Blue 'Tude: How to mix oil and chalk pastels

"Blue 'Tude"
8 x 11 Pastel (oil and chalk) and China Pencil on paper
Click here to buy print:

What started as a sketch while I was in the waiting room at the hospital turned into a full-blown learning experience with china marker, oil, and chalk pastel.

I like to sketch with the china marker, because it's nice and loose (and you can't erase!) Unfortunately, my toddler discovered that she enjoys sketching with the china marker too. She especially enjoys sketching ON my work, and had a great time scribbling all over the reference photo as well. Of course, I smiled and let her do it-- what else is an artist mom supposed to do? I can always make a new sketch.

I rather liked the sketch I had, though, scribbles and all. So, I figured some oil pastel would blend nicely with the china marker, and maybe cover up some of those scribbles. I got a pretty good picture down with the oil pastel and china marker; however, it needed some softer tones. So, atop the oil pastel, I began to rub some chalk pastel. You almost have to do it like a leaf rubbing-- vary how hard you push down on the chalk, and let the texture underneath show through in some areas.

Once you've started adding the chalk, stay away from the oil pastels-- china marker will go on top of chalk just fine, though. To bring the different mediums together, I used a soft, dry brush to blend. For added texture (like the whiskers), I alternately used a painting knife, my fingernail, and the end of my paintbrush to scratch off some of the top layer. I recommend the end of your brush.

This activity is not for the faint of heart-- you really have to rub in that chalk layer. After you feel the picture is where you want it, you'll need to take some of your darkest darks and highlight a few spots with the chalk, because the oil tends to absorb the chalk and give the whole thing a fuzzy look. The chalk pastel won't move like it would in a strictly chalk painting, and the oil won't show the strokes as well as it would in a strictly oil pastel work. I enjoyed the push and pull of the texture, though. I also think I'll use some sharper pastels or pastel pencils next time for those detailed areas.

I also learned that china marker rubs off of photographs with a paper towel-- now I can draw moustaches on photos and erase them so no one sees afterward.


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