Working with oil pastels is hard as it is. But when you make mistakes, it becomes a lot harder because you would have to erase the errors. It is essential to learn how to erase oil pastel because you will rarely not commit mistakes.
Knowing the proper techniques can be the difference between an amateurish drawing or a flawless work of art. The methods I will share involve chilling the oil pastel, scraping it off, using a kneaded eraser, and lifting off the pastel particles.
How to Erase Oil Pastel in Simple Steps
Let’s discuss this process in detail.
A lot of the materials I included in the following list are optional. Erasing oil pastel is a tricky business. And a lot of the required materials for erasing oil pastel depend on the paper you use.
- Craft knife, toothpick, or anything pointed
- A kneaded eraser or fresh white bread
- Mineral spirit or baby oil
- Cotton swabs
- Paper towel
- Ice cube (optional)
- Clean towel (optional)
- Masking tape (optional)
Step 1: Chilling the Oil Pastel
The first step of the process is to chill the oil pastel. The oil in the drawing medium makes it easier to blend when exposed to heat. The warmer the environment around oil pastel is, the more versatile, blendable, and sticky it is to the paper. You don’t want that.
You want to chill the oil pastel mistake so that it’s easier to remove. The pigments will stick together; therefore, scraping off and picking them up will be less challenging. However, depending on the paper you used, cooling the oil pastel may be unadvisable.
For example, if the paper you used is thin, less than 80 gsm, I would not suggest cooling the oil pastel. You may damage the paper.
Here’s how to chill the offending oil pastel marks. Cover a small ice cube with a clean towel, then gently press it to the spot you want to erase. Make sure that you don’t push too hard or too long that the moisture of the ice bleeds through to the paper.
Step 2: Scrape Off the Oil Pastel
Exposing the oil pastel to something cold like the ice cube makes it hard, and the pigments will stick together instead of flowing. Scraping them off is not easier.
Use a craft knife, a toothpick, or anything pointed to scrape off the pastel. Be careful with this step; rubbing too hard can damage or change the texture of the paper. If the paper has a toothy surface, scraping too hard can dislodge the tooth.
Scrape off as much of the oil pastel as you can before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Pick Up the Pigments
A kneaded eraser is an incredible tool for artists. Its malleable structure is conducive to erasing even the smallest of mistakes. Plus, it does not rub off mistakes or use friction; it picks up the errors, preventing damage to the paper. I prefer using a kneaded eraser to pick up the pigments of oil pastel after I scrape the oil pastel off the paper.
If you don’t have a kneaded eraser, you can use a piece of fresh white bread. Roll and wad the bread into shape, and it can function like a kneaded eraser, albeit less effective.
If neither a kneaded eraser nor fresh white bread is available to you, there’s still another option. Masking tape works great at picking up pigments.
Masking tape is just optional to me, though. If I am not careful, I can destroy the fibers of the paper if the tape sticks too hard on it.
I lightly flick the masking tape on the oil pastel pigments I want to pick up.
Step 4: The Last Resort
If you are still unsatisfied with your work after all the previous steps, you can use mineral spirit or baby oil as a last resort. Of all the mineral spirit products, I prefer Gamsol. I find that it is most effective in erasing oil pastel mistakes.
Use cotton swabs to gently rub the mineral spirit or baby oil on the mistake. Let the substance rest on the error for a minute, and then wipe it off with a clean paper towel.
Mineral spirits work because they are effective paint thinners that are usually used in oil paintings. But since oil pastels are just pigments with an oil-based binder, mineral spirits also work on them.
Baby oil dilutes oil pastel pigments. When you wipe off the baby oil from an oil pastel mistake, it also picks up the oil pastel. Of these two substances, I find that mineral spirit is more effective.
I put this step as a last resort because any liquid substance can damage the paper.
Step 5: Draw Over the Mistake
As I’ve mentioned above, erasing oil pastel mistakes is a tricky business. Even after doing all the techniques I shared here, there may still be a little bit of undesired pigment on the paper. I suggest covering the unwanted pigment. By now, the mistake should be light enough that you can cover it, and it won’t show over the new color.
With the appropriate techniques, you can erase oil pastel mistakes. Start by chilling the oil pastel if the paper can handle it. Then scrape off as much of the pigments as you can. Pick up the pigments. And if all else fails, use mineral spirit or baby oil to wipe off the unwanted mark. But even after all this, some rogue pigment may remain; cover it up with a new color.