Using Pastels on Canvas

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When painting on canvas using oil pastels, the larger size pastels work well to apply more medium into the nooks and crannies of the material. Blend colors together on canvas with creative tips from an art instructor in this free video on using oil pastels.

Part of the Video Series: Oil Pastel Techniques
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Video Transcript

I'm going to show you how you can use oil pastel on canvas. Canvas has usually a bumpier texture so it's a little bit different approach. I like to use the jumbo oil pastels because you have a lot of area to cover and you need to use a lot more material to fill in the spaces in the canvas. So I've done a simple composition of a sunset. I've sketched in with a black oil pastel. Simple strip of land and some sky and water. Since it's a sunset I'm going to add a little darkness to the top and have it be reflective symmetry so I can add a little to the bottom as well. Let's focus mainly on the sky for now. I'm starting with some dark tones and you'll notice I'm using big arms side to side. You don't want to let your arm go into a windshield wiper motion. Big, straight, horizontal strokes. Then you can work your way down from dark to light. So, you can streak across the canvas, adding some deep indigo tones. I'm pushing really hard to try to fill up the paint into the spaces of the canvas. I'm adding some soft pinks and letting it combine with the indigo for some rich tones. Getting the color brighter as I work my way down, adding some peach tones to brighten up the pink. As I get down near the horizon I want to leave lots of room for sunlight, for brightness. So here, I may add very little of the color, more white to soften and brighten the tones. I can even use the white in the darker areas to imagine some light is catching on the clouds up above. Also, some yellow towards the bottom will give a nice warm glow over the hills. So I've set it in as thick as I can and I'll start to do some blending horizontally where I need to to work in the color. I'll use a different finger for the darker areas. Trying to get the white of the canvas to disappear and get a nice, smooth effect. Switch back to my lighter finger. As I work I may do this initially and then use some more pastel to emphasize areas that I like. If I see clouds develop I'll thicken up the pastel in those areas. Remember the white is your most effective tool for blending the color, softening the tones and getting a unified effect to all your colors. If you continue to build up the color in this way you'll find a nice, bright, smooth glow to whatever you put on your canvas with the oil pastel.


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