View Full Version : Do OP's harden with age?

Phil Coleman
06-02-2008, 01:38 PM
I am quite new to this medium and also a little inquisitive, so I hope you do not mind me asking a few questions.
Well I finally acquired some oil pastels after purchasing the wrong product on two occasions!
What i would like to ask is do the Oil Pastels themselves ( the sticks ) have a limited life, or perhaps what I want to ask is do they tend to loose their softness over time. I have seen some being offered for sale and have considered purchasing them providing they are still likely to be as soft as the new ones available?
I have so far acquired some Caran d'arch neopastels and after having a play with those I can now appreciate the benefit of using the softer senneliers in conjunction with them.


06-02-2008, 03:45 PM
Phil: Hi there! Questions are always welcomed here, so you should never worry about that.

I've had a set of Sennelier OPs for about 10 years now. I'm happy to report that they all still seem soft and easy to work with. I say this with one caveat, however: it may be a little difficult to tell, since there are subtle differences in softness and other handling characteristics of each Senn OP depending on the pigment(s) used. These small differences are noticable between Senns made of different pigments in brand new Sennelier OPs as well. The fact that there are differences anyway may make it more difficult to notice any differences based on age. But in the Senns I've had to replace when the original one in the set was used up, I haven't noticed any difference in handling characteristics.

To me, the claim that they dry out seems counter-intuitive, since the oil they're made with, mineral oil, is itself non-drying. But who knows, perhaps there's some other variable (...weather perhaps? ...or maybe some other ingredient Sennelier uses besides the oil?) that can make a difference in how long an OP will maintain it's freshness and useability. But that's not been my experience. I'm sorry I can't give you an absolutely definitive answer, but I hope what I've said here helps at least a little.

One other thing to consider is that a reputable art dealer will allow you to return a defective product, so if you do order these and there's a problem, you could probably return them. Why do you have a concern that these OP sets are old? What art supplier is selling them?

Pat Isaac
06-02-2008, 04:04 PM
I agree with Annie. I have had some of my Senns for over 10 years and they are still soft. These are little used colors. I would say that certainly the professional brands would not dry out and they are all made with an inert non-drying oil.
I even had an artist friend give me a set of Senns that she had had for over 20 years and I am using them now. The catalog companies often have sales on them.


Phil Coleman
06-03-2008, 05:49 AM
Annie the art supplier is a private seller who is selling them on one of the on line auctioning sites, it does specify that they are some years old, hence my question.
I have some 40 - 50 year old Girault soft pastels and they are still very soft but like you mentioned a lot can depend on the waxes or other ingredients rather than the pigments but if you are still quite happy to use those older OP's then i might see if i can obtain them.

Thanks to you both for answering my question.

06-03-2008, 03:04 PM
Best wishes for success on your bid. Let us know how they are if you do purchase them, Phil.