Paint Using Oil Pastels – Cat Portrait Example
I love oil painting, but have found that depending on the subject and style, it can take a long time to complete a piece. So I decided to change things up a bit. For this reason I thought I would see what it is like to paint using oil pastels. To start out with, I purchased a boxed set of 92 Erengi Art Aspirer Oil Pastels, in a sturdy wooden box.
For the subject, I chose to paint a portrait of Cecil, my Maine Coon cat. First thing I did was to sketch in the whole picture. Then build up the layers, with more oil pastel colors. I stopped occasionally to blend the colors. Sometimes I used a clean rag, other times a rolled up paper towel. When I oil paint, I use both hands; my left to lay down large patches of color, such as the background and sky. And my right for fine lines and detail. So I decided to do the same thing when I paint using oil pastels.
To start with I used Erengi Art Aspirer brand oil pastels. They are relatively inexpensive compared to some other brands. However, they come in a wide range of colors. In addition they have good light-fastness ratings, and are easy to blend. As I worked, I found I needed more pastel shades. In addition I wanted some that were softer, so I could use them in the top most layers. Softer oil pastels tend to stick better than hard pastels when the layers have gotten thick. For that reason I use them as the painting draws near completion. Sennelier Oil Pastels and Holbein Oil Pastels are the brands I found best for softness. In addition both brands have quite a few pastel shades to choose from.
While working on the portrait, I ran low on white, and very light pastel colors. In the hope I could purchase some nearby, I made a trip to my local art supply store. The only brands they had in stock were CRAY-PAS EXPRESSIONIST AND CRAY-PAS SPECIALIST. I purchased a few to test, but I found them to be difficult to use. They felt dry and hard, and it was difficult to get the pigment onto the paper. Therefore I decided not to work with them.
As I continued to work, I wasn’t sure when would be the best time to start to blend the colors. So I took my best guess. I worked the piece until some of the oil pastel was so thick it was balling up, and other areas still had white paper showing through. This seemed like a good time to blend. I used a paper towel rolled up on my finger to do the blending. Smoothing out the thick areas, and spreading color into the spots that still had paper showing through.
I continued to repeat laying down color and blending. Until I was happy with the result. Here is the finished oil pastel painting.