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For the Love of Oil Pastels!

January 27, 2011

So I’ve always been into visual arts. Did art class in high school and took a few university courses but the most exciting and on-going projects I’ve embarked on is exploring abstraction. Early on I, like many others, was obsessed with making things representational. Everything had to look like something, and look really accurate to that something that I was drawing. Otherwise my drawing was no good, and I was no good at drawing. Comic and graphic novelist Lynda Barry (I love her) freely admits to a similar drawing anxiety and explores the affect it has on the young psyche in her books.

Image from Lynda Barry's book "What It Is" p.75

A lot of people I know, friends and family suffer from not doing something because they aren’t any good at it. Then I got to thinking, why not make something that can’t look like something, or only look like something if I allow it to? A wonderful friend showed me an interesting method of drawing with oil pastels that focuses primary with shapes, colours and raw emotion. The only condition was that I wasn’t to leave any white on the page. Two boxes of pastels and a few months later, I came up with these:

This here is my first piece that I tried out the “go-crazy” method. As you can see, its a bit unfocused and I went crazy.

This is the second (maybe third) pastel drawing and I tried to work with a few main colours and really push myself to create different shapes. Also I ran out of computer paper so I did this against newsprint and I enjoy the added texture.

This one is called “Jungle Fruit.” After rotating the page a few times I decided that this angle is the most dynamic. And yes I said I was straying from the representational but sometimes something just comes from scribbles.

One of my favourite pieces “Dreamweaver” came about when I was on the phone with a very spiritual person. Their energy totally transferred into this piece and allowed the lines to create unity.

“This Way Out” was fun to work with. When I used to live in Montreal, it was the piece that hung right above my TV and I’d find myself watching this, the movement and colouring of the lines, more than I’d watch the TV. Well, depends what’s on.

Although a simple composition, “Into the Light” is one of those oil pastels that took a number of weeks to complete. I’d do some shading before breakfast, go to work and then come back and add a new colour. Also one of my favourites.

I’ve been fortunate enough to convince other people, especially non-drawers that oil pastels are fun and you can look like a rock star artist so long as you’re true to your feelings. My sister’s boyfriend swears he doesn’t draw but ended up making this masterpiece:

Art is for everyone, and everyone is creative even if they deny any talent in the arts. Artmaking doesn’t have to be measured up against something but should come from somewhere internal. I love oil pastels because they allow you to draw over them if you don’t like your previous choice, there are layers and layers of strokes that only add more texture to the picture. It’s elemental and reminds me of kindergarten crayoning, before we announced who was the best drawer in class. Buy a box of pastels and tell me you don’t like playing with them.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2011 2:44 pm


    I like abstract painting, because that interpretations are so flexible. The only thing is, they have to be appealing on the eyes or else I don’t pay attention, these pieces were surely appealing.


  1. Happy Blog-iversary Baby! « Writing in a Tree

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