When you think of oil pastels, you probably think of the nostalgia of working with them years ago as a little artist. But have you considered using oil pastels to create oil painting-esque works? Here are 22 oil pastel inspirations to get the creative sparks flying and reignite how you think about oil pastels (spoiler: they’re pretty great).
1. Still life
Oil pastels are much more portable and lighter than oil paints, and they can create a similar mood, look and rich colour. The best part is, that they’re opaque so you can easily build up shadows and highlights, working dark to light or light to dark.
2. Animals’ picnic
Add some fun to your landscapes with this idea. Adding animals like deer, cows or sheep can add a lot more character to your works, as well as adding a good level of warmth and interest to your oil pastel art.
3. Nightly sketch
For those who don’t have a lot of spare time, this next oil pastel inspiration is for you.
Grab a sketch book and a pack of oil pastels and get your hands dirty. We love this idea of a nightly sketch, lay down your favourite colours then add the finer details on top.
4. A dog’s life
Get expressive with your oil pastels and try capturing a pet portrait. Add in the rough outline then add your details and highlights by grabbing a few lighter colours and adding in those extra fine, furry details. This oil pastel artwork also makes for a great gift for the owners of fur babies in your life.
5. The rainforest
Nature’s calling and so is this oil pastel inspiration. Venture out into the forest and try creating a nature scene like this in oil pastels. Reach for those deep greens and lighter hues of blue and put pastel to paper in your sketchbook next time you create.
Oil pastels are a fresh take on oil paints and can be used in a similar way. If you find your oil pastels are a little too thick, you can dilute them with turpentines to create glazes or to thin down their consistency. Or if you’re using watersoluble oil pastels, you can do this with water.
This watermelon oil pastel inspiration is a fun way to create what appears to look like an oil painting, that’s actually in pastels.
This oil pastel artwork almost looks like an impressionist painting. Blending colours using a cotton bud stick, finger or blender can help create these seamless blends and capture the light of a sunset like an impressionist would.
8. Colour studies
We love this oil pastel inspiration of creating a colour study using a limited colour palette. Explore mood, lighting and shapes with a colour study in your sketch book and challenge yourself by limiting your oil pastel colour options to a few colours or try adding in one or two bold colours like this bright, carrot orange and coffee tone.
9. Flowers in a vase
This oil pastel artwork is blooming with colour. Take advantage of the rich colours that oil pastels have to offer and try something that’s full of bright colour like flowers. Try drawing flowers in a vase or even take to the garden if you have one and capture the view. Plus, it can be a nice artwork to add to a guest room or bedroom once finished!
Next time you’re experimenting, try different paper stocks with different texture and tooth, this can leave interesting effects and textures to your artworks. This idea uses the tooth of the paper to create a night sky and reflect the light in the water, beauty!
11. Cheeky chameleon
If you’ve conquered oil pastels or looking for a new challenge, then try watersoluble oil pastels. These are similar to oil pastels but have a watersoluble quality which means they can work to create a watercolour effect, be diluted with turps to create glazes and create this cheeky chameleon project too. To follow along with this project, check out our lesson here.
12. Mixed media approach
Another great quality of oil pastel is that they can be used like crayons to create added effects and enhance details. Use them on top of your acrylic works to add a punch of colour or texture as the buttery texture of the pastel, gives a glossy shine to your acrylic artworks.
13. Old door
Oil pastel inspiration can be found in any corner, we’re a fan of this idea of an old door drawn in oil pastels. Play with creating different textures like exposed bricks, cobble stones and faded wood next time you’re stuck for ideas.
14. Try black paper
If you’ve got a lot of light and colour like this nature landscape, try using dark paper. Black paper can make your colours pop and show off those neat highlights too. Add white highlights to your oil pastel works, like this great little idea, which uses small speckles of white pastel over the top for subtle highlight effects.
15. Two wolves howling at the moon
Whether you turn yours into a small-scale drawing or a large masterpiece, the choice is yours, but you’ll definitely want to give these two wolves a crack in oil pastels. To create your own take on this oil pastel artwork, check out our project here.
Lighthouses can be a beacon of inspiration and oil pastels are up to the task. For seamless blends, try glazing next time you turn to your oil pastels like this project. Use turpentine with a taklon brush over pastels to glaze, or try glazing with watersoluble oil pastels, for more consistent blends.
How cute are these two robin birds created using watersoluble oil pastels? Take to the skies and try creating these watercolour effects yourself. Draw your creations, then using a taklon brush with water, apply a wet wash to dry pastel and paper and watch the pastels activate. This will create a watercolour effect but still keep that bright colour of the pastels underneath.
18. Hot coffee
If you’re looking for an excuse to head to a café to get creative, this is it. Whether you create a small sketch in your sketch book or scale up a drawing on pastel paper, try your hand at drawing a hot coffee and a sweet treat to get your creative juices flowing.
19. Colourful field
How bright and cheerful is this oil pastel inspiration? Reach for your favourite colours and create a field of bright, blooms like this idea. Capture those spring flowers with short, feathering strokes of colour and have fun creating.
20. Seagulls at the beach
If the sky hasn’t drawn you in, these two seagulls definitely will. There’s so much detail in this oil pastel seascape, showing just how versatile the medium can be.
When life gives you lemons, turn it into an oil pastel artwork. These lemons are a great way to brighten up your sketch book or for a home décor piece, once finished. The great thing is, you don’t need a lot of colours either, just a few yellows and a couple of green shades, then you’re ripe and ready to start.
22. An ode to the coast
Next time you’re thinking of inspiration, why not create an oil pastel artwork that captures the beauty of the coastline. Blend in subtle purples and yellows for a sunset that floats above the waves.