10 Tips For Using Oil Pastels

What follows are some oil pastels tips and tricks I have learned over my years of creating oil pastel art.

This list is some of the main items I think that can be helpful for both beginners and experienced oil pastelists as they work with the medium.

These are my top 10 quick tips for working with oil pastels!

  1. Don’t expect greatness right away.
    Oil pastels takes time and practice to develop the skill.
  2. Use artist quality oil pastels, not the cheaper brands. Trust me, there is a difference! (for example, Sennelier)
    If you do use a cheaper brand, at least get a few sticks of artist-quality to mix together with.
  3. Use paper towels to keep your oil pastel sticks clean and free of other colors.
    Oil pastels are a very vibrant medium. Try to keep the individual sticks clean as you work.
  4. You can blend with your finger, but also try blending using tortillions, brushes, or cloth.
    For more information on blending, read my article Blending with Oil Pastels.
  5. Experiment with it!
    Oil pastels are a very unique drawing medium. You can draw like with regular pastels but you can also do things like use solvents and mix colors with a brush together.
    You can mix oil paint with oil pastels, but the oil paints should go on first (underneath the oil pastels).
  6. Sketch your composition at smaller scale first.
    Use pencil or colored pencils to sketch out your idea before beginning the actual oil pastels piece.
    Make several sketches – not just one – to compare with.
  7. Try out a variety of surfaces.
    Oil pastels work on a variety of surfaces. That is one of the reasons oil pastels were created in the first place – so that they can work not just on paper.
    Surfaces to try include:
    Various drawing papers
    Colored or Toned paper
    Mixed Media Paper
  8. Take breaks as you work.
    This is true for any medium, but sometimes it helps to take a step back and return to your art later on, so you can see the progress with a fresh perspective.
  9. Fill in bigger blocks of color first, then add details later.
    Yes many artists are excellent at filling in detail right away. With oil pastels, details should be delayed until later on.
  10. Bookmark this website, or follow the Facebook page.
    If you are just getting started with oil pastels, be sure to read my Beginners Guide to Oil Pastels.

And that’s my 10 tips for using oil pastels.

If you have another tip to share, please leave a comment below.

Happy oil-pasteling! – Eric


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