Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Start an Oil Pastel Drawing

This post is in response to a student who will be missing class this Saturday. (Darn that PSAT.) We'll be starting color, using oil pastels.

I rarely demonstrate for my students. I prefer for them to jump in, up to their necks, splash around, and figure things out. I want their drawings to look like their drawings, not mine. But for the beginning of our exploration into color, I do demonstrate. A little. Another reason I don't demonstrate very often is that I simply LOVE to draw. I will draw, and draw, and draw, my students waiting patiently behind me, while I have a jolly time all the way. But instead, my students could have been at work on their own drawings, having their own jolly good time.

So now, a quick example from a student:

This is the first step in a well developed, beautifully mixed, oil pastel color drawing.

We start with white and two blues. We begin to build the form of the objects, making them appear 3-dimensional. Remember how we used the eraser to create lights in the charcoal drawings? Now use the white pastel.

Think about the form (shape) of the object and how the object turns away from the light source. As it turns away, it will get darker. Switch to the middle-blue pastel. Then, as it gets really in shadow, switch to the darker blue.

BUT WATCH OUT! Don't let your color get too thick! Notice in the example how the grey paper is always showing through. You aren't creating a blue drawing - just a beginning of form. Lots more needs to happen with all those beautiful colors in your box. If you get the blues too heavy, your final drawing will look either childlike or muddy.

Look back up that blue and white drawing. Notice the color on the Easter egg? Now look at the drawing below:

That same Easter egg is now a reddish-orange. She used a little of the compliment (or opposite) in the darkest areas of that egg. The opposite of red is green; yellow - purple; orange - blue.

Now look at that little yellow cube. Look again. One more time. Is it gorgeous? Yes! Is it gorgeous because a little plastic cube is an amazingly interesting object? No. It is gorgeous because she slowly built up color (blue, white, pink, purple, orange) in the darker spots, and used the local color (yellow) to unify them. The only place where it's just yellow is in the brightest spots where the light shines directly on it.

And be sure, before you go off to start your own amazing drawing, that you take a close look at browns in the little wooden block.



noho1960 said...

Yep. It's spot on. No need to think twice whatsoever. Can we go pastel soon? thankyouverymuch.

Jeanie Frias said...

Noho - still want to start up a class?