How to Color With Oil Pastels

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When coloring in oil pastels, lay down a layer of a basic color, start incorporating darker shadow tones and add the highlights at the end. See how opaque pastels can be blended and layered 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'd like to show you a little bit how to use color in oil pastel. I have chosen a very simple subject simple composition of a green pear and a red apple and want to show some basics about adding color and blending color. So to get started I might just begin I have small oil pastels and some larger ones and I might begin by just filling in color to get the basic color. Since it is green I'm going to start with green and using the stroke work to emphasize the roundness of it, there we go and from there try to build up some contrasts. Since the pear is rounder in the middle here I want this part to be coming at you so I'll make it a little bit lighter and up on top we might see a little more light. I'm trying to imagine that there's more light coming from the left side so I might emphasize that as well and in contrast add some darker tones along the right and since it's in green, I'd like to include some yellow in the brighter areas and also I like adding a little yellow around the edge of it to kind of add to the highlight. There is a reflective light that would bounce off the table on to the bottom of the pear and I think by adding a little yellow tone around the edge it helps the whole pear stand out from the background, from the table and you notice how I am using the pastel. I am curving to follow the form, at times I'm adding color, at times I'm using it lightly as a blender and I may add a little shine, a little stem, maybe a little highlight and I've got the basic form of the pear. I would do the same with the apple beginning with red and adding the lighter and darker tones so for red some of the lighter tones would also be the orange to soften the red. I would also include some yellow and I would add some of the deeper darker reds or some of the blues or blue greens I did in the apple. So I may have my deeper tones there. This is a little bit more built up. This is a little bit more crayony and you can play with it by blending with your fingers or building it up layer by layer as you go. Don't forget to add a little dimple in the top of the apple and keep using your strokes to make it curved to emphasize the shape of the apple and you'll notice even though the apple is red I may try a little yellow around the edge to build up the form. Use the pastel as both adding something, that is adding color but also as your blender to try to establish the shape and form and have the colors transition one to the other. As I'm blending I'm also imagining the apple is round so I'm following the shape of it and trying to give a three dimensional effect. As you work on it you'll see where you need to add a little bit more highlight, where you need to add some more shadow to bring out the form and if you want to take a look at this you can see the general idea of how you have a contrast of lights and darks and a sharing of colors. I tried to reunite them by adding some blue in the pear and a little bit of blue in the apple so that they seem to work well together in the composition.

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