What Are Oil Pastels And How To Use Them

Oil painting is trendy among painters, but oil pastel colors are not standard among them. They are technical and a little hard to handle, but proper teaching and practice make everything easy.

Drawing is a process of constant thinking and constant correction. If you think and plan before we perform any action, it will increase work efficiency and reduce the effort you put into when something wrong happens.

Oil Pastels For Painting

Drawing by oil pastels, color us the same. If you think before drawing every stroke, there will be no mistake, and you are not ruining your art. Because in oil pastels, it is tough to recover from any error.

The following article explains what oil pastels are and how to use them. In the end, we will be making a beautiful piece of art using the rules we learn here.

What are Oil Pastels?

Oil pastels are made up of pigments that are held together by linseed oil. It is similar to soft pastels (chalk) but oily. They are not hard enough and change their shape when pressed due to the presence of oil.

Oily consistency produces a painterly effect, which takes drawing to the next level. The painterly effect is referred to the painting in a loose and less controlled manner. It draws attention toward the delicacy of pattern, texture, and design of the picture.

Oil pastels are used in the same manner as pencils, crayons, or chalks. All of them perform their task by drawing or sketching on the surface on the canvas, cardboard, or other surfaces.

Similarities with other color paints

Oil pastels have similarities with other pastels in their composition, texturing, painting strategies, and layering behavior.


Oil pastels have lots of similarities with crayons. Oil pastels behave like wax-based crayons. Both of them change their shape when apply pressured. When used for drawing, both consumed quickly. Both oil pastels and wax-based crayons are oily. Therefore, both are suitable to draw on the canvas, as the canvas is fibrous. When the second or third layer is added, the medium becomes buttery, and color mixed and behaves like paint. It is hard to paint in this situation.

Oil Pastels For Painting

Soft Pastels

Oil pastels are less powdery than soft pastels due to linseed oil in oil pastels; soft pastels are tricky due to no moisture. Due to the complex nature of soft pastels, they blend more quickly than oil pastels because oil pastels are greasy. They can be layered like soft pastels but to some extend if handled carefully.

When too many pastels are used, they create muddy colors, which eventually destroy the painting. Another downside of pastels is that they take up the previous value of the space. So, when using oil pastels, be careful when using them. Only use it at the place where they need to be.

Step-by-step guide; how to draw with oil pastels

Oil pastels draw the same way as pencil and crayon do, by sketching and drawing. The method to remove some shapes out of pastels is technical but easy to follow. Specific steps need to be followed to paint/sketch oil pastels. This is because oil pastels got consume easily. If created buttery muddy color, it will ruin the painting, and all the effort put into it will be in vain.

Following are the general steps to make drawing/painting out of oil painting.

1. Begin the drawing with the outline of the object.

2. Establish the shape of the object, add some value to it by adding some color.

3. Establish darker values of the sketch first, like shadows.

4. Blend the pastels; it creates a smooth and seamless transition between the two colors.

5. Darker colors of the same tone and black paint are used to make shadows darker.

6. Now, add highlights to your drawing. White color is mainly used to draw highlights.

7. Adjust highlights and shadows to make the image stunning.

8. Draw background.

Drawing any painting is accessible than preserving it. Some paints never dry whatever we do. Different techniques are developed to dry, hardened, or firm so that art may not disturb. In some cases, unlike oil pastels, oil dries over time, but linseed oil does not dry even after a long time. Following are some methods to dry/seal the oil pastels painting.

Methods to seal Oil Pastels

Oil pastels don’t dry themselves because oil pastels are non-water-based colors. They don’t combine with acrylic either, so that acrylic paints dry, and as a result it oil paints dry as well. If there is a small portion of oil paints in acrylics, they will dry in few hours, but if the amount is high, you have to use other methods.

Glass Framing

The easy method is framing them in the glass, but it is a risky method. If your frame experiences a considerable push, there is a chance that some paint from some portion of the painting may come off.

Oil Pastels For Painting

Fixative Varnish

The other method is using fixative varnish. You can paint on oil pastels; although they are never scorched, they harden over time.


Like any other pains and colors, oil pastels can create incredible images. They can make stunning supper landscapes, beautiful apples, and realistic portraits. All of it is possible if used correct method to create art of any type.

Oil pastels are greasy and slippery and are hard to handle. If used calmly and held gently, they can create flammable images.

Oil pastels have similarities with other colors, including crayons soft pastels. If anyone has experience with these colors in making art, they provide a significant push.

Oil pastels painting is sealed simply by framing, but fixative varnish is used to lower the chance of damage. It does not fully dry the oil pastel but hardens over time.