I've been considering trying to do something with oil pastels for a little while, and my friend Aleda O'Connor, who has worked with them for some time, was very encouraging. Much as I love Aleda's approach (and I urge you to check out her blog) I wanted to do something different with them.
Recently, with my acrylic landscapes, the surface texture of the painting has become more and more important to me, to the point where I now regularly texture my panels with various rough grounds and use thick paint where I can. I was hoping that using oil pastels over top of such an acrylic underpainting would yield some interesting results.
So, during a recent landscape class, I coated an acrylic underpainting with clear gesso and took the oil pastels to it. I was very pleased with the results.
I have also been looking for an approach to figure painting that would allow me a more expressive, gritty feel. I took an abandoned demo of a landscape underpainting and coated it with a pastel ground. I made a very rough, blocky carbon pencil drawing of a figure and overpainted thin acrylic washes to emphasize warm and cool areas, then went to town with the oil pastels. Again, I am very pleased with this little experiment, I think it shows a lot of promise.
Next, I'm going to try some still life or floral compositions, and see how those suit me. I may be on to my next obsession...