Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oil vs. Pastel ...Which is Better?

'Sedona Surprise'             5x7       oil on panel          ©Karen Margulis sold


Pastels are my very close friends. I have my favorites. I know how they work. We are just easy and comfortable together. Painting with my pastels is like lunch with close friends. Fun and relaxed with no need for unnecessary small talk.  Oils on the other hand are new friends. I'm still learning how they work, what I can do with them. What I need to avoid. Excited to get together and paint with them for the sheer joy of discovery.

I have been dabbling with oil paints for a little over a year. I say dabble because I don't take them out enough.  I usually turn first to my good friends, pastels.  So often I hear that oils are better than pastels....that they are held in higher esteem. I decided to try oils not for this reason though. I was convinced that learning how to mix my colors would help me become a better pastelist. And because I thought it might be easier for plein air. Less stuff to cart around!

What I discovered it that I might just like oils just as much as pastels. But for different reasons.

  • I love the vibrancy and luminosity of pastels but I LOVE the texture I can get with oils.
  • I love seeing brushstrokes in my paintings, something that I can't really do with pastels. Sure we can get the illusion of brushstrokes with a textured support but it isn't the same.
  • I love the effortless texture I can get with oil paint. Thick paint either by brush or palette knife can't be duplicated.  I have found ways to build up pastel and get some texture but it takes work. You can't just pile on thick piles of pastel.


'Down the Dusty Path'     8x10   pastel
So I am still on my honeymoon with my oils. We still have a long way to go before we are old friends. I know that it will take many miles of canvas before that happens.  And now that I can leave my paints set up in my newly organized studio, I am planning to keep the paint wet!
I want to encourage anyone who has been tempted to try a new medium to jump in and give it a try. Make new friends and watch how it will enrich the relationships you have with your old friends!

Today's painting is a 5x7 oil  of the same place shown in the above pastel painting.

1 comment:

Tim Moore said...

i have been trying watercolor..from pastel to full strength? watercolor..using it like like oil, sometimes a dab of water, but mostly, just straight out of the tube..quite different, but enjoyable..