will help point you in the right direction. WCers are a friendly and helpful bunch.

Enjoy your painting! :)

06-01-2007, 06:51 PM
Thanks - I am so nervous abotu pastels but guess jumping in the deep end is only way too learn them ;)

Ive started a practice piece (before I attempt Boyo) but am interested in what techniwues people use with oil colour pastels ????

06-01-2007, 09:57 PM
Didn't you play with waxy crayons as a kid? (Crayola brand usually was the biggest set) Coloring books? I was always the kid who stayed inside the lines and insisted on solid area and realistic colors. Ie, grass must always be green, skies must be blue, the sun was yellow, etc. No wonder I thought art was boring :lol:

Read through Pat's OP class to see how she does it. It's a sticky at the top of the OP forum threads. She like to block in areas and then refine it. I found Dianna Ponting's (soft) pastel class in the Drawing & Sketching Classroom directly applicable to oilies. She starts at one side and works toward her drawing hand side so that she doesn't smudge the work she's finished.

I'm not too good at watercolors but it's the most compact way for travel sketching. But I'm not that good at it and often find myself adding ink for definition. I've been playing with ink and oil pastels this week and enjoying the results.

Please excuse my scanner. It think's its smart when it straightens out my pictures for me.

06-02-2007, 06:26 AM
Oh I thought my scanner was only one that did that lol

06-02-2007, 11:12 AM
Not to be facetious, but there is an excellent thread right at the top of this page, specifically for newbies and almost newbies. Great tips for all levels of pastelists.



I looked at the top of the page and can't find it. Would you please provide a link to the thread you recommend for newbies in need?

Dave - a newbie to OPs in SERIOUS need

06-02-2007, 11:24 AM
Dave: When this was first posted, it was in the soft pastel forum, where there is a sticky close to the top of the page. Approximately 60 posts with tips for newbies, but unfortunately, they are mostly associated with the softies. I missed the fact that OP's were mentioned in the origianal post. Sorry for the confusion.


Pat Isaac
06-02-2007, 01:09 PM
Dave, here is a link to my classroom in the OP forum, which might be helpful



06-03-2007, 05:48 PM
I am finding it very hard to control the oil pastels :(

Pat Isaac
06-03-2007, 06:40 PM
I'm here to help. What exactly are you having a problem with? If you posted a pic it might help to see what we can do to help. Are you haveing a problem putting the OP on the paper. If you are having a problem layering, OPs often have to set up overnight so that the surface hardens a little and you can add more color. I find that if I work on them too long the color just slides around and it won't stay on top.


06-03-2007, 07:02 PM
Its when I get it on the paper it seems to leave clumps in places, then when I got layer later the clumps just mess it all up :(

06-03-2007, 07:03 PM
Hi Donna. Post your work, ask questions, and say what's giving you problems. Don't be afraid you'll look stupid--what's stupid is not asking and continuing to struggle in ignorance of what you can do about it. There are people here that can help you get going (and they're nice people, to boot).

06-03-2007, 07:05 PM
I will try get a photograph tomorrow to show it and thanks ;)

Pat Isaac
06-03-2007, 07:09 PM
Yes, do that, please, Donna. Also tell us what kind of OPs you are using and on what paper.
I'll be waiting for your post.


06-03-2007, 07:47 PM
Donna, you can use a drafting brush to get rid of the crumbs. Sorry, this doesn't help with preventing them in the first place.

06-04-2007, 02:33 AM
Bob thats the word I was looking for - when I use them they leave "crumbs" ;)
Whats a drafting brush ??? (me in UK so may be different here) ;)

Got an appointment first thing but will get a picture when I get back - thanks everyone :)

06-04-2007, 03:56 PM
Sorry the picture isnt very good but it shows what looks like crumbs and they build up and wont budge :confused:


Using 110lb cold pressed watercolor paper with oil pastels :)

Pat Isaac
06-04-2007, 05:06 PM
I see the crumbs and sometimes I get those after many layers and I just take a tissue and brush them away. However, the problem may be the pastels themselves. They may have a lot of wax in them as compared to more oil and that would account for the crumbs. I would just take a tissue and brush them away and keep going to see what happens. The paper surface seems fine.


06-04-2007, 05:08 PM
Hi Donna. Here's one example (http://www.dickblick.com/zz229/01/)of a drafting brush. (Size doesn't matter--I happen to have the next smaller one.) Any place that sells architect, drafting, or graphics art equipment should have one, and they're cheap. They're used to remove eraser crumbs from a drawing (so you don't use your hand, which will probably smudge it). It works on most OP crumbs too.

If a crumb gets embedded in the paint, however, the brush won't be stiff enough to knock it loose, and it's not very desirable to poke the brush into the painting trying to do so (you might ruin the painting or the brush). Then you've got the choice of either smooshing the crumb into the painting (with the OP stick, stump, palette knife, or something else) or carefully extracting it with a palette knife (or something else).

I was hoping someone else would have responded by now, because... The only real way I found to avoid crumbs was to move to an artist's-level OP. Even they will leave some crumbs, but they don't shed copiously like the cheap OP's do, and what crumbs they do leave are more amenable to smooshing because they tend to be softer and more easily blended in. Maybe someone else will have a better suggestion.

06-05-2007, 01:41 AM
Thanks both of you - one daft question but I noticing it more with certain colours - some just don't do it but some colours do it alot :confused:

Pat Isaac
06-05-2007, 08:38 AM
I'm sure this is true with some colors, and I have noticed that happening with some of the artist brands. I have a couple of Sennelier colors that do that, but when I puchased newer ones they were fine. I think it had something to do with their age.


06-06-2007, 07:41 AM
Also (I may be wrong) but some the colors seem softer than others when I use them ;)

I am finding which ones are worst (these are meant to be artist grade) but guess as a beginner these things need to be learned :)

Pat Isaac
06-06-2007, 07:49 AM
This can be true. What OPs are you using?


06-06-2007, 10:47 AM
They are a shops own brand of OP but they state they are artist grade