View Full Version : Help on choosing student oil pastels..

04-04-2008, 02:39 PM
Hi! I'm new to the OP forum and I'm interested in rediscovering oil pastels again.. Oil pastel has been one of my most hated mediums (the other was watercolor) and since I've tried dabbling with watercolor again and turning my hate for it into "love", why not give oil pastel another try?;)

I'm looking into getting some lower-cost pastels and I remember seeing sets of Sakura Expressionist, Mungyo Gallery, Pentel, Neocolor, Van Gogh and some Faber Castell in open stock (though the available colors would have been severely depleted by now) being sold in shops. Mungyo Gallery and Pentel are the only brands with sets of 32 and above colors. Which do you think is the best buy for student OPs? What would blend well? By the way, I still have a few of my Pentel OP sticks from way back in grade school..:D

I know it's best to get the artist grade, but since I'm not sure if oil pastels are really for me, I'm hesitant to shell out a lot of dough. Aside from that, it's extremely rare and expensive to find fine quality art supplies in my country (a tiny tube of artist grade watercolors cost more than the daily minimum wage!:eek:) And I can't order online either. Maybe I'll request some Holbeins from my bf in Japan when we see each other again, but I'd like to be sure before making such an expensive request!:cat:

Shirl Parker
04-04-2008, 03:41 PM
I liked Pentel best of the student variety, then maybe expressionist. I didn't like the Van Gogh at all, too hard and difficult to blend. I only paid $5 for my Pentels which I bought in Mexico. If you like OP after using those, and want to go for some artist quality, some are touting the new Erengi (?) which are under $100. And EP only uses about 8 colors, so you could buy a starter pack of Sennelier.

Tracy Lewis
04-04-2008, 04:17 PM
I have used Pentel now for well over a year, I enjoy working with them. Now that I am running low on them, I have ordered a different set, by a different maker.

Pat Isaac
04-04-2008, 04:28 PM
I would definitely try the Craypas Expressionts....I never used the Pentels, but I have found the Vangoghs to be hard and hard to blend.


04-04-2008, 09:10 PM
Thanks for the replies!

I've rummaged through my stuff and found my originally 25-color set of Pentels which has since been reduced to grimy little random nubs mixed with sticks from other cheap sets. And to my surprise, I also found a set of 36 Mungyo Gallery pastels in very good condition. I've totally forgotten about them! Both sets are more than 10 years old. I tried blending them on a piece of paper and I realized why the Mungyo OPs were in excellent condition and forgotten, to boot: they were wonderfully softer (waxier?) than the Pentels, but they wouldn't blend! I also tried smudging the color with tissue and the Mungyos could hardly bring out color with even double the pressure.

I don't know if Mungyo has changed their formula in 10 years but I don't want to take chances with my money, though they're cheap. This leaves me with opting for either Sakura Expressionist or Pentel.

Any other insights on cheap student OPs are appreciated! :)

truck driver
04-04-2008, 09:28 PM
expressionists, are my choice having used several of the others, they seem to blend really well, as compared to the other student brands, they do have a 48 color set.

Pat Isaac
04-05-2008, 07:38 AM
That would be my choice too.


04-05-2008, 01:49 PM
I'll third that. Expressionists will blend far easier than the Pentels, which are pretty hard.

Welcome to the OP Forum, youtin! :wave: With a new set of Expressionists plus the older OPs you already have, you should be set up pretty well to paint. One other note: I have an old set of Gallerys too; even when they were new, I found that the softness varied considerably between the different colors. The Gallery sepia, for instance, was rock hard. I happened to have both an Expressionist Yellow and a Gallery of the same hue, which I just tested quickly. There didn't seem to be much difference in softness or blending capacity (neither seemed to blend exceptionally well, but then I'm used to super-soft Senneliers, so it may be hard for me to judge). The Gallery OP did seem just a little more opaque. These are both more than 10 years old though, so newer OPs may behave differently. (I'm wondering now, as I think about this a bit more, if my evaluation of Pentels as impossibly hard may have something to do with the age of the ones I have.)

At any rate, it may be worth taking the time to see if there may be some Gallery OPs that you have already that will blend for you. Perhaps all you really need to do is augment what you have with any hues that may be missing or that you know to be too hard - that certainly would be cheaper than buying an entirely new set. Also, perhaps, since you mentioned the availability of open stock, you might purchase a couple sticks of both Gallery and Expressionist in the same hue (or, perhaps the store would allow you to test them right there, prior to purchase), to see which is the better blender in your own estimation. We all tend to judge these things a little differently, so your own evaluation would be the best.

Although the artist brands certainly are much softer, and allow for a greater range of techniques, one still can paint some beautiful paintings with the student grade offerings. I hope you'll come to love OPs as you have done with watercolor and that you'll show us what you come up with. :)