Tag Archives: Sennelier oil pastels

Brush and Pencil

I am regularly asked about applying oil pastels with a brush.  Here is what I do…

brushes and oil pastel in front of my current work-in-progress.

To apply oil pastel undercoat (as you see in this image) I use a size 1 bristle brush.  The brush on the left started off looking like the brush next to it.  Its bristles have been eroded by pushing oil pastel pigment onto the Arches Aquarelle paper.  However a worn-down brush works just fine for my purpose so I will keep using it until I decide to throw it away.  Bristle brushes are inexpensive and easily replaceable.  I go through a brush every two or three drawings.

If I only need a dab of colour I take it directly off the pastel with my brush.  I don’t even need to take the pastel out of its box to do this.

Taking the colour directly off the pastel while it stays in its box.

If I know I am going to need a lot of one colour or I want to mix colours, I slice bits of pastel off with a palette knife and mix the colours on a palette.  (Because the pigment is greasy/sticky pastel I find a ceramic surface makes the best palette ie. a small plate.)   Using mixed pastels on a palette is almost exactly like using oil paint.  Mixed oil pastel pigment on a palette doesn’t dry out so it can be used next day/next week…no problem.

Applying pastel to paper with a brush is a lot like painting with oils.  I plot the areas of colour onto the paper in a general way.  All the fine nuances of colour and detail will be put on with coloured pencils when the pastel undercoat is finished.

If I am making a major change of colour (ie. from purple to pale yellow) then I clean the brush thoroughly with solvent, though wiping the brush with tissue paper between colour changes is usually enough.  With most colour changes I tend to dry-wipe the brush.

If you look back at the top image you will see the very wide bristle brush.  I use this to sweep over pencil AND pastel to blend and soften.  A good example is the image below…

“Time and Space”

In the drawing “Time and Space” pencil has been worked into the pastel.  I have repeatedly brushed across the drawing with the large bristle brush pushing the pencils and pastels together – merging and softening.  Quite often after doing this I will apply more pencil and then repeat the brushing – until I have the effect I want.  WARNING:  If I brush over the top of the red rose with my wide brush I might get red pigment into the surrounds so I am careful not to do this.

In “Time and Space” I wanted a subtle look so I used Caran d’Ache Neopastels for the background undercoat.   They are drier and more gentle than Sennelier pastels.  Only for the bold red rose I used Sennelier.

“Day Trip to Giverny” – I also made the choice of using Neopastels for the entire background undercoat except for the foliage closest to the viewer which I undercoated with Sennelier.  NB:  I don’t slice off bits of Neopastel with a palette knife the way I do with Sennelier.  Neopastel, being harder and drier, doesn’t lend itself to being mixed on a palette the way the more buttery soft Sennelier does.

“Day Trip to Giverny”

I find using oil pastels with coloured pencils much more satisfying than using pencils by themselves.  I feel this combination is a bridge back towards painting – in fact I have given it the name “dry painting“.

I am often asked if I use fixatives or varnishes with this combination.  No, nothing.

“Enchanted April”
November 2017
Sennelier pastels and coloured pencils.

The marriage of oil pastels with coloured pencils gives a work substance and momentum.

The drawing I am working on currently.  This is how it looked last week.

You may see the finished drawing on the post Walking with Claude

PS:  Don’t worry about getting exact undercoat colours because the coloured pencils over the top will modify the colours to perfection.

A cautionary tale:  some artists who use coloured pencils like to brush off pencil dust with a big brush (rather like a brush-and-pan kind of brush).  Don’t indiscriminately do this when using oil pastels.  Oil pastels are oily and sticky.  A piece of pastel dust in the wrong area is likely to smear if you sweep it into your page – and it will not be removable.  Instead, blow it off your paper or if your breath isn’t strong enough, simply lift it off gently with the point of a brush, pencil or putty eraser.  Simple.

See also ART MATERIALS page

Another relevant page is MIXED MEDIA IMPRESSIONISM

Night Moves shows another example of this technique, before and after coloured pencil was added to the oil pastels.

 

Treading the Boards

“Treading the Boards”
Coloured pencils and Sennelier oil pastels.
225 x 275 mm.
August 2017

In a theatrical setting; the port of Fremantle lit by morning sunshine, a seagull steps along a wooden plank with the studied deliberation of an actor treading the boards.

This drawing will be one of 21 Julie Podstolski drawings exhibited at Kidogo Arthouse, Bathers Beach, Fremantle, from 7th September 2017 (for two weeks) – with ceramics by Stewart Scambler.   

Once Upon a Wall

“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017

Once upon a wall there was a corroding remnant of street art.  Only a head and shoulder remained.  Whatever the rest of the image was had long gone.  It had presumably cracked up then flaked off, washed and blown away over time in brittle particles.

But look again.  The peeling layers of paint have transformed into tulle!

Once upon a wall there was a princess from a fairy tale; an apparition of Marie Antoinette; a dancer from Les Folies Bergère; a Belle Époque courtesan (maybe Camille herself);  or perhaps Saint-Säens’ Dying Swan.

I was touched by the vision of this tattered graceful wallflower – enough to prolong her life and give her a new audience by drawing her.

During the course of my drawing I searched the internet to find the street artist and see what the paste-up had once looked like.  The artist goes by the name of Sobr.  The original was a head-to-toe paste-up of a woman dancing in bandeau and shorts.  Weather and time have combined to transform the figure from nonchalant female to tragic romantic heroine.

Of course you might simply see a dirty wall.  And you wouldn’t be wrong.  We each bring our own stories and interpretations to that which we encounter.

Here are two more figures by Sobr which I photographed.  The subject of my drawing had been similar stylistically to these.  Sobr made a series of stencils of dancing women which he called his “It’s Time to Dance” project.


Technical note:  I used Sennelier oil pastels (a French brand) to ‘map’ in the colours on the paper before I put any pencils on.  Here is a detail of Sennelier under-colour before pencils were applied.  The addition of oil pastel adds to the richness and saturation of the finished coloured pencil drawing.

How it began:  initial layer of colour applied with Sennelier oil pastels, using a bristle brush to push the colour into the paper.

This image shows the range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.

Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you a comparison). The biggest one only comes in black and white.  So far I have been using the smallest size.

This drawing has won the Drawing Prize at the City of Stirling Art Award & Exhibition 2017.

Sideshow Alley

“Sideshow Alley” drawn with coloured pencils and Sennelier oil pastels.
213 x 230 mm. May 2017

Boulevard de Clichy in Pigalle is a busy strip of peep shows, sex shops, clubs and bars.  In search of bright lights as well as photos of Moulin Rouge, I went there one evening last October.

I have always had a fascination for fairgrounds – the scariness of them.  Pigalle with its neon kaleidoscope and promises of thrills is just like a fairground – a tawdry extravaganza of colour, people and noise.  By day it is simply sad but at night it bursts into showy splendor.  (Day or night you need to watch your back.)

A few months back I did a drawing of Moulin Rouge which I called “Show Time” also from this particular visit.  The two drawings make a good pair.

“Show Time”
November 2016

“Sideshow Alley”
May 2017

“Sideshow Alley” is an overcoat of coloured pencils – worked into an undercoat of Sennelier oil pastels.

Caran d’Ache Open Stock in Australia

imageI have just found a shop in Sydney which sells open stock of all Caran d’Ache coloured pencils including the gorgeous Luminance.  The staff told me that they are Australia’s biggest stockists of Caran d’Ache art materials and that they post all over Australia.

Every type of boxed set is in the shop however I am more excited to share news of open stock with my Australian coloured pencil friends.

The name is Kadmium Art + Design supplies.  The address is 80b Bay Street, BROADWAY NSW  2007.  Phone 02 9212 2669.  Website is Kadmium.com.au

As I had limited time (due to my imminent return flight to Perth) I was not able to explore the whole shop. All I could do during my quick visit was to check out the Caran d’Ache range, buy some blenders and chat to the staff.  It was the icing on the cake of my Sydney trip to find this shop…quite by chance.

Other Caran d’Ache pencil ranges included Pablos, Museum Aquarelle and Supracolor. Neocolor crayons and Neopastels were available in boxes and singles.  Plus there were all manner of paints, pens and papers.  (They also have open stock of Sennelier oil pastels.)

When I get home I will add all this information to my Art Materials page.  I just have to fly across the continent first.

Several hours later: home again.

"Alone in the Upper Marais" is a drawing with Luminance coloured pencils.

“Alone in the Upper Marais”
is a drawing using Luminance coloured pencils.

PS:  Since first finding Kadmium Art + Design Supplies, I have returned several times, made many purchases plus talked to the owners who are dedicated to the artists they supply to.   I highly recommend this art supply store.  It is a treasure trove.

"Nearly Dusk" an impression of rue Quincampoix drawn with Luminance. December 2016

“Nearly Dusk”
an impression of rue Quincampoix drawn with Luminance.
December 2016