Why I Love Oil Pastels

I want to talk about why I love oil pastels, and what they do for me as an artist.

I find oil pastels to be a vibrant and versatile medium, with unique properties that really captivated me as an artist. Unlike traditional soft pastels, oil pastels consist of a non-drying oil and wax binder, which gives them a soft and buttery consistency.

What oil pastels offer is a unique way of approaching art, allowing for a variety of techniques that other mediums cannot achieve.

Vivid Colors

Oil Pastels Painting

One of the primary reasons I and other artists have chosen oil pastels is for their vivid colors.

Depending on the brand, the high concentration of pigment in oil pastels ensures that artworks stand out with rich, saturated hues. This makes them ideal for projects where bold and intense coloration is desired.

It can depend on the brand, due to the amount and type of pigment in the medium, and typically I recommend Sennelier oil pastels. However, always choose what works best for you!

Ease of blending

Another advantage of oil pastels is their ease of blending. The creamy texture of oil pastels allows artists to effortlessly merge colors, creating gradients, shadows, and subtle transitions that might be more challenging with other mediums like crayons or dry pastels.

Blending can take some time to master as a technique with oil pastels, and I talk about various blending styles here on this website. You can use all kinds of tools to blend with, such as paper towels, tortillons, fingers (consider wearing gloves), and other blending tools.

Versatility of Oil Pastels

The versatility of oil pastels has also been a significant enjoyment for me as an artist.

Oil pastels can be used on a variety of surfaces including paper, canvas, wood, and even glass. I believe that this adaptability encourages artists to experiment with different substrates, thus expanding their creative possibilities. At least it has worked that way for me!

Direct Application

Artists such as myself appreciate the direct application that can be used with oil pastels.

Unlike other mediums that require brushes, palettes, or solvents, oil pastels can be applied directly to the surface. Typically there is a shorter setup time required, as you can just pick them up and start drawing right away.

For me, the direct application also offers a more tactile and immediate connection with my artwork, and that’s a subtle difference that is underappreciated in my view.

Old car painting in oil pastels
Old car painting in oil pastels

Layering and Texturing

I find oil pastels to be excellent for creating layers and texture. What I can do is build up multiple layers of color to add depth to my art.

Also, the thickness of the medium can enable sgraffito techniques, where layers are scratched or scraped to reveal colors underneath, adding a unique texture to the artwork.

No drying time

The lack of drying time is another benefit of using oil pastels. Unlike working with oil paints, oil pastels do not require time to dry. This feature is definitely beneficial for artists who wish to work quickly or make immediate adjustments to their work.


Final point about why I love oil pastels. Art that is created with oil pastels has great durability, because they are less prone to fading, cracking, or dusting compared to art made with other types of pastels. This ensures the longevity of the artwork, keeping it as vivid as when it was first created.

In conclusion, oil pastels are my personal choice for a variety of reasons. 1) Their vibrant colors, 2) Ease of blending, 3) Versatility on different surfaces, 4) Direct application, 5) The ability to create texture and layers, 6) Lack of drying time, and 7) Overall durability. These features make oil pastels my favorite medium. I hope this post offers some ideas of the benefits of using oil pastels.

If you’re new to oil pastels, consider reading my Beginners Guide to Oil Pastels. Also I am on Instagram at instagram.com/oilpastelsartist

Happy Oil Pasteling! 🙂

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