Why I Love My Oil Pastels

As some of you may already know, I have a fondness for oil pastels, particularly the brand Sennelier, my favorite medium whenever I set out to create an oil pastel painting. Granted, there’s usually no paint involved, but I’m told it’s still considered a painting. Please correct me if I’m wrong. An ex-gallery owner and old friend Bob Squires educated me with some of the terminologies in the art world. Thanks to him I call my oil pastel artwork paintings.

When there was some confusion about what to name the reproductions of my work, I asked: “What would you call a gicleé?” He responded that his preference was “archival pigment print.” “Gicleé is overused and outdated.” I trusted Bob as he had been an advocate and collector for many years, and any terminologies he used were alright by me. He knew a thing or two, or three or four.

Gustave Sennelier founded his atelier in 1887.  A devoted chemist, his lab was located right across from the Louvre. His work was so meticulous, so brilliant, that the Sennelier palette became the ultimate standard of color. In 1949 Sennelier oil pastels were born, specifically created for a friend of a friend, Pablo Picasso.


Not to be confused with soft pastels, which are the chalky kind. Those do make a dusty mess, and not the best if you’re prone to allergies, as I am.


When my children were young, I was a private art tutor for kids and teens. My least favorite materials to use was oil pastel. It seemed awkward and messy. I felt insecure about my proficiency and didn’t want to appear insecure in front of the students. When my kidlings were asleep, I furtively practiced into the wee hours of the nights before a lesson. And then something wonderful happened one of those late nights: I was satisfied with the results. And it was good.


Let’s get back to why I love these oil pastels:


It’s like coloring with crayons, only smoother and way more sophisticated and way more expensive.

These “oil crayons” are deliciously creamy and glide on the paper like butter (or sometimes in my case, on wood.

They’re not only for paper but glass, metal, canvas…

I bought my first set in Paris, an area called Montmartre, where many well-known artists got their start, so I could say “I bought my first set in Paris.”

If you’re limited on space, it doesn’t take long to set up a small area and they don’t make a huge mess (except for your hands and fingers), which leads into the next one:


They blend beautifully with q-tips, rags, and especially your fingers. Sometimes I dip the pastel into a liquid medium called Gamsol by Gamblin which makes your piece look more like a regular oil painting.


Check out this lovely palette of oil pastels and feast your eyes on all the creamy goodness.


How about you? Have you played around with any kind of crayons? Are you interested in learning how? I’d really like to read your comments. Until next time, have a wonderful Wednesday!

5 thoughts on “Why I Love My Oil Pastels

  1. Maggie T Reply

    The design of this website is lovely. Nicely done! Not to busy. I love the way you and Irene have told your personal stories of your introduction in your journey about the exciting world of fine art and the theory and creation from fine artists explaining the different types of paint and textures used. I love the art that you and Irene have done. It draws my attention to very fine detail. The vibrance of deep color is so captivating.
    My only hope is to come halfway to be able to paint as best as I can and learn more from Irene and you to improve myself through your classes.
    Your website will open my eyes to my skills from your online classes when available. Looking forward to more blogging.

    • admin Post authorReply

      Maggie, We believe everyone has the potential to express themselves creatively. One can even use creativity to enrich more mundane things like cooking or decorating one’s home. Art becomes a lifestyle that can be experienced by everyone. Our demonstrations will illustrate some of it for you, ultimately you will be able to access your own innate creative nature.
      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

    • admin Post authorReply

      Thanks Erns, we look forward to good times blogging and sharing with you about our life, the process, & anything else that may be of interest.

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