Oil pastels are wonderful. They flow like butter across any flat surface with a good tooth, especially museum board, which is what I mainly use. Oil pastels are not to be confused with the more delicate and finicky chalk pastels. These work like sticks of oil paint, offering both an ideal medium for sketching as well as painting. It's really the best of both worlds.
I'm at my loosest painting with oil pastels, and yet I can easily control them for tighter, more complicated or realistic works requiring the same advantages of opacity and blending offered by regular oil paints, but without the prep and drying time. However not all oil pastels are created equal. The best ones in the world are made in Japan by Holbein and offer a constant mineral-base color system that flows better than any other brand I've ever tried.
I've done quite a bit of work over the years a particular 4-ply board called Museum Board. It's an amazing acid-free cloth fiber board that has a wonderful tooth for all sorts of art media, particularly oil pastels. These are just the first few pieces I've added to this gallery. There will be many more added over the next days and weeks to come.
About Oil Pastels
Oil Pastels were first conceived and developed in Japan in the 1920s as a higher quality alternative to wax crayons. These early pastels used a mixture of paraffin wax with stearic acid and pigments bound with coconut oil which allowed for a better flow of the colors. But they were still more a crayon than today's professional artist's pastels.
The modern age of oil pastels began after WWII when in 1947 Pablo Picasso convinced Henri Sennelier, a French manufacturer of high quality artists materials, to make a set of oil pastels which would become the top rated oil pastels for the next 40 years.
My experience with Sennelier oil pastels is that their vegetable-based formulation make them structurally inconsistent with some colors quickly hardening as others become too creamy or soft. The colors are strong but unstable and limited to about 50 or so as I recall.
In the mid 1980s Holbein came out with a much superior line of oil pastels with an enormous range of 225 colors. Holbein's pastels are mineral based and far more stable and consistent in structure. And rather than being round, Holbein's oil pastels are rectangular which I find is a much better shape for detailed renderings.
The main limitation to Hobein's line of oil pastels is that they're very expensive and hard to get hold of. At one time I was sponsored by the Holbein company in Japan where they used one of my pastel paintings on the cover of their boxed set of colors.
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About Museum Board
The type of board I use for my art is a 4-ply Museum Board made from 100% cotton fiber which is acid-free and pH neutral, making it ideal for both art and art preservation purposes. The reason it’s called Museum Board is because it is the preferred archival material used by most museums and galleries around the world.
It not only meets the strict Library of Congress Standards for image permanence, but provides an excellent and durable surface for all sorts of art media, particularly oil Pastels. For those not familiar with the oil pastels, they are in essence hardened sticks of oil paint. I prefer mineral-based Holbein oil pastels which are in my experience the best oil pastels in the world for consistency and colour permanence.
Not to be confused with powdery chalk pastels, oil pastels are opaque and cover surfaces almost as well as oil paint, except there is no drying time required as there is with oil paints. I may go into the properties of oil paints and oil pastels in more detail later.
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