Oil Pastel for Beginners

Introducing oil pastels to beginners in high school is important especially if you'd like them to mix mediums later in the year or in upper level courses. When I start students in oil pastels, we often begin with exploring or testing out 5 basic techniques or marks. This year, we went with Stippling, Hatching, Cross Hatching, Curves and Blending in warm colors along with cool colors.

Each technique uses 2 colors. For Stipple I used blue for the top half, red for the bottom half which allowed the colors to mix or blend along the center. Hatching was done with yellow and light blue. Yellow for the bottom half, light blue for the top half with them blending through the middle. Cross Hatching was done with yellow green and green. Green was cross hatched across the bottom with yellow green across the top. The result is a nice feathering of both colors. Curve simply used short dash marks along a curve path.

After an intro to the basic techniques, students draw several sketches of different plants. Since oil pastels are soft and difficult to control for small details, I guide students toward simple flowers or plants with large petals and leaves. The goal is to have a drawing with large enough shapes to fully demonstrate the marks previously practiced. Students then draw a final draft on large paper.

This assignment, students were to choose 2 different marks or techniques. For example: hatching for inside the plant, stippling for the background. To continue the theme of Contrast, students decided on contrasting colors. For example: blue and violet for inside the plant, yellow and orange for the background. The result is a bright, bold picture with tons of visual texture.

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