Landscape painting forum: advice for doing landscapes with oil pastels?

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Oct 7, 2010 7:37 AM CST
Dorothy - I so admire your work.

Sharran has encouraged me in an idea I have. I was really into watercolors and played with other mediums in high school and my early 20s. I did take some classes at an art college. Recently - at age 52, I decided to try again. I have not picked up a brush or any type of art in at least 25 years. I always loved to do landscapes - especially farm fields and old barns. Well, believe it or not I still had my tubes of watercolors - and most were still in ok shape! I've bought brushes, paper etc. I also bought some oil pastels - two different brands - 50 color box of Pentel and 48 color box of Gallery. Not the highest quality, but ok, I hope, to try them out. Other than the various watercolor papers that I bought, I got a couple "Moleskin" small watercolor sketch books. I found only one type of paper that said it was for oil pastel - something called canvaskin by Aquabee. So I bought that. I also bought a large set of watercolor pencils.

I have never used watercolor pencils or oil pastels. I've had these supplies for over a month and not put any color on any paper yet.

I checked out several books from the library - Sharran sent me a couple too. I found I really like Cathy Johnson's watercolor books. After getting them from the library, I bought the ones I liked, used, from Amazon. But, I could only find two books on oil pastel and they were not very informative, so I did not buy them.

I'd like help with a couple things.

I'm having trouble getting started. I think I am afraid that I won't have the same talent or "hand" that I used to, and as long as I don't get started, I won't fail. I've been taking lots of photos as fall comes on here in Ohio to use to make paintings - but I just can't seem to get going. Has anyone been away from art for many years and started into it again that can give me some advice on getting started?

Oil Pastel - I know you said you use soft pastels. I don't understand the difference between oil pastel and soft pastel.

Any advice on how to use the oil pastels? I have an idea what I want to do with them - I mean a first project - but I don't know how to get going. I'd like to do a "copy" of a small oil painting I bought at an art show - it is only the size of an index card, and the subject would be good to use for practice. Normally I would not copy another person's work, but this little painting seems to me to be a perfect thing to try the oil pastels with.

Would I first start by putting a background layer of green over the entire area, then adding the yellow and other colors on top of that? I am confused because I don't know if I should treat the pastels like regular oils? I have done 3 or 4 oil paintings in my life. My brain thinks watercolors because that is what I worked with the most - start with lights, work to darks, but with the pastels, my instincts tell me to start in the distance and work forward.

Here is the little painting.... Sorry, I did not get the artist's name. She is in the local plein air society that I would love to have the courage to join. I like how this painting is impressionistic and freely done. That is something I need to work on, when I look back at my past work.


Thumb of 2010-10-07/daylily/f0bcb8
Oct 7, 2010 8:52 AM CST
Name: Dorothy
ADK mountains

I am also 52, didn't paint for 25 years, and every day still think, maybe this won't work!!! Including today when my goal was to finish my gourds watercolor started two weeks ago.

Soft pastels are like chalk, that is, dry pigment, whereas oil pastels have an oily base for the pigment (like lipstick I think!)

The painting you are thinking of working from is kind of impressionistic, so there isn't a need to do much drawing, and there's an overall distribution of light and shadow. (Normally I would sketch my placement of objects (composition) and then lay in values (darks and lights which are usually in a more pronounced pattern)

In this case I would probably lay in the oranges since those will need to be kept clean for contrast from the greens, and then I would lay in the darks (not just dark green, it looks like there is some blue in it, and also purples could work great) and then work on the bright greens in the middle.

THe nice thing is how the oranges pop in the painting, and the bright greens in the middle ground.

In order to accomplish that you are mainly using complementary colors (IE the orange vs. the bluish green shadows), with the yellowy tones of both the orange and bright greens uniting the part when the sunlight is hitting.

THe sunny area then contrasts with the dark shadows, in which blues will complement and pop the orange, and bits of purples will contrast with the yellowy greens.

Now, go to it and post the results.

Also a brush with a little turpentine will "melt" the pastel and you can push your drawing around like paint, which is also fun.

Good luck!!!
Oct 7, 2010 5:52 PM CST
I remembered the similarity to our stories .... One reason I decided to post here... You had a lot more and a lot better teachers, classes, college than I did. My high school art teacher could out teach and out paint anyone I had in my college classes and that was at an art school.

Thanks so much for the advice on the pastels. I would have had all the background laid in and then tried to put the flower colors etc. in..... and then found out I needed to do the lighter colors first.

I'm still busy tomorrow with some stuff, but I sure hope I can get up the courage and put color to paper in some form over the weekend. It is scary after all these years.

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