Another Tool in the Arsenal

Acrylics Vs Oil Pastel

where the pines grow oil pastel painting

Some time ago, I watched a video on how to use pastels and decided I would like to try chalk pastel. It wasn’t as easy as the video implied. After my first attempt, I had to vacuum and dust the entire room.  I then decided that it must have been oil pastels used in the video and so I bought a set of 24.

Maybe because the temperature in my art area at the time was very cold, the oil pastel crayons seemed very hard and waxy. At that point I thought I had really been duped by the video and decided that pastel was not for me.  Fast forward a couple of years.

One day I took the oil pastels out again.  I hate spending money on art supplies only to leave them sitting on a shelf and so I started to draw.  We now live in a warm apartment where the crayons seem more creamy and easy to use.  Applying the oil pastel to MI-teintes pastel paper (that might have made a huge difference too) made for some very colorful art pieces.

I still like to paint with acrylics because I like to include a lot of details using fine brushes.  Details are challenging with oil pastel because of the round shape of the crayons but they are great for landscapes and abstract art.  The MI-teintes paper will only take so much oil pastel unlike acrylic paint where you can layer at least 5 layers before getting an undesirable shine but you can apply infinite washes.  Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages.

Acrylic Paint

Oil Pastel


  • Dries to a permanent, hard surface
  • Doesn’t necessarily need to be varnished
  • Easy to blend and layer colors
  • Doesn’t smear once dry
  • Easy to fix mistakes by repainting


  • Requires water, paint brushes, under-painting
  • Messy on clothes

  • Vibrant colors
  • Hands on like coloring
  • Using MI-teintes colored paper you need not under paint
  • No extra tools needed except blending stump
  • Portable


  • Messy on the hands
  • Does need fixative or framed behind glass
  • Could smear if touched
  • Hard to erase errors
  • Plan well only a few layers possible

Acrylic painting can be more adventurous and spontaneous in that you can make it up as you go. If you dislike something you over-paint it. If you want to add an object that is relatively easy as well.

Oil pastel on the other hand takes a bit of planning. Typically you would start with the lighter colors before the dark because it’s hard to add light to dark pastel. The best plan of attack is to draw your scene in light pencil and color it in coloring book style.

Oil Pastel for me is just another fun tool in the arsenal.

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