Lesson 1: Basic Introduction
I learned to use oil pastels then blend them then go over with a hard pastel. I am a HUGE rule breaker cause I never use a blending stick or brush. With all pastels I paint with only my fingers. Every pastel painting I have is all by fingers. Once you get used to them you will enjoy them. They are my favorite to work with and thy go very far. I use the Reeves name brand the bigger pastels for oil and have a set of cheaper as well in case I need. For hard pastels I have a set of Blick Square Big Hard Pastels set of 48, Create A Color smaller pastels stick hard pastels, A smaller set of create a color stick for portraits set of 12, and Conte a Paris Pencil pastels set of 24. You would be surprised how long these supplies will last.
Don't get discouraged in any way with them. I did at first but then I started experimenting with them a bit. Lots of useful tricks and tips on youtube also and along the entire internet. One cool technique that I use a lot to get them to take better is first to lay on a layer of watercolor for the back ground. This helps the oil pastels to apply better. But dont just put on plain watercolor mix some beach sand in your watercolor and water then apply first. It also gives great texture. Here you can see one in which I did this. Note the only acrylic on this one is the lighthouse :
Here is another example:
Here are a few pieces with no sand in it and no under layer of watercolor:
Generally I sue regular white sketch paper, white bristol card paper, yellow bristol paper, or blue bristol paper.
Lesson 2: Quick Tips
Key factors in capturing a personality when doing a pastel portrait of either a human or an animal are the eyes. As an artist it is good to add that extra little detail to make the eyes pop out.
At the point of finer details it is best to use pastel pencils. Especially when doing hair,fur,grasses,etc...
Keep your hands moist with creme to prevent your hands from drying out when using pastels.
Keep a dry cloth available for wiping your hands and pastels. Be sure to wipe your hands after using a color and to also wipe the pastel.
Using your fingers to blend pastels because of the oil in your fingers helps to prevent as much dust. When using sponges,cloth,sticks, etc... it causes more dust. Often times using these can also wipe away the pastel from the paper instead of making it stay.
Be sure not to overwork an area. Do not blend to roughly. Blend lightly then apply another layer of pastel.
Pastels are best and most effective when they are layered.
Here is one of my example of a Self Portrait in Pastels:
Lesson 3: Blending and Painting with Chalk and Oil Pastels
There are several different ways of blending and painting with chalk and oil pastels. I have fun experimenting with these ways. Much to the same with watercolors though it can be tricky and test your patience.
With chalk pastels you can use one of two things for a blended painting effect. You can use water in which you first will apply your pastel to your paper, board,etc... After applied to the area which you would like it lightly dip the tip of the brush in water then softly wipe with a clean cloth. Be careful the brush is not to wet. Now gently apply the brush and paint over areas you wish to blend in. Be careful also not to overwork and area at one time as you will cause wrinkle in the surface and/or loose the grip of the surface. Let each blended painting applications of an area dry well before going over that are area again.
This technique can also be done much the same with mineral spirits. I myself enjoy using the mineral spirits instead of water. The mineral spirits does not wrinkle the surface and dried quicker. Use the same techniques as above for blend painting with mineral spirits as I explained with water. Be sure to use in a well ventilated area and wear a mask is advised.
Now comes the fun part where I had a great time experimenting. I am what is known as a Mixed Media Queen. I love to mix medias and experiment. If I don't then my mind don't understand where the fun in being an artist is. Being an artist is much like a scientist. Artist love to experiment and try out new things as well as create them. I love to mix medias.
I took a photo of my husband when he was small and riding his first tricycle. One of those little cute ones with the horn on it. I decided to do a portrait of it. I began by painting him in chalk pastels. Then along the way I need to make a few things pop so I add some oil pastels to the hair area and eyes then went back over with chalk pastels.
Now satisfied with the portrait of him I need to paint a background. I decided to do all of the background in oil pastels .Here is where the Mixed Media Scientist came out in me. I work with acrylic palettes. I took my small acrylic palette and applied a thick layer of the color blue to the palette. I then used a brush to dip in mineral spirits then rubbed my brush around the blue oil pastel that I had on the palette. By doing this I was able to create an oil pastel paint on my brush. I then began painting the sky and followed through to finish the sky. I then moved onto the grass. This was painted on canvas paper. This technique must be done fast as the mineral spirits dries fast. I also had to be very careful around the edges of the portrait of the boy (my husband) as not to disturb the chalk pastel while painting the background with oil pastels.
Here is my finished piece:
That he was the proud peddler of that little tricycle going about tooting his horn. Now he is the proud peddler of a motorcycle and every time we are on on our way home and go under this underpass he beeps the motorcycle horn.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson and stayed tuned for the next lesson soon :)
Lesson 4 Fingering out the Lighting Technique Interactive Lesson
Today's lesson is an interactive lesson. In this lesson you will be asked to create a piece using the following techniques explained to the best of your ability. You will then be asked to place your link to your piece in the comment area so that we can interact with one another.
You may ask why I call it the "Fingering out the Lighting Technique". I call it this technique because I have taught myself this technique when painting in pastels with my fingers. I trained myself to use both had to create light and dark in a painting. If the light side of the painting is on the left side then I use only the left hand to blend light colors with my fingers.If the dark lighting is on the right side of the painting then I use my right hand to paint the dark colors. This works visa-versa. One hand for light and one hand for dark depending on which side the light or dark is.
You may ask, "What is the importance of light and value in painting?"
Correct lighting is what gives a painting depth. I like it when a painting creates the illusion of depth. Without lighting the picture will have a flat appearance.You can bring life to your painting by introducing light in just the right area. Without lighting in a painting the painting is almost lifeless. Light and dark contrast has in making a painting or drawing visually believable. Light and dark is one of the most expressive and important means of art.
When working with pastels and the skies. It is always best to first work on the upper sky background first. Laying a layer of white when using chalk pastels then blending them strongly with the finger can be of a great advantage when painting the skies in pastels. After layering my first layer and blending with white then blending it. I then decide which side right or left for dark or light. I then start applying my colors according to dark or light. For the lighter side I apply thin lines of lighter colors. For the darker side there are darker colors and laid a bit heavier. In the following painting I used my right hand for the lighter side and left for the darker side. Using the "Fingering out Lighting Technique" I blended very lightly. I continued working on the sky until I felt satisfied.
After the sky I moved on to the land, water, and tree. Still using the same technique. The objects such as the trees also need to be correct lighting and shade. Using a finer pastel pencil helped me to place in these objects.
Again I am challenging and training my mind to use only one media. In this piece I used only chalk pastels. Myself I don't like to do and under sketch or drawing. I just go with it and start painting away. There are times I do use a sketch (under drawing) but not often in landscapes.
In conclusion I see where I could still put in some more lighting and shading if I choose. This is something that can be done later. For now I am just touching on the basics of the importance of light and shade. Remember the more you work at it and practice these techniques the more you develop the habits and improve.
See you in the next lesson and remember to post your link to your piece in the comments area please.
Lesson 5: Cleaning your Hands
I first wipe my hands with a cloth very well. Then I wash them thoroughly with warm water and dish soap. I also use a scrub brush to clean my nails and creases of hands. After finished I use a real heavy cream on my hands to restore moisture as the pastels are known for drying out hands and causing them to crack and hang nails.
Lesson 6: Allow to Be Challenged
Today I allowed my husband to challenge me. He chose a subject for me to paint and told me he thought it was impossible for me to do. Allowing another to challenge you also broadens your horizons. Not only allow them to challenge you but after you are finished ask them for their opinion on how well you did. This opens your mind to seeing through another persons ideas and opinions. He was very pleased with the outcome. This is the piece I created from my husband challenging me: