Working with Oil Pastels | Tips and Techniques

Working with Oil Pastels | Tips and Techniques


Art is the most expressive language out there. Whatever you can’t put into words, you can express in the form of art. Be it music, or a painting, or anything. It is a language understood by everyone across the globe. Some people have a natural talent for things like painting, sketching, or producing music. But most of us who want to do it, have to learn one way or the other. Working with things like oil paints or oil pastels require a lot of learning and practice because there is very little scope of mistakes.

This article will tell you all that you need to know about oil pastels, how to work with them, and some nice tips on how to use oil pastels for sketching.

What Are Oil Pastels?

Oil pastels or oil crayons are a drawing and painting medium but they are a bit different from regular wax crayons or pastels. The different lies in how they are made. Unlike the regular pastel sticks which are made of methyl cellulose binder or gum, oil pastels are made by mixing pigment with a non-drying oil and wax binder.


Different Ways of Using Oil Pastels

Since oil pastels are very much like oil paints, they require a similar surface to work on. You can use them like simple pastels, with light or heavy strokes. You can also get different textures by manipulating the applied pastel using a wet brush. The brush has to be moistened using some type of oil like turpentine or linseed, or even vegetable oil. You also have the option of dipping the pastel directly in the oil and then applying it on the surface.


8 Tips How to use Oil Pastels

Now that you have some idea about oil pastels and how to use  and work with them, lets get in to some tips that will prove very helpful for you as a beginner. If you are looking for some beginner guide on working with different mediums, you can easily find that on OMG Blog .


1. Don’t Expect Too Much Too Soon

Most of us make the mistake of thinking that the first art piece we make is going to be a masterpiece. This is the kind of expectation you want to avoid. No one’s perfect and at least not on your first try. Perfection in art comes with time and with lots and lots of practice. Put in the hard work and you will definitely see great progress soon.

2. Use Good Tools for Blending

Even though blending with your fingers will work just fine, but using tools like brushes or cloth will not just make blending easier, but it will also enhance your work as well.


3. Make Use of Shorter Strokes

If you use shorter strokes while working with oil pastels, it will give you a lot of room for playing with different patterns. Also, short strokes do help with creating different effects and textures.

4. Control your Crumbs

Every medium of painting or sketching comes with a small price. While working with oil pastels, you have to deal with a lot of crumbs from your pastels. The best way to remove them off your surface with leaving a mark is by using kneaded rubber or a similar thing to get them off completely.

5. Make a Small-Scale Sketch First

Creating a small-scale replica of what you want to make can be quite helpful in understanding it better. It will give you time and space to practice your sketch but not waste too much time while doing so.


6. Work in Intervals

While working on a bigger piece, make sure you take breaks in between. This way you will be able to work without letting tiredness effect it. Also, when you get back to your artwork after an interval, you will see it with a fresh perspective and maybe even make improvements.

7. Work from Bigger to Smaller Details

By filling in bigger blocks and then moving forward with smaller details, you will achieve more precision and clarity of your work. It will also enhance your artwork.

8. Keep Your Pastels Clean

Use a piece of cloth or a paper towel to keep other colours off of your pastel. This way you can eliminate the chance of getting the wrong colour at the wrong place and you can just concentrate on your work.


6 Oil Pastel Techniques

There are 6 main oil pastel techniques that will really help you enhance your quality of work and turn any simple artwork into an absolute masterpiece.


When working with different colours, make sure there are no creases between different colours unless completely necessary. Blending two colours will help infuse them to give a more finished look.

2. Colour Mixing

Apply a thick layer of a colour on your surface. Apply more colours on top and keep blending to get the desired colour.

3. Stippling

You can make small thick strokes to create a stippled effect in your painting. You also have the option of layering different colours to create a depth effect.

4. Scumbling

Use scribble marks with different colours and layers to create various textures and colours.

5. Sgraffito

Apply one colour on top of the other and use a wooden or metallic clip to scratch lines on the surface to reveal the colour beneath.

6. Oil

Use cotton dipped in oil to blend different colours together. You will achieve a smooth pastel colour this way.

Beautiful Oil Pastel Art and Oil Pastel Drawings

There are so many masterpieces present in the world of oil pastel drawings that can leave a person completely in awe of the artwork and the artist. There are so many techniques that you can make use of that will open up an endless list of possibilities for your artworks. Here is one such example of an astounding piece of art made with oil pastels.

Masterpiece of Oil Pastel Drawing

Oil pastel drawings are quite famous for their diversity and beauty. Here are some more masterpieces of oil pastel work.

Oil Pastel Drawing
Oil Pastel Drawing

Sennelier Oil Pastels: Top Choice for Artists

Sennelier oil pastels are definitely the top choice of artists all around the world. They are especially famous for their hand-picked quality pigment. It is not a surprise since that these pastels are so high quality and well known because the first ever oil pastels made by Sennelier were for none other than Pablo Picasso. Picasso wanted a medium which he could use on any surface without any special preparation and Sennelier Oil Pastels did that perfectly for him.

Sennelier Oil Pastels

Turning Oil Pastels into Pastel Paint

Making pastel paint from pastels might sound very confusing or even difficult but it is certainly not. If you want your oil pastels to look more like paint, you can very easily do that. Just dip a cotton ball into oil and rub it over your drawing made from oil pastels and you have your oil pastel paint. It’s as simple as that. Of course, you need practice and experience to pull it off flawlessly but it is very much achievable.

Most Famous Pastel Artists

There are many very talented artists around the world that includes a long list of oil pastel artists as well. But like any other art, some of these artists are more famous than others. Pablo Picasso is one name that tops this list. Other prominent artists who have worked with oil pastels include Odilon Redon, Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt and Eugène Delacroix. Here is a famous painting made by Pablo Picasso using oil pastels.

Famous Painting of Pablo Picasso using Oil Pastels

Frequently Asked Questions on Oil Pastels

Anyone who starts working with any drawing or painting medium has tons of questions regarding it. I have taken It upon myself to answer as many common questions about as possible to help out the beginners. Given below are some frequently asked questions about working with oil pastels and their answers

How to use oil pastels?

Choose an appropriate surface to work on and apply generous amount of pastel on it. Use different techniques like blending, colour mixing, etc. to achieve different textures and colours for your artwork.

How to use oil pastels with water?

Just like pastels as oil based and can be mixed with oil, they are also water soluble and can be mixed with water to create a watercolour like texture.

How to use oil pastels for portraits?

When working with portraits, you must make sure that you have a wide range of pastels to create colour variations to match the portrait exactly. Other than that, you must make use of the right techniques and you will have a perfect portrait with practice.

How to blend oil pastels?

You can use three techniques for blending. The first is to blend using either light-pressure or heavy-pressure stokes. The second is to use colour mixing to create a hue using different shades. The third is to use oil-soaked cotton to mix out the colours.

How to draw with oil pastels?

Drawing with oil pastels is similar to drawing with any other medium. You should have a clear idea of what you want to create and then make a rough sketch using a light pencil. Use colours to create the exact shade you want and make use of different techniques to fill out and refine your rough sketch.

These simple guidelines are only the tip of a big mountain of techniques and ideas on how you can enhance your work while using oil pastels or any other medium. You can find more such things on OMG Blogs. Keep working hard and keep practising and you will definitely reach the goal of making those several masterpieces of your life that you’ve been dreaming about.