Paint Using Oil Pastels Oil Pastels Step By Step

Paint Using Oil Pastels animation displaying the steps over time

Paint Using Oil Pastels – Cat Portrait Example

Paint Using Oil Pastels step 1
The first step is to sketch out the picture, and to put down as much color as possible.

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.

Paint Using Oil Pastels 92 Erengi Art Aspirer Oil Pastels
Sometimes I paint using oil pastels. My box of 92 Erengi Art Aspirer oil pastels is starting to get a workout!

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.

Paint Using Oil Pastels blending color
A clean rag or rolled up paper towel does a nice job of blending oil pastels.

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.

Paint Using Oil Pastels finished painting
The finished oil pastel portrait of Cecil.

Sheila Alden

Beverly Massachusetts, artist Sheila Alden has been painting and drawing since early childhood. Sheila is a life-long artist uniquely blessed with passion and talent. The artwork she creates is bold and joyful. She has a deep love and admiration for the natural world. And as a result her artwork focuses on animals, flowers and nature, as well as a variety of other subjects. A variety of mediums are represented in her work. Which includes oil paintings, watercolors, oil pastel paintings, pen and ink and pencil drawings.