Can Oil Pastels Dry Out? Uncover the Truth

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 15 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

If you are a fan of oil pastels, you may have wondered whether these vibrant, versatile, and artistic mediums can dry out. In this article, we will dive into the truth about oil pastels and their drying properties, as well as explore the best practices for their storage and maintenance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper storage is essential to prevent oil pastels from drying out.
  • Airtight containers and cool, dry rooms are ideal for preserving oil pastels.
  • Artist-grade oil pastels tend to last longer than student-grade ones.
  • Frame your finished artwork under plexiglass or glass to protect it from damage.
  • Reviving dried oil pastels is possible but may not restore the original texture and quality.

Now, let’s delve into the details of oil pastels, their characteristics, and the best practices for ensuring their longevity.

Understanding the Differences Between Oil Pastels and Soft Pastels

When it comes to pastels, there are distinct differences between oil pastels and soft pastels. Not only do they have different ingredients, but their textures and application techniques also set them apart.

Oil pastels are created by combining ground color pigments with mineral oil and wax. This unique blend gives them a lipstick-like texture that glides smoothly on the surface. When you use oil pastels, you’ll notice that they adhere firmly to the paper, canvas, or any other medium, allowing you to create bold, vibrant strokes with ease. The result is a rich and velvety finish that adds depth and dimension to your artwork.

On the other hand, soft pastels are formulated by mixing pigment with dry ingredients, such as chalk or gypsum. The addition of these dry components gives soft pastels a softer consistency, similar to that of chalk. When applied, soft pastels create a powdery, almost dusty appearance on paper or canvas. This unique texture allows for effortless blending and layering, making soft pastels an ideal choice for creating subtle gradations and delicate shading in your artwork.

Differences Between Oil Pastels and Soft Pastels:

  • Ingredients: Oil pastels contain ground color pigments, mineral oil, and wax, while soft pastels combine pigment with dry components like chalk.
  • Texture: Oil pastels have a lipstick-like texture, adhering firmly to the surface, while soft pastels have a softer consistency, creating a powdery appearance.
  • Application: Oil pastels produce bold, vibrant strokes, ideal for creating rich, textured effects, while soft pastels excel in blending and layering, allowing for delicate shading and subtle transitions.

Understanding the differences between oil pastels and soft pastels can help you choose the right medium for your artistic vision. Whether you want to achieve bold and textured effects or soft and blended transitions, both oil pastels and soft pastels offer unique qualities that can elevate your artwork.

Comparing Oil Pastels and Soft Pastels

Aspect Oil Pastels Soft Pastels
Ingredients Ground color pigments, mineral oil, and wax Pigment, chalk or gypsum
Texture Lipstick-like, firm adherence Soft and powdery
Application Bold and vibrant strokes Effortless blending and layering

Storing Oil Pastels for Longevity

Proper storage is essential for preserving the longevity of oil pastels. To ensure that your oil pastels stay in optimal condition, it’s important to follow the right storage practices. Here are some tips to help you store your oil pastels properly:

  • Store your oil pastels in an airtight container. This will prevent them from drying out and protect them from dust and humidity.
  • Avoid exposing your oil pastels to direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can affect the quality and texture of the pastels.
  • Choose a cool, dry room for storing your oil pastels. Excessive heat or moisture can cause the pastels to become soft or brittle.
  • Separate your oil pastels by color or brand to prevent any color transfer or mixing.

By storing your oil pastels properly, you can maintain their vibrant colors, smooth texture, and overall quality. This will ensure that your oil pastels are always ready for your artistic endeavors.

Protecting Oil Pastel Artwork

When it comes to preserving your precious oil pastel artwork, taking the right measures to protect it is essential. While there are fixatives available in the market that claim to protect oil pastels, they often fall short in fully fixing the medium without altering the color or texture of the artwork. So, what’s the best solution to safeguard your finished oil pastel piece? Framing it under plexiglass or glass with mats.

By framing your oil pastel artwork, you create a protective barrier against external elements, ensuring its longevity. The plexiglass or glass acts as a shield, keeping the artwork safe from smudging, dust, and accidental damage. Additionally, the mats create a gap between the artwork and the glass, preventing direct contact that could potentially compromise the integrity of the piece.

See also
Oil Pastel Guide: How to Painting with Ease

When selecting the frame for your oil pastel artwork, opt for ones that provide ample space between the glass and the artwork. This extra space allows for better ventilation, reducing the risk of moisture buildup and mold growth. Choose acid-free mats to further protect the artwork from acid damage over time.

Benefits of Framing Oil Pastel Artwork:
1. Protection against smudging, dust, and damage
2. Preservation of color vibrancy and quality
3. Prevention of direct contact with the glass
4. Aesthetic enhancement of the artwork

When framing your oil pastel artwork, it’s crucial to use anti-reflective glass or plexiglass to minimize glare and ensure optimal visibility. This will allow viewers to appreciate the intricate details and vibrant colors of your artwork without any distracting reflections.

Apart from framing, it’s important to display your oil pastel artwork in an environment that maintains stable temperature and humidity levels. Avoid placing it in areas exposed to direct sunlight or near heat sources, as these can accelerate the deterioration process. Regularly dust the frame and glass to keep your artwork looking its best.

By following these protective measures, you can preserve the beauty and integrity of your oil pastel artwork for years to come, allowing you and others to enjoy it for generations.

Differences Between Student-Grade and Artist-Grade Oil Pastels

When it comes to oil pastels, not all are created equal. There are distinct differences between student-grade and artist-grade oil pastels that can significantly affect the quality of your artwork. Understanding these differences is essential for achieving the desired results in your artistic endeavors.

Student-grade oil pastels are a more affordable option, commonly used by beginners or artists on a budget. These pastels are made with a higher oil content, which can make them more brittle and prone to drying out. While they can still produce vibrant colors, the overall quality may not be as high as artist-grade oil pastels.

Artist-grade oil pastels, on the other hand, are made with a lower oil content and usually contain higher-quality pigments and binders. This results in a longer-lasting and higher-quality medium that allows for greater control and versatility. Artist-grade oil pastels produce intense, rich colors and have a smoother texture, making them a preferred choice for professional artists.

To highlight the differences between student-grade and artist-grade oil pastels, refer to the following table:

Criteria Student-Grade Oil Pastels Artist-Grade Oil Pastels
Oil Content Higher Lower
Pigment Quality Lower Higher
Texture Brittle, less smooth Smoother
Color Intensity Good, but not as intense Intense, vibrant
Longevity Shorter lifespan, prone to drying out Longer-lasting

As you can see, the quality of oil pastels can vary significantly depending on whether you choose student-grade or artist-grade options. If you’re looking for longevity and higher quality in your artwork, it is recommended to invest in artist-grade oil pastels.

By opting for artist-grade oil pastels, you can enjoy the benefits of their superior pigments, texture, and longevity. These qualities will not only enhance your artwork but also give you more control and flexibility in your creative process.

In the next section, we will explore how oil pastels can be used in combination with other art materials, allowing you to expand your artistic horizons and create unique masterpieces.

Can Oil Pastels be Used in Combination with Other Art Materials?

Oil pastels offer endless possibilities for artistic expression, and one of the exciting aspects is their versatility to be used in combination with other art materials. By exploring different mediums and techniques, you can achieve unique effects and add depth to your artwork. Let’s take a closer look at how you can combine oil pastels with other art materials.

Combining Oil Pastels and Oil Paints

When using oil pastels alongside oil paints, it is important to consider their compatibility. Oil pastels never completely dry, so if applied on top of oil paint, they can cause instability and smudging. To avoid this, it is recommended to use oil pastels as a sketching medium underneath an oil painting. By applying a base layer of oil paint first, you can create a stable foundation for your artwork. Then, use oil pastels to add details, texture, and highlights on top of the dried oil paint layers. This combination allows you to explore the unique qualities of both mediums and enhance the overall visual impact of your artwork.

Experimenting with Oil Pastels and Soft Pastels

Oil pastels can also be combined with soft pastels, expanding the range of textures and effects in your artwork. Soft pastels have a chalk-like appearance and a softer application compared to oil pastels. By using both mediums together, you can create interesting contrasts and blend colors seamlessly. Start by applying a base layer of oil pastels, which have a firmer adherence to the surface. Then, layer soft pastels on top to achieve a softer and more blended effect. This combination allows you to explore the unique qualities of each medium and create captivating artworks.

Benefits of Combining Oil Pastels with Other Art Materials
Enhanced texture and depth in artwork
Unique effects and visual impact
Expanded range of colors and techniques
Endless possibilities for creativity and experimentation

Combining oil pastels with other art materials opens up a world of possibilities in your creative journey. Whether you choose to explore the richness of oil pastels and oil paints or experiment with the textures of oil pastels and soft pastels, the key is to embrace your artistic instincts and let your imagination guide you. By combining different mediums, you can create captivating artworks that reflect your unique style and vision.

See also
Create Stunning Oil Pastel Portraits: A Guide

Experimenting with combining oil pastels with other art materials can lead to exciting and unexpected results. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your creativity and explore new techniques. The possibilities are endless!

Cleaning and Removing Oil Pastels

When working with oil pastels, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to clean or remove them from surfaces at some point. Whether it’s accidental smudges, unwanted marks, or simply the need to start fresh, knowing how to properly clean and remove oil pastels is essential. In this section, we’ll explore effective methods and tips for cleaning oil pastels, as well as safe ways to remove them from various surfaces.

Removing Oil Pastels from Surfaces

If you find yourself with oil pastel marks on surfaces such as paper, canvas, or wood, the first step is to gently scrape off any excess pastel using a single-edged razor or an eraser. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the surface.

For more stubborn marks, you can try using a liquid soap or household degreaser. However, it’s important to test these products on a small, inconspicuous area of the surface first to ensure they don’t cause any adverse effects.

Pro Tip: Weber’s Turpenoid, a chemical cleaner specifically formulated for art materials, can be highly effective in removing oil pastels. However, keep in mind that it may not fully remove staining pigments and can have a strong odor, so make sure to use it in a well-ventilated area.

It’s worth noting that oil pastels cannot be washed out of absorbent materials like paper or fabric. In these cases, it’s best to minimize smudging and accidental marks by handling the artwork or project with clean hands and using protective barriers such as gloves or tissue paper.

Removing Oil Pastels from Rubber Stamps

If you’re using rubber stamps with oil pastels and need to clean them, it’s important to act quickly. Start by gently wiping off any excess pastel from the stamp using a clean cloth or paper towel. Then, moisten a cloth or sponge with warm water and mild soap and gently clean the rubber surface. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean cloth.

Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning recommendations for rubber stamps, as different materials may require different cleaning methods.

With a little care and proper techniques, you can effectively clean and remove oil pastels from surfaces and rubber stamps, ensuring that your artwork and tools remain in pristine condition.

How to Revive Dried Oil Pastels

If your oil pastels have dried out, don’t worry, there are a few methods you can try to bring them back to life. Here are two effective ways to revive dried oil pastels:

Method 1: Heat them slightly

One way to soften dried oil pastels is by applying gentle heat. You can do this by using a hairdryer or warm water. Here’s how:

  1. Hold the hairdryer about 6-8 inches away from the dried oil pastel.
  2. Turn on the hairdryer on low or medium heat.
  3. Gently warm the dried oil pastel by moving the hairdryer in circular motions. Be careful not to melt the pastel.
  4. Continue heating until the oil pastel becomes soft and workable again.

Method 2: Add a small amount of mineral oil or baby oil

Another method to restore dried oil pastels is by adding a small amount of mineral oil or baby oil. Follow these steps:

  1. Take a small container or palette and place the dried oil pastel in it.
  2. Add a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil to the dried pastel.
  3. Using a clean brush or palette knife, gently mix the oil with the dried pastel until it softens.
  4. Continue mixing until the oil is well incorporated and the pastel reaches the desired consistency.

It’s important to note that while these methods can revive dried oil pastels, the texture and quality may not be exactly the same as before. It’s always a good idea to test the revived pastels on a scrap piece of paper before using them on your artwork.

Revival Method Pros Cons
Heating with a hairdryer or warm water
  • Quick and easy method
  • Doesn’t require any additional materials
  • Pastels may become too soft if overheated
  • Heat can affect the color intensity
Adding mineral oil or baby oil
  • Effectively softens dried oil pastels
  • Allows for more control over the revival process
  • May alter the texture and color of the pastels
  • Requires additional materials

How to Prevent Oil Pastels from Drying Out

To ensure the longevity of your oil pastels and avoid the frustration of dried-out sticks, it’s essential to take proper care and follow these preventive measures:

  1. Store in an airtight container: The key to preventing oil pastels from drying out is keeping them in a sealed container. This will minimize exposure to air and preserve their moisture. Ensure the container is clean and free from dust or other contaminants.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight: Sunlight can cause oil pastels to soften or even melt, affecting their texture and color. Store them away from windows or any areas where they may be exposed to direct sunlight.
  3. Keep in a cool, dry place: Heat and humidity can accelerate the drying process of oil pastels. It’s best to store them in a cool and dry room, away from sources of heat such as radiators or heaters.
  4. Regularly check and revive: Periodically inspect your oil pastels for any signs of dryness or hardness. If you come across dried-out sticks, you can try reviving them by gently heating them with a hairdryer or placing them in warm water for a short time. Be cautious not to overheat or soak them, as this may cause damage.
  5. Consider artist-grade oil pastels: Artist-grade oil pastels are typically formulated with higher-quality materials and have a lower oil content, making them less prone to drying out compared to student-grade pastels. Investing in artist-grade oil pastels can contribute to prolonging their lifespan.
See also
Discover How to Color Oil Pastel Like a Pro

By implementing these preventive measures and regularly maintaining your oil pastels, you can enjoy vibrant and workable colors for a longer period of time, unlocking endless possibilities for your artistic creations.

Alternative Options for Drying Mediums

If you are looking for a medium that dries completely, consider using pigment sticks or oil bars as alternative options. These mediums are made with linseed oil, similar to oil paint, and will dry accordingly. It is important to test these mediums before using them in artwork to understand their behavior and effects.

Drying Medium Comparison

Medium Description Drying Time
Pigment Sticks Pigment sticks are essentially oil paint in solid form. They contain a high concentration of pigment mixed with a small amount of wax and oil binder. The sticks can be directly applied to a variety of surfaces and offer vibrant colors and excellent blending capabilities. Varies depending on the pigment and brand. Typically dries within a week to a few weeks.
Oil Bars Oil bars are similar to pigment sticks but have a softer consistency. They are made by combining artist-grade pigments with a mix of wax, oil, and various additives for different effects. Oil bars can be applied directly onto canvas or paper and can be easily manipulated with tools or brushes. Drying time varies based on the brand and thickness of application. Generally, takes several days to a few weeks to dry.

Experimenting with these alternative drying mediums can open up new creative possibilities in your artwork. Whether you choose pigment sticks or oil bars, make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturers and consider the drying time when planning your artistic process. With these options, you can achieve the desired drying results while exploring diverse artistic techniques.

Conclusion

In conclusion, proper storage and maintenance are key to prolonging the life and maintaining the quality of oil pastels. While they never completely dry out, storing them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight and hot rooms can prevent them from drying out too quickly. Additionally, framing finished artwork under glass or plexiglass is the best way to protect it from smudging and damage.

When using oil pastels in combination with other art materials, it is important to consider their compatibility. It is recommended to apply oil pastels as a sketching medium under an oil painting, while using oil paints as a base layer. Experimenting with different combinations can result in unique and interesting effects.

By following these tips and techniques, you can create beautiful and long-lasting artwork with oil pastels. Remember to check their condition regularly and revive dried oil pastels if necessary. With proper care, your oil pastels will continue to inspire and bring your artistic visions to life.

FAQ

Can oil pastels dry out?

Oil pastels never completely dry out as long as they are stored properly. Proper storage includes keeping them in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight, and in cool, dry rooms.

What are the differences between oil pastels and soft pastels?

Oil pastels are made from ground color pigments mixed with mineral oil and wax, giving them a lipstick-like texture and firm adherence to the paper surface. Soft pastels, on the other hand, are made by combining pigment with dry ingredients, resulting in a softer application and a chalk-like appearance on paper or canvas.

How should oil pastels be stored to preserve their longevity?

It is recommended to store oil pastels in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and hot rooms, to prevent them from drying out and protect their quality.

How can I protect my oil pastel artwork?

The best solution for protecting finished oil pastel artwork is to frame it under plexiglass or glass with mats, keeping the artwork away from direct contact with the glass.

What are the differences between student-grade and artist-grade oil pastels?

Student-grade oil pastels are cheaper and made with more oil, which can make them more brittle and prone to drying out. Artist-grade oil pastels, on the other hand, are made with higher quality materials and last longer.

Can oil pastels be used in combination with other art materials?

Yes, oil pastels can be used in combination with other art materials such as oil paints. However, it is recommended to apply the oil paint first as a base, as oil pastels never completely dry and can cause instability if applied on top of oil paint.

How can I clean and remove oil pastels from surfaces?

To clean oil pastels from surfaces, gently scrape off any excess pastel with a single-edged razor or an eraser. If needed, other options such as liquid soap or household degreaser can be used, but it is important to test the surface first. Weber’s Turpenoid can be an effective chemical cleaner, but it may not remove staining pigments completely. Oil pastels cannot be washed out of absorbent materials like paper or fabric.

How can I revive dried oil pastels?

If oil pastels have dried out, one method to revive them is to heat them slightly using a hairdryer or warm water. Another method is to add a small amount of mineral oil or baby oil to the dried oil pastel and gently mix it until it softens. However, the texture and quality may not be the same as before.

How can I prevent oil pastels from drying out?

The best way to prevent oil pastels from drying out is by storing them properly in an airtight container away from direct sunlight and hot rooms. Regularly checking their condition and reviving dried oil pastels can help prolong their life and maintain their quality.

Are there alternative options for drying mediums similar to oil pastels?

Yes, pigment sticks or oil bars may be alternative options for drying mediums. These mediums are made with linseed oil, similar to oil paint, and will dry accordingly.