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Can You Use Oil Pastels on Canvas?

can you use oil pastels on canvas

A beginner artist’s best friend is a set of oil pastels. This painting medium comes from waxes, pigments, and oils shaped into sticks. Oil pastels can be used as a crayon to draw on a surface. You can also mix it with a small amount of turpentine or other oils to make it oil paint.

Oil pastels are simple to use. They spread very well on any surface and create vibrant colors that give off a smooth texture. The colors blend without difficulty. Furthermore, you can mix oil pastels with other painting media.

Oil pastel is a fantastic art medium. You can apply it on any surface, in addition to serving a dual purpose. You can use it on different surfaces, including wood, rocks, glass, bond paper, and other materials.

And Yes! You can use oil pastels on canvas.

Read on to know how

How to Use Oil Pastels on Canvas

Layer the Colors to Create Gradient Effects

Oil pastels are the best medium to create gradient effects. Such effects can be very appealing. You can blend different colors to achieve the color bleeding effect. Apply light and dark colors side by side. Take a cotton bud and dip it in baby oil. Rub it along the colors to meld them.

Make Outlines with Pencils, Pens, or Markers.

Prepare a practice sheet. Create a rough sketch of what you want to paint with a suitable marker. Write color labels on different areas.

Create outlines of your art on the canvas that you will use. Apply light shades with minimal pressure for your sketch outlines. There is no need to put the fine details. The sketch outlines will serve as a guide when you start painting. Do not use black or dark colors in outlining as it will spoil the painting.

How to Blend Pastels on Canvas

how to blend pastels on canvas


Create your colors, hues, and shades by pre-blending oil pastels. Break off bits of the oil pastels you want to mix. Place them on a palette and mix them with a knife until it has the consistency of paint. Apply them on the canvas using your fingers.

Blending Directly on The Canvas

Like a crayon, select one color of the oil pastel and draw it on the canvas. Apply another color next to the first layer. Blend the colors using fingers, tissue paper, cotton balls, and cotton buds dipped in baby oil.

When using fingers to blend, you can use gloves. You may also cover your finger with tape. Keep a box of wet wipes near you if you intend to use your fingers bare. Wiping your fingers will prevent you from unintentionally mixing the colors and ruining the painting.

Combining oil Pastels with Other Painting Media

It is not possible to mix oil pastel with certain painting media like acrylic paint. You must not apply acrylic paints on top of oil pastels. Since oil pastels are oily, they need to be the topmost layer.

Start Working on The Background before The Foreground.

Start working on the background before you add objects in detail. Use a moderate amount of pressure when working on the background. Ease up the pressure applied if you plan to draw on the backdrop later. Use dense pastel layers.

Layering then Scraping off

Create an effect by applying different shades of colors continuously. Layer a dark shade of blue over a light shade of blue when drawing a pool. Scratch away at the top layer to expose the bottom layer and create a water effect.
When applying this technique, do not rush in to add more layers to avoid messing up the painting.

Use Blending Tools

To achieve the best control and precision, use tortillions, pastel shapers, pastel brushes, and blending stumps. It is ideal to use pastel shapers on large areas. The others are ideal for blending small areas.

Work with Different Shades when Drawing Objects.

Use the middle shade to draw the object. When drawing a tree trunk, use medium brown to draw the outlines. Blend the color around. To add more details, layer the medium brown with other shades of brown. Apply dark brown on one side of the tree trunk before applying light brown on the other side. Blend using your fingertips or tissue.

Advanced Blending Methods

When you become more confident with your painting skills, try these fun blending methods for oil pastel.

Scumbling Method

Scumbling is a method that involves two or more hues. Begin by scribbling around the canvas using one color. Do the same with the other colors. Continue creating scribbles on the canvas, layering different colors until you achieve the consistency you desire.

Creating Drop-out Images

Cut out an object drawn on paper to create a stencil. Using hard pressure, apply oil pastel on the edges of the cutout. Place it on the canvas and start rubbing the color off the edges onto the canvas surface to create a drop-out image of the object.


Stippling is a method that allows you to create small and uneven strokes on your canvas. This method creates excellent layering, resulting in incredible depth.

Cross-hatch Method

The cross-hatch method requires a dark and a light color. Select two directions and assign one to each color. It may be vertical and horizontal or diagonally up and diagonally down. Create a series of lines going with color in one direction. Create another series of lines using the other color towards the other direction. Repeat the process until you are satisfied.

Sgraffito Method

Cover the entire canvas in a dark color before applying a light color layer. Repeat the method five times more. Make sure that the last layer is a dark color. Use a pin, toothpick, or a damaged ballpoint and carve out designs in the layers.

Final Thoughts

On a final note, blending needs lots of practice. It helps you to try out various techniques and methods and see which ones you prefer. Once you get the hang of it, blending will be easy. You will be creating great artworks before you know it.

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