I haven’t always drawn with coloured pencils. My first “serious” medium was oil pastel in the early 1980s. My first major exhibition in 1982 was with oil pastels on heavy watercolour paper with a rough surface. I have included four examples from that exhibition.
Top: Quamby Bluff, Meander Valley. Second: Creek, Mount Owen, West Coast. Third: Eldon Valley, West Coast. Fourth: Surprise Valley, West Coast.
I first chose oil pastels because they were strong and gutsy. I saw them as “oil paint in stick form” and loved their directness. Oddly enough, as you can see in the examples, I blended the colours, often scraping back layers to bring other colours through. I actually obtained a softness to my work which had been lacking up until then with my oil and acrylic paintings.
As I was to find out later, oil pastels work best when the colours are laid down side by side. I stuck with this medium for a number of years and my work began to become more simplified; I was experimenting.
For some reason many people associated oil pastels with wax crayons, in other words, kids’ stuff. I did sell my work but not as well as I had hoped for. The ‘softer, gentler” pastels were much more popular with art patrons.
The oil pastel was invented in Japan in 1924 as an improvement to the wax crayon invented there in 1921. Oil pastels today are vastly superior in all aspects and have much to offer artists. It’s a matter of educating the public in regards to the potential of this medium.
Looking back at my earlier work I see that I tried to use the pastels as a soft medium, instead of using the colours side-by-side. One should use the medium as the medium should be used. When I moved into chalk pastels sometime later, I began using them in a hard-edged way, not soft as they were intended. Sounds confusing? It’s more about trying a variety of mediums until you find the right one!
Tomorrow: More examples and commentary.