Oil pastels allow artists to create art with vibrant colors on a variety of surfaces. Blending brilliant oil pastel colors enable artists to produce a significant hue of colors.
When artists try to blend oil pastels, they can experience difficulty because of the stickiness of the medium. An artist can blend oil pastels in many different ways, and each method will produce a different effect. Each of the following oil pastel blending techniques below will create a unique blended color for your oil pastel drawing.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase by clicking on an affiliate link, Nevue Fine Art Marketing may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Affiliate relationships include, but are not limited to, Bluehost, Tailwind, Skimlinks, SareASale and StudioPress. To learn more visit Affiliate Link Disclosure Policy
How To Apply Oil Pastels For Blending
Apply the darker values and gradually move to the lighter tones. Use enough pressure to cover the area without leaving any white space underneath the pastel.
Some artists give their drawing surface an acrylic color wash before applying the oil pastels over the dried acrylic background.
To create a gradient effect, you need to have two or more colors overlapping. Use the lighter pastels on top of the darker colors.
You might have to add a second layer of pastels if the first layer is not thick enough on the pastel paper. For best results, you need a thick layer of pastels for color mixing.
Choosing the right blending tools for your art project is just as important as choosing the right pastels. Make sure you have a variety of blending tools on hand so you can achieve different textures in your oil pastel painting designs.
Blending Oil Pastels With Your Finger
Applying your finger lightly to a particular area you want to blend is a common way to create a smooth transition. Make sure your fingers are clean, so you do not leave any unwanted lines, marks, or dirt on the surface. Have a roll of paper towels and wet wipes near your drawing table so you can wipe your hands between blending different colors.
Start by slowly moving your finger in a circular motion going from dark to light. Continue to blend the oil pastels until you get a blurred gradual transformation of color. Using your fingers will allow you to control how much pressure you apply and how much you blend.
Blend With Pastels
Another popular way to blend oil pastels is by mixing them with the pastel sticks themselves.
Start with the darker shades and when you get to an area where two colors meet. Use lighter circular motions so that the edges of the colors look blurry and hazy.
Do not over blend these colors because you may lose the intensity of color. You can always use this technique to incorporate a gradient effect with two shades of oil pastels. Using a lighter pastel on top of a darker can give your artwork a glimmering tone.
Many professional artists prefer to blend with pastels because they say that blending with their fingers or blending tools like cotton buds or blending stumps makes the colors less vibrant.
Blending Oil Pastels With A Blending Stump
Blending stumps work well for fine details and small areas like an eye, grass, or fur.
To blend with a stump, lightly drag the stump over the surface with a feathery touch. You can rub from dark to light or rub in circular motions both ways, producing a blended hue of color. Make sure you have a blending stump with enough texture so that it can pick up and deposit more pigment on the paper.
Use different stumps for different colors so you can create a variety of hues and gradients. Blending stumps work best when using soft pastels.
Popular Blending Stumps For Oil Pastels:
To blend colors on larger areas like a background you will have better results using your fingers.
Blending Oil Pastels With A Solvent
It is possible to achieve similar results to painting if you use a solvent to blend oil pastels.
Start with a small amount of solvent and add more if the color is not blending smoothly. If you add too much solvent, your paper or board can become saturated with a solvent, damaging the drawing surface. It is a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of paper if it is your first time working with a solvent.
Best Oil Pastels For Blending
There are many oil pastel brands available for artists to choose from for their oil pastel painting projects. Some brands are made with harder pigments, and some are made with softer pigments. The more delicate pigments are better for blending, while the harder pastels work better for finner details. It is up to artists to decide which brand they would like to use for their projects or mix brands to create more texture in their paintings.
Top Brands For Oil Pastels:
Sennelier Oil Pastels – This is a French brand that creates some of the best oil pastels for blending on the market today. These professional-grade oil pastels are smooth, creamy, and easy to apply. The soft formulation makes it easy to prevent breaking or crumbling during application. Sometimes this brand goes by the name of Sennelier Soft Pastels.
Caran d’Ache Neopastels – This is a Swiss company that makes oil pastels for artists. Neopastels are slightly harder than Sennelier oil pastel but not as hard as Stabilo All Pastel brands.
Holbein Artists’ Oil Pastels – This is another soft oil pastel that creates smooth color blending and texture. Work the color to create a rich pigment, then use an odorless thinner for flow and ease of application. The odorless thinner works well with the thick wax formula to allow for rich color saturation and smooth applications. Holbein oil pastels are also known as Holbein Soft Pastels.
There are student-grade oil pastels available but we only recommend using them for practicing different techniques. Always use artist-quality pastels for your finished work.
Best Surface For Blending Oil Pastels
You can blend oil pastels on any surface you like. There are many surfaces that work well for blending, but some surfaces may require first applying a primer or white gesso so the color sticks to the surface.
However, if you are interested in blending you will want to use thick, smooth paper for your art projects.
Ampersand Pastelboard – This is my personal favorite surface to blend oil pastels. It is smooth, thick, and has a matte finish that is perfect for blending color. Use an odorless thinner with Ampersand Pastelboard for easy color flow.
Arches Watercolor Paper 300lb – You can also blend oil pastels on Arches Watercolor 300lb paper. It has a smooth surface and is thick enough for oil pastel blending, but it does need to be primed first with gesso or white paint before applying the color.
Final Thoughts on Best Oil Pastel Blender
Blending oil pastels is a great way to add interest and depth to your artwork. Whether you are a beginner artist or a professional, you will find that blending oil pastels adds texture to your work that can’t be achieved with any other type of medium. Use softer pastels for the area you wish to blend and hard pastels for detailed work.