View Full Version : New to Pastels with quality questions

01-01-2008, 12:45 PM
Hi Everyone,

I just recently decided to try to explore oil pastels but my experience was much less enjoyable than what I had anticipated. I hope it was the quality of pastels that I bought. I picked up some Loew Cornell oil pastels at Hobby Lobby. They were cheap, I think in both senses of the word. I mean these things don't cover very well, they don't blend very well, I hate them. Is my deduction correct here? Do you think I would like better pastels? Any ideas or brands I should try? I don't want to invest a ton into them as I am just dabbling. You thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

01-01-2008, 01:36 PM
I would recommend you try artist grade pastels whether you use soft dusty pastels or the oil pastels. The difference is huge. I dabble in both the soft dusty version and prefer Sennilier and Unison. I also enjoy the oil pastels and have both Senniler and Holbein. You are wasting your time and talent on the ones you purchased.:rolleyes:

Kathryn Wilson
01-01-2008, 01:40 PM
Hi, although we'd love to keep you in the pastel forum - you would get better responses in the oil pastel forum - so going to shoot you over to them!

I do use oil pastels - the better quality oil pastels are fantastic to use - Sennelier, Holbein, and a few others.

Donna A
01-01-2008, 01:55 PM
Hi, JiMiCrAcK. I agree with Anne and Kathryn that investing in the better quality materials is important. The cheaper materials typically use far less pigment and more fillers to cut costs way down---and often pigments that are of poorer grade, not ground as well to give off their best color effect and/or of less purity. And in the long run, it makes the cheap materials tooooo expensive! It costs a lot of frustration, poor paintings most often---and therefore loss of your time and painting materials---plus the money you paid for the colors.

And you might also experiment with different painting surfaces for oil pastels. I have the Senns and others---and could never get as excited about them as other mediums until I used them last fall on Colourfix sanded paper. And then WOW! So try some good sanded papers. There are several good brands, tho the Colourfix is my favorite---and can be used for any medium.

Very best wishes! And Happy New Year! Donna ;-}

01-01-2008, 03:22 PM
Jerald, welcome to the Oil Pastel forum. :wave: Have a look at the Getting Started in Oil Pastels thread at the top of the forum, for information on professional-quality OPs and materials. I personally like Sennelier and Holbein Artist OPs the best, as they are soft and blend well. I also use Caran d'Ache Ops for some of their colours. I would avoid the Cray Pas, as I find them too waxy and their colours are somewhat garish. You can buy individual oil pastel stick from some vendors, eg. Jerry's Artarama. I primarily use Artspectrum Colourfix paper for a support, although I also use canvas panels for some landscapes where texture isn't a problem. Hope to see some of your paintings soon. Jane

Pat Isaac
01-01-2008, 07:31 PM
Jerald, welcome to the OP forum.....I agree with Jane and I also use Holbeins and Senneliers with a few Caran d'aches thrown in. It is best to use artist quality material to get a good experience. If you can find a place that has open stock you might try a few sticks of each to try them out.
good luck and hope to see some of your paintings...


01-01-2008, 11:47 PM
Sorry to hear the cheapies aren't working out for you. I think it is possible to find decent student quality OPs but they must be blendable, if not with another OP then with a tortillion. If possible, make a line in the art store and try to smear it with your finger. Where I shop there's always a pad near the open stock. I would say the really bad OPs won't even spread with turpentine or OMS (odorless mineral spirits). I started with only a white, black, and yellow Sennelier to try the brand. Now I've started with only four Holbeins to get a feel for this brand before I expand.

01-02-2008, 01:30 AM
Thanks so much for the replies everyone. I'll go get a few of those suggested brands and try them out. I am still trying to find my medium. I'm not sure if it is oil pastels, but I now it isn't cheap oil pastels. I think I am just about ready to give up on paint as well. I'll keep you updated if anything fruitful appears on the pastel front.

01-02-2008, 02:17 PM

A wonderful and properous New Year to you-

You do such beautiful work that I'm wondering what surfaces do you prefer?

that guy with the big 'orange' teeth! - 'bluefish':wave:

Pat Isaac
01-02-2008, 04:15 PM
Thanks, bluefish and the same to you...
I use Art Spectrum colorfix and have recently started using either gesso coated masonite with a colorfix primer or clayboard coated with colorfix primer. I am really liking the boards as I don't have to cut a mat, just frame with spacers.
The colorfix has a lightly sanded surface which works well for OPs.

I saw what you got for Christmas....but we'll only know you if you wear it....:lol: :evil: :D


01-02-2008, 05:17 PM

Thank you for your prompt responce - I just tried playing with a scrap of 'colorfix' and I like what I saw - going to dig out a sheet and try a 'oilly' on it!

The claybord is interesting but why coat claybord when you can purchase and utilize ' pastelbord'? You must have a good reason - I'm dying to know!

Plan on utilizing the christmas present during the spring run of those 'foxy' bluefish!:D


Pat Isaac
01-02-2008, 05:27 PM
I tried the pastel board, but it had too much sanded surface for me. I tried the clayboard on the recommendation of another OP artist. I do like it. The new riheson paper is too sandy for me also. Eats OPs like you woudn't believe.
I'l be watching for the "spring run".....:lol: They are elusive...


01-02-2008, 05:41 PM
Pat, so you are coating the boards with colorfix primer. One coat do it? Sounds interesting to be able to eliminate the mats.

Pat Isaac
01-02-2008, 05:45 PM
I usually put 2 coats on the boards and sometimes 3 depending on how well I think it is covered.


01-02-2008, 06:10 PM

What does the claybord do that plain masonite with 2/3 coats of ccolorfix primer doesn't do?

Do you use the colorless primer or a favorite color?

you didn't think I'd let you of the hook that easy, did you?:wink2:


Pat Isaac
01-02-2008, 06:35 PM
Of course, I did. After all I have these bluefish up here....:lol:
Well...I had these oil paintings on masonite with just a thin glaze of oil paint on them,(a class I took on glazing techniques) and none of them were finished. I knew I would never finish them as oil paintings so I thought I would finish them as OPs. I really liked working on the masonite with the oil glazes. At the same time I had tried this colorfix primer on the clayboard. I haven't tried the primer on the masonite, but I would imagine the effect would be the same. I use a favorite color of primer.
I did like the oil underpainting as half the work was done...:lol: :evil:


01-03-2008, 08:26 AM
I would love to know your favorite color - of primer, that is! (possibly terra-cote?)!


Pat Isaac
01-03-2008, 08:28 AM
I do like the terra cotta, and all the really dark colors....


01-03-2008, 10:21 AM
Pat- did you ever try the OPs on the clayboard surface without using the primer?

The surface is alleged to be very absorbant - wondering how OPs would do - would the clay absorb all the oil and leave the pigment 'lifeless' or would the clay absorb some oil and allow quicker drying, therefore more rapid color buildup without the overnight setting up period - any feeling on this?


Pat Isaac
01-03-2008, 03:48 PM
I have never tried it without a primer, mostly because I hate to work against white. I have no idea what would happen, but I'll give it a try.