There was a time when oil pastels were considered the tool of students. An aid for learning, oil pastels were used for teaching students how to sketch and draw. Oil pastels were good intermediary for students who were ready to move beyond using simple pencils but were not ready to create oil paintings of their own. But, since the advent of oil pastels, both students and professional artists are using this special soft crayon to create beautiful works of art.
The first oil pastels were developed by two Japanese teachers, Rinzo Satake and Shuku Sasaki in 1921. Satake and Sasaki wanted to allow Japanese children more free drawing time with something other than the traditional black ink. So, the oil pastel was developed to offer children more color in a form that was easy for them to use. Also, oil pastels were cheaper to make so they were more widely available than the traditional, dryer pastels. Although the oil pastels were definitely innovative, several years passed until a more stable version was created. There immediate success prompted some professional artists to try using oil pastels in their work. Pablo Picasso started using oil pastels in the late 1940’s after a friend of his developed a professional grade of oil pastel.
Since the coming out of oil pastels, both professional and amateur artists have taken advantage of the unique texture and bright colors offered by oil pastels. Oil pastels can be use on just about any kind of surface: wood, paper, metal, glass, and canvas. When combined with other, traditional, pastels, oil pastels can be used to create beautiful wall hangings. In spite of all the unique qualities found in oil pastels, there are some disadvantages to using oil pastels to create works of art.
Oil pastels do not always blend easily, so a picture created with oil pastels is more likely to contain sharp lines and contrasts between the different colors. The picture will lack softness in its appearance. But, if more than one kind of pastel is used, soft and hard chalk pastels, then blending can be done and the picture will look softer. Also, oil pastels never completely dry, which is good if you need to correct mistakes, but this also means that the picture will be more likely to get smudged. To prevent excessive smudging, oil pastel pictures should be sprayed with some sort of fixing agent and then put behind a frame.