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$5 Art Journaling Supplies–Oil Pastels

January 13, 2011

Don’t you love cheap art supplies? I’m happy to bring you another installment of my $5 Art Supply Series.

A pack of student grade oil pastels should run you a little under $5. When I was in high school we did a still life with oil pastels (note–this post is about regular, not water soluble oil pastels), and I really liked it.  So, I bought a pack of them to use at home…and they sat in a drawer for many years.  When I started art journaling, I threw those oil pastels in with all my other journaling supplies, and I’ve used them off and on.

Usually, I use them for backgrounds, but oil pastels are tricky.  They are so slick and waxy that it’s hard to layer anything on top of them.  You have to get creative.

Tissue Issue

On this page, I made thick squares in oil pastel, then layered tissue paper on top.

what do i have to say?

And on that one, I colored the whole background with oil pastel, then scraped all the excess away until I had a very thin layer of color. I softened the whole thing with a layer of gesso (which still didn’t stick well, but I like the way it turned out).

Of course, you could use oil pastel’s resistant quality to your advantage. I like to start a page by drawing a border in oil pastels, then completing my page as usual. When I get to the end, I scrape away the edges and that bright border pops out. That’s the technique I’m going to show you in my new video.

I’m sorry about the camera angle. I originally wanted to scrap the whole video after I watched it the first time, but I decided to keep it. It gives you a good idea of my layering technique. I add lots of layers of gesso and paint, then I splash a lot of water on the page (I usually use a spray bottle, but it was in the other room) and scrub down to previous layers. I love it! My pages turn out so interesting! (Oh, and another thing about the video–I do own more than one shirt! I just like to wear this one when I’m at home painting. I think it has been in most of the videos I’ve made!)


That’s the finished page. Well, it could use some more embellishment like I stated in the video, but this is usually as far as I get with my pages. One more technique before I go:


Why not draw a picture, add a layer or two, then scratch away to reveal the picture again? I believe this is called sgraffito. I imagine you could make some very elaborate pages using this technique.

I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a new pack of oil pastels–or dig out the ones you’ve had sitting around since high school, hehe!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 1:43 pm

    I LOVE this idea with the scratch-away border, thank you!

    • January 19, 2011 9:32 pm

      Try it! The pastels colors really pop, especially if you use gesso on your page! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Jennie Soler permalink
    July 10, 2011 6:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I just found an inexpensive box at Michaels and wondered if I could use it for art journaling. I purchased both an oil pastel and a soft pastel box – Artists Loft brand from Michaels and plan to try it. You’ve answered my question.

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