I made a couple sketches a few days ago while wandering around a local gallery. They’re both 8.5 x 11 inches on thick white rag paper, drawn in pencil.
I’d call this about 99% finished. I need to fill in a few white specks of texture here and there, smoothing it out more.
I think on the next drawing like this I’ll first fill in the black areas by thinning the pastel with mineral spirits, and then brushing it on. Drawing on the heavy blacks makes the wax thicker than necessary.
I’ve started a new drawing using the chunk of charcoal oil pastel I made in my previous post. This picture is a composite of a couple photos of mine showing a woman and man running through a forest.
The surface I’m drawing on is a 16 x 20 inch wood panel primed with shellac. I found this surface takes the oil pastels very well, and is very easy to scratch back to the white surface beneath, if necessary.
I first lightly drew out the lines of the trees and figures with charcoal. I’m also using a black Cray-Pas stick to get a finer line than the big chunk of charcoal I made. A soft color-shaper tool helps with blending and smearing, as well as extending the lighter grey value marks.
Following up on my last post, I’ve made another oil and wax pastel, but this time I added charcoal powder. Now I can combine this with a pencil drawing without having to add charcoal in a separate step.
That pile of charcoal powder is about 2 ounces. I melted some beeswax and added mineral oil as in my previous post, and mixed it in with the charcoal until I had a firm paste.
I then pressed the mixture into a square mold I made out of aluminum foil. After it cooled, I removed it from the foil, and drew a test area on some drawing paper. I could easily smear the charcoal with a rubber-tipped colour shaper tool; although, not very far, or scratch through it with a penknife.
I had good results with my last drawing using graphite and a colorless oil pastel bar from the Sennelier company. I decided I would make my own, since they can be hard to find sometimes. It is very easy to do.
Bleached beeswax pellets, 1/2 ounce by weight
Food-grade mineral oil, 1/2 ounce by weight
Aluminum muffin cup as a mold
Digital kitchen scale for measuring
Electric coffee cup warmer to melt wax
I measured the beeswax and added enough oil to reach 1 ounce, then set it on the warmer until the wax was completely melted, and gave it a little stir. I then placed the muffin cup in the freezer for about half an hour to solidify it, and gently popped it out of the cup. The disk is about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, and 3/4 inches thick. It reminds me of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
The disk is a little bit oily and soft, but solid. Wrapping it in wax paper makes it comfortable to hold, and helps keep it clean. I chose the muffin cup since it was a handy ready-made form. If you want to make a bar or stick shape, any cylindrical form will work wrapped with some stiff aluminum foil. The melted wax and oil is very liquid, so make sure you don’t have any leaks. I’m using food-safe mineral oil that was sold for tempering wooden butcher blocks. It’s the purest form of mineral oil I could find. Paraffin oil sold as “lamp oil” can also be used, just be careful to read the ingredients, as they often add other things that you won’t need (other oils or waxes.) My disk feels less sticky than the Sennelier bar I had used in my drawing. They may have added damar resin to it. That’s a common encaustic medium ingredient, used to make the wax harder, but it’s not required for oil pastels.
Of course, a true oil pastel would include pigment, which is very easy to add. I would recommend about twice as much pigment as medium. Melt the wax with the oil as above, add that to the pigment, mix it into a paste, and let it cool.