First Time with the Paul Rubens Oil Pastels Set? Fun, Sensual and Promising

I'm a painter but this was my first time using oil pastels. Find out why I found the Paul Rubens Oil Pastels to be fun, sensual and promising.

A few months ago I was offered a 72-colour set of Paul Rubens Oil Pastels. We just moved by the ocean and I thought the pastels would be a wonderful way to do some art in plein air.

Sylvie Peltier's oceanside studio
My oceanside studio!

I paint a lot of landscapes, but I don't strive to reproduce everything in a realistic manner. I like to add colours and features as I see fit. But for my first attempt, I tried to be as faithful to what was in front of me as I could.

Pastel landscape by Sylvie Peltier
First pastel

I wasn't terribly thrilled with my attempt because I was hesitant with my markings and unsure about how to mix the colours to get the shades I wanted.

On my 2nd attempt I was bolder with my colours. I also layered them, adding quite a bit of white to the sky, the mountains and the water.

Pastel landscape by Sylvie Peltier
2nd attempt

On my 3rd plein air session I decided that I would abstract what was in front of me and focus on shape, lines and layering.

This pastel isn't my favorite, but I'm sharing because I think it's important to accept that not every sketch will be amazing, especially if you're trying new things!

Pastel landscape by Sylvie Peltier
A bit overworked, perhaps?

Then I put together all that I learned so far and produced this rendition of my view. I liked it enough to share it on Facebook! (I've put the link to my Facebook here in case you want to become my friend. Please note, however, that I am happily married).

FB quality pastel by Sylvie Peltier
My first FB quality pastel

After posting this, my friend Gary commented that I could try the sgraffito technique. This technique consists in creating an under layer which can be done with coloured pencils. Then you draw with pastels on top and you can scape some of the pastels off to reveal the colours underneath.

So I drew this bright landscape using felt pens:

Underpainting with felt pens by Sylvie Peltier
Underpainting with felt pens

And I used a clam shell as a scraper.

Paul Rubens Oil Pastel kit with clam scraper
Using the tools at hand

The final result: 

Pastel landscape by Sylvie Peltier
Thanks Gary for the sgraffito tip!

Some takeaways: the felt pen marks are showing through, so I will be careful next time in how the blocks of colour are applied. Also, when you scrape the pastel, not all of it comes out. The pastel colour still remains and becomes somewhat blended with the background colour.

Now that Fall is upon us, I won't be doing any plein air painting or drawing for a while. It was great fun to play with the pastels and to experiment with them.

Overall, I found the Paul Rubens Oil Pastels to be nice and buttery which makes for a sensual experience quite unlike the one you get from painting. 

I used a lot of white which made we wish the set came with an extra stick of white! 

I've only scratched the surface of what pastel can offer me. There are a lot of beautiful colours in the set that I have yet to use. It's very promising for the future.

Thank you to the folks at Paul Rubens for giving me this set!

Here are some useful links: