Oil Pastels - It's like spreading color with lipstick.
I have a box of Oil Pastels. It looks like this:
Each pastel used to be clean, and they came with their own little spot, in a large cardboard box, as a set of 48. But after six moves, over three thousand miles, and a few days spent in hot cars, they are now jumbled up in a small plastic box getting each color all over it's neighbor... but when I look at this color mess, all I see is magic.
It's like being six again and looking at a box of crayons, oh the possibilities.
I haven't worked much in oil pastel since I bought them literally six years ago, but this month I wanted an effect on a painting about Red Winged Black Birds that I'm working on and realized I could only get it with oil pastels. So I pulled out my box of color, and started exploring once again. On the first night of discovery, I drew some red winged black birds.
And then, got up the courage to draw all over my canvas for red winged black birds...
Then, after being reminded about how amazing these sticks make color glide... I started playing more. And drew a manatee...
...because manatees are really cute.
And then a spoon bill...
....who doesn't love a spoon bill?
And soon found myself over the week, doodling birds while waiting for programs to load on my computer...
And then got carried away, and started drawing on all of the abstract square canvases
I had made for other projects....
...They look better with birds on them.
Oil Pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. There are a variety of brands out there to choose from; Cray-pas to Caran D'ache to Sennelier. Unlike some mediums, you can really tell the difference between the cheaper oil pastels and the more expensive ones. Cheaper oil pastels are stiffer and crack easily when drawing. All of my oil pastels are Sennelier, which is one of the more expensive brands. But, with the Sennelier pastels, it really does feel like you are drawing with lipstick, and their colors are more vibrant. They also glide better on more surfaces, making them a lot easier to use if you enjoy working on a variety of surfaces. I discovered early on when trying out a new medium, it's best to buy a box of as many colors as you can afford. Especially in pastels and pencils. Unless you know you are painting a certain subject that needs only several colors.
In the late 1940s, the story goes that Pablo Picasso's friend, Henri Goetz approached Henri Sennelier, a french artist materials manufacturer, about creating a wax color stick. Picasso was looking for a medium that could be used freely on a variety of surfaces without fading or cracking. Sennelier made the first artist grade oil pastels then with the very intention they could be used as Picasso dreamed. I have barely scratched the surface of possibility with these pastel, but the more I work with them, the more I want to continue exploring how I can make more than just studies of cute animals in my sketchbooks.