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Art supplies Drawing Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Studio

Painting Pt. Bonita Part 2: Oils and Oil Pastels

Point Bonita #3, Oil on Gessobord Panel, 12x9"
Point Bonita #3, Oil on Gessobord Panel, 12x9"

After I did the watercolors I posted yesterday, I set up the sketch, the watercolor and my iPad displaying the photo on the table beside my easel and painted the scene once again, this time with oil paint. After a month or two of being totally frustrated with oil painting, trashing everything I made and about ready to give it up, suddenly painting was easy and I was loving it!

Point Bonita Painting set up in studio
Point Bonita Painting set up in studio

The entire painting worked like a charm except the foreground mount of dirt and ice plant which was the last thing I painted and which I did over and over. It kept trying to call too much attention to itself. I think I finally successfully muted that foreground while still keeping the light on it.

Then I was looking at some delightfully free and vibrant oil pastel work on Aletha Kuschan’s blog which inspired me to try the scene in oil pastels too. I know nothing about oil pastels so I quickly read a few how-to’s on the web and dug in.

BUT before I show you the drawing, I have to say that I made a fatal misstep: I chose a sheet of the totally wrong paper to work on. Instead of starting small on a sheet of white or blue pastel paper, I chose a large sheet of brown Stonehenge drawing paper. What was I thinking? Brown under a turquoise sea?

Point Bonita #4, Oil pastel on Stonehenge paper, 17x13"
Point Bonita #4, Oil pastel on Stonehenge paper, 17x13"

It was impossible to cover all the brown paper because even though the oil pastels got really thick in some areas—so thick that no more could be applied—in other spots they just wouldn’t cover.

Although my Holbein Oil Pastels are very old, purchased for a small project I did more than 20 years ago, they were still in good shape. But I didn’t have the right colors, and I had trouble blending. I didn’t have blending stumps, didn’t want to use my fingers and was wearing gloves which didn’t work. I tried a paper towel but it just smeared and left paper towel lint.

Compared to paint, oil pastels seems like a lot of extra work, having to fill in so much area by scribbling over and over. And it was messy; my gloves and the pastels got dirty from colors transferring onto them.

But maybe if I knew what I was doing, or had used the right paper it would have been easier or less messy? (Not to say that oil painting isn’t messy! Everything I own has paint on it!) I like the look of oil pastels done well so I’ll try another experiment with them. But on the right paper this time! Any tips?