The Pros and Cons of Using Oil Pastels

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When it comes to painting with pastels, you have a choice of different types that you can use. If you are used to or have been using soft pastels, using oil pastels will open a whole new world for your creative energy. Below I’ve listed some of the pros and cons of how to paint using oil pastels:

The Cons

Because of their oily texture, oil pastels are not as easy to remove from the surface of your paper. Fine detail and extreme precision is something that you will find difficult to accomplish with these pastels. Oil pastels are more difficult to blend because their oil causes them to quickly adhere to the paper, which additionally leave less room for error. They take a longer time and require more pastels to fill in large areas of your scene, portrait, or whatever the artwork is that you’re creating. Their oily texture makes the darker colors prone to smearing, which makes it difficult to add the lighter colors.

Simple Remedies to the Cons

Choose the area that you want to color first and then outline sketch it. It will leave less room for error when it comes time to add your oil pastel colors. Choose a painting style, object, and scenic choice that doesn’t need fine or intricate details or use another instrument (such as an eraser’s edge or blending tool) to scrape in the fine details.

For the areas that need lighter color, outline them with a white pastel to ensure that no smearing occurs. If smearing does occur when adding the darker colors, simply scrape back to the white area for an easy fix. Choose smaller painting sizes to eliminate the need for filling in large areas of space, or choose colored paper to begin with instead of white paper, which creates the illusion of fuller color.

The Pros

Because of their soft texture, oil pastels make bold, vibrantly color works of art. They don’t have a dry, dusty texture, so the vibrant color won’t diminish if bumped. Unlike the flaking that occurs with soft pastels, fixative sprays will create a glossy sheen on oil pastel paintings and keep them safe from smearing. There is a wide variety of surfaces (such as cardboard, wood, or canvas) on which they can be used. Oil pastels don’t require the use of lots of supplies, such as brushes, palettes, easels, and turpentine (or other cleanup supplies), and so on that other mediums have the need for.


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