Friday, 7 September 2012

Bright and bold tomatoes and kiwi, oil pastels

Last week I bought another bike (not so pretty as my Pashley, but LIGHT!) and when I told the owner of the shop (Bike Dock, Ravenhill Road) that I teach drawing, he offered me a supply of art materials that he had lying at the back of his warehouse, free..! At a price like that, I couldn't refuse. The box included lots of Oil Pastels, in a brand I'd not heard of before, called Guitar. The box looks pretty vintage (and I do love a nice box - especially when the instructions are on the lid), and the pastels themselves are the best I've ever used. 


They were fairly soft to use, not at all scratchy, and blended well by layering, by painting with turps (in a similar way to using water with water-soluble pencils) and even by vigourously rubbing with the finger - which was incredibly satifying!

As with all chunky mediums, the trick with using oil pastels is to work large. VERY large.

Top left is my demo drawing, surrounded by students trials.
You can see from the photos that the drawings are much larger than the actual tomatoes and kiwis. Working to this scale offers real challenges to students, but gives plenty of room to manipulate the colour. Oil pastels are, like colour pencils, an underrated medium, but they are excellent for changing our work process and keeping out of our comfort zone... (yes, yes, I can hear you all asking, WHAT comfort zone...?!), including NOT working delicately, but using Elbow Grease instead.

Kiwi by student John McI.

Jeannie F. 

Thomas McC
Thomas R and Jean R. 
Ruth T.
Ciara C. 

Marks out of ten for Guitar Oil Pastels? Ten, hoorah!

For info on courses in drawing, water colour, oils, portraiture and portfolio preparation, email

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