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View Full Version : Pondering getting into oil pastels! Help!


lani noa
06-19-2007, 04:41 PM
I am an acrylic artist. Now I want to move into a medium that allows me to blend more and have the time to blend colors the way I see them in my mind. I have quietly been monitoring this forum for a while and really don't know how to jump into oil pastels ...what would give me a good start? What pastels? What materials? I don't want to go student grade, I want to work with the real thing so I can really get a feel for it. I really have no idea how to work with the pastels. How do they blend? How does one do fine work with a pastel stick? Do I combine colors together the way I do in acrylics to create neutrals? Does one layer to create depth and interest? There are many other questions I have, but that will suffice for now.

Pat Isaac
06-19-2007, 04:55 PM
Welcome to the OP forum, Misty. :wave: Let's see if we can answer your questions and get you started.
I use Sennelier and Holbein OPs. These are the softest of the professional OPs. Caran D'ache neopastels and Craypas Specialists are a little harder, but still professional brands. Artists blend with their fingers, tortillions and color shapers. Some OP artists use solvents to blend and spread the OPs. You can use a watercolor or acrylic wash as an underpainting.
OPs layer like oils and they often need to "set up" overnight before adding another layer. You can mix colors one on top of the other and create many layers.
There are numerous supports to use and it ultimately comes down to what works for you. i use colorfix and Wallis sanded papers and also masonite and clayboard primed with gesso and Colorfix.
Take a look in the pastel library for classrooms and articles about OPs.
Hope this helps and ask more questions.

Pat

AnnieA
06-19-2007, 05:03 PM
Pat's done such a good job of answering your questions, Misty, that I really have little to add, but I wanted to welcome you to the OP forum. :wave: You can find more info if you want in the Pastel Library (look for the threads on OPs).

OPs are a wonderful medium, because there are so many different effects you can achieve with them. Take a look at the recent Oil Pastel Society Show (Pat won Second Place) for an idea of the wide range of techniques and looks possible: http://www.oilpastelsociety.com/2007Show/emerginginfo.htm (there are 3 pages, so make sure to click the links to see it all). And the OPS site has some good tips and info too.

If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to post them. And let us know what you decide about what OPs to buy, and how you like them. :)

lani noa
06-19-2007, 05:49 PM
Thanks so much for your answers. I have been in the library looking through many of the threads ...so much information, yet some of it is very confusing.

What is a reasonable array of colors (or a set) to get started? Should I stay somewhat away from Stennelier and lean more towards Holbein since I live in a warm climate?

i use colorfix and Wallis sanded papers and also masonite and clayboard primed with gesso and Colorfix.

Can I gesso paper to seal it, will it increase or decrease the tooth? What is Colorfix?

You can use a watercolor or acrylic wash as an underpainting
Will using an acrylic wash effect the tooth of the paper?

Thanks so much for putting up with someone so "green".

laika
06-19-2007, 09:01 PM
Can I gesso paper to seal it, will it increase or decrease the tooth? What is Colorfix?

IMHO, gesso on paper makes a nice, durable surface for OPs. and Liquitex makes a clear gesso that is very toothy.

Colorfix is a somewhat gritty (fine) acrylic primer. it works on paper or panel.

Pat Isaac
06-20-2007, 07:22 AM
You might want to start with some of the starter sets for colors and then add individual sticks of color as you go along.Holbein is good to start with and definitely get a white Sennelier as it is very opaque and sits on top of everything. There is no reason to seal Wallis or Colorfix paper. They are both heavy papers and have a sanded surface. Colorfix paper comes in many colors. You can put gesso on almost all other papers and as laika saus it gives a nice toothy surface for OPs. The wash will not effect the tooth or I have never found it to happen.

Pat

lani noa
06-20-2007, 01:43 PM
Thank you laika and Pat your information is invaluable to me. I will take your advice and get a starter set of Holbein and a white Sennelier, plus order in some paper too. It will take a while to get here, but I'm sure it is worth the wait.

What about Neopastels, ...how do they fall into all of this. Can they mix with regular pastels or are they a different animal?

eclectix
06-20-2007, 01:59 PM
I've never used Neopastels, but I have heard that they are firmer than Holbeins. They can definitely be mixed with the others. I would suggest that you get a starter set of Holbeins, then buy just a few loose Senneliers and maybe even a few Neopastels to compare them. Odds are, if you're like me, you'll end up using them all anyway. I use the firmer ones to paint early layers, then use the softer ones to build up top layers. I agree that you should get a white Sennelier, but you might also try adding some of their light blues as well since they are great for adding ambient light reflections.

lani noa
06-20-2007, 02:33 PM
Thanks Kent, I will take your advice and get some blues too. I do a lot with reflections since I live in Hawaii and do the ocean scenes a lot, and there I really need ambient light refelctions. Would it be a good idea to get a Sennelier yellow since I also do many sunset scenes? I will be placing my order later today and want to be as complete as possible since it takes so long for things to get here.

eclectix
06-20-2007, 03:10 PM
You know, I'm not as impressed by Sennelier's yellows- some of them are a bit transparent, although that's frequently the case with yellows I guess. If you go for their yellows, try #19, Lemon Yellow- it's more opaque than some of the others. I also like #18 "Bright Yellow" although it's more of an orangey color (like macaroni and cheese), it's quite opaque and is a nice color for sunsets. I also recommend 236, "coral", if you are looking to do sunsets. It's a very lovely color with great opacity. And since I'm on a roll, I have to suggest that you try 39, "chromium green deep" (not the best name for this color IMO) if you want a nice deep color for painting the ocean. It's not very opaque, but the color is very intense and a little bit can be blended a long way to create a cool, deep Pacific blue-green color.

Pat Isaac
06-20-2007, 04:19 PM
I agree with all those Sennelier colors, Kent. Yes, the yellows are a pain because of their transparency. CaranD'ache neopastels are a little bit harder than Holbeins and do blend well with all of the others. Many OP artists use them for plein air and for under layers of OPs.

Par

AnnieA
06-20-2007, 06:08 PM
What is a reasonable array of colors (or a set) to get started? Should I stay somewhat away from Stennelier and lean more towards Holbein since I live in a warm climate?

Misty: I just noticed what you wrote about your climate and it might make a difference, depending on how you intend to work. There are some OP artists who have reported problems with Senns and Holbeins when doing plein aire in hot weather (they melt!). If you're planning to work inside (with A.C.) there should be less danger of melting, but you might want to purchase a stick or two of each of the brands you're considering before making an investment, in order to see which ones work best in your climatic conditions. I don't so plein aire so I can't speak from experience, but I know Wendy (sundiver) uses Sakura Specialists for plein aire in hot weather because they don't melt.

I mentioned before in other threads that I got some good results using student brands, which are typically too hard for normal use, when I first started, but looking back on it, that may have been because I did a flurry of paintings in very hot weather (90s and humid). It may have been that the weather softened them up enough for me to use them effectively. Sometimes when it's been very hot and humid I've had difficulty with my Senns.

You might also consider a Dakota Pastels OP Sampler: http://www.dakotapastels.com/index_oilpastels.shtml
It has two of each of the four artist's brands (and two Caran d'Ache neocolors, which are a little different than regular OPs) and a large Senn Grande. The samplers are all in one color for the most part (blues, for instance), so it won't really give you the array of colors you need to get started, but it's a good way to see how each brand feels to you. Or, if you have a good art supply store near you that might have OPs in open stock, that's another possibility, and maybe one of the employees would know about how local conditions affect OPs.

Pat Isaac
06-20-2007, 06:38 PM
Another point that to mention, is the idea of coolers for your OPs if you are doing plein air. The Dakota sampler that Annie mentions is a good idea.

Pat

lani noa
06-20-2007, 07:14 PM
Kent, thanks again. The colors you mentioned sound very interesting. It is a shame that yellow is such a problematic color, yet so very vital. The other colors you mentioned sound very interesting, I just might get some of those too if the pocket book allows.

Annie, I see what you mean. Some days it is very hot and others quite pleasant. Most of the time we sit in the 80's. As to a good art store, ha, ha, I wish!, so I guess I'm going to have to depend on mail order. I'm going to have to check out this Dakota Pastel site.

Pat, the cooler is a good idea ...I sure have enough of them laying around, might as well claim one for this purpose.

All of you guys are the best, thanks for your wonderful responses. :clap:

Donn
06-21-2007, 11:56 AM
I am also interested in getting into OPs. Is it better to start with the Senniller starter, assorted 24 or Landscape 24 sets? I noticed I can buy 12 Senniller open stock cheaper than their starter set. But I don't know what colors are in the starter set. There seems to some colors I like better in the assorted set than the landscape set (according to DakotaPastel's list of colors). Is there a difference between the Senniller and Holbein? Noticed the Holbeins are a bit more expensive. I'm on a limited budget so can't spend too much.
Thanks.
Donn

wabbitt
06-21-2007, 02:18 PM
Hi Misty & Donn, welcome to the oil pastels forum. I just wanted to add, as long as you're making an order, get a set of color shapers too to help you push around the ops and blend on paper. If you don't already have them, stomps and (the smaller) tortillions will help you make sharper edges and detail because the OP sticks are pretty thick. Just for sketching, some people like grocery brown bag paper or plain newsprint, but if you want to stay archival, cold press or hot press watercolor paper is fine for starting. I use my sketchbook, even, but you're going to want to try other surfaces from there.

Donn, sorry to tell you...buddy, you're an art addict. :p Welcome to the club.

LJW
06-21-2007, 03:42 PM
Misty and Donn, welcome to the OPs forum. I use both Holbein Artist and Sennelier oil pastels and love their creamy blendability. I use them interchangeably, though the Holbeins are a tad firmer. I second the notion of getting some firm colour shapers to push the OPs around and to blend them. (The darker grey ones from Royal Sovereign are firm, the lighter grey are too soft). Misty, I basically apply several layers of OPs and blend them with a colour shaper to the degree I want. In small areas, you can push the OP into place, or for thin lines, you can use a template. I also use Walnut Hollow oil pencils and Carbothello and Pitt pastel pencils for fine lines and final details. Donn, the colour choice depends on your subject matter, but the sets are usually cheaper than buying the OPs individually. I have bought mine all individually (starting with only 19), but over the period of a year since I began using OPs, I have purchased nearly all of the Senneliers so it would have been cheaper to buy the set. Jane

AnnieA
06-21-2007, 03:47 PM
Donn: Welcome to WC! :wave:

Sennelier now publishes a small brochure with all their colors (both original and the "new" ones). Although it has the usual problems with color accuracy, it might be helpful for your decisions. I think both Blick and Dakota offer lists of what colors are in each of the sets.

I haven't used Holbeins, so I'm just passing along info that I've gleaned here, but I think Holbeins are slightly harder than Senneliers, which are very soft. Holbein's line is based on the Munsell color system, with a basic color and two (it used to be four) tints (white added) of each basic color. Sennelier offers a different sort of color line, with some beautiful, subtle colors not found in any of the other brands.

Hope that helps and I hope that both you and Misty will enjoy working with your new OPs, whichever brand you decide on.

Julie and Jane offered some good general tips on additional tools and paper options for working with OPs.

Also, a clarification: Art Spectrum "Colorfix" is really two products. There is a Colorfix primer that one can paint on a support to create a lightly sanded surface, and there is a Colorfix sanded paper as well, that has the primer already sprayed onto it. (Using the primer won't result in the same surface as achieved by the factory when they make the paper, but it's a good surface nonetheless.) There's also a new "Colorfix Supertooth" (both primer and paper) that offers a more textured surface, so I guess there are really three products.

Pat Isaac
06-21-2007, 05:15 PM
Hi Donn, and welcome to the OP forum.:wave: Lots of good advice here. Let us know what you decide.

Pat

Donn
06-24-2007, 03:54 PM
Hi All,
Thanks for the info. Right now, I'm torn between Holbein and CrayPas Specialist. I have a couple of days to decide before DB's 20% goes off.
The Senneliers I'll wait on, I live in Florida, and it gets a bit warm. 100 degrees today!
Thanks, Wabbit, for your comment (art addict). I needed that!!!<G>
Any comments between the Holbein and Specialist?

Donn
06-24-2007, 07:32 PM
Hi Donn, and welcome to the OP forum.:wave: Lots of good advice here. Let us know what you decide.

Pat

Hi Pat, and all,
Well, I've decided to go with the 15 stick Holbein after all. I was playing around with the Expressionists and they are just too waxy, doesn't blend well and I can't get them to work nicely. I did a partial landscape, and may put it in my Flickr as I don't know how to upload any photos here. Give me a little time and you can check the Flickr at: http//www.Flickr.com/photos/waysidejourney .

As I understand it, the Specialists are not quite as waxy, but still so. If I do get any (have samples coming) and like them, I can buy them cheaper than I can Holbein.

BTW, is there any way to delete an entry once it's been posted? I can't seem to find a way when I put the wrong website address for Holbein.
Thanks.
Donn
Now, to find the right surface for them. Pearl seems to have just what I'm looking for, but they want a $25 minimum, so will have to wait on that.

Donn
06-24-2007, 07:50 PM
I just uploaded my oil pastel landscape to my Flickr. Please comment, as I was not happy with the way the way it blends.
Donn
http://Flickr.com/photos/waysidejourney

LJW
06-24-2007, 10:37 PM
Donn, I had a look at your Flickr photos. It's clear that the OPs weren't blending for you. One thing to remember is that you need to put down a good layer of OPs to get them to move around. With better quality OPs that will be much easier.

I like your Sumi-e images. I studied Sumi-e for a while and found it very relaxing. It's fun to see how few strokes you can use to represent an animal or bird or landscape. Jane

Donn
06-24-2007, 11:21 PM
Donn, I had a look at your Flickr photos. It's clear that the OPs weren't blending for you. One thing to remember is that you need to put down a good layer of OPs to get them to move around. With better quality OPs that will be much easier.

I like your Sumi-e images. I studied Sumi-e for a while and found it very relaxing. It's fun to see how few strokes you can use to represent an animal or bird or landscape. Jane

Thanks, Jane. I do like the Chinese brush painting. I'm hoping to try the images using OPs.

Also, thanks for the comment on the OP landscape. Let's hope the Holbeins will do the trick. I will hold on to the Expressionists for a while and try to work the drawing over with them.

Thanks for all your help in getting me to upload images to WC. I just have to go in and resize and crop. But that particular sketch was on 9 1/2 x 12 paper!
Donn