Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Oil Pastel Society

So, most of you who know the Dragon in human form, know that I sold art supplies for nigh on seven years. A common scenario at my favorite independently owned art supply store, would be the well-meaning parent/relative/family friend, who wanted to nuture some youngsters blossoming talents, but for obvious reasons couldn't set them up with a full painting studio. My usual recommedation would be oil pastels. Available in price ranges from a buck or two for a set of twenty, all the way to $4 or 5 a stick, Cray-pas a good all-purpose beginner's brand can be had for about $3 for a basic set. Add a couple of cheap brushes, and a basic oil painting medium (perferably something lacking really toxic solvents,) and you've got a great "gateway" oil painting set for about ten bucks.
"Gateway oil painting?" you ask.
Well sure! Harder oil pastels, like Cray-pas are more like crayons than traditional pastels in feel, function, and composition. Heck some of you probably remember using them elementary school. But the genius thing about them, and where they differ from crayons (which are just a colorant and wax) is that they are composed of artist's pigments, wax, and oil. Therefore they are greasier crayons, and with a little effort can be blended together for hands on learning of color-mixing. Best of all they can be manipulated with oil painting mediums and brushes, at which point they really do magically transform into paint, though still significantly less messy than tube paint. A talented youngster starts learning a lot of applied painting, things that can be intimidating even to talented adults, with something as familar to them as a crayon.
I could ( and probably will) rant about oil pastels at length. But for now, if I've piqued your couriousity about these magic little sticks of color, check the Oil Pastel Society. Especially check out their archive of instructional primers. There is plenty there to get you started.

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