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How to use oil pastels for the beginner (continues...)

Often noted as the world's leading authority on oil pastel paints, his 2002 book, Oil Pastel for the Serious Beginner: Basic Lessons in Becoming a Good Painter (Watson-Guptill publications) demonstrates step by step how to become a master of oil pastels. He covers every aspect of oil pastels in this book, far more than I can even hint about here. He includes the history, the chemistry, and the techniques of oil pastels, or “dust free pastels” as he would like us to refer to them, as the name ‘oil pastel’ implies that they are a petroleum derivative, which they are not.

Unfortunately, many artists will still have issues with the high price tag associated with these perfected paints. Perhaps they aren’t for everyone, at least not at the beginner’s level. Still, finding the right medium to work in is a very crucial first phase for any artist, so you really should give oil pastels a try if for no other reason than to make sure that the cost should not be justified. The following is a way to inexpensively make your own oil pastels, although the sharpness and overall quality will naturally not be as good as the professional grade.

Start with manufacturing a Gum tragacanth solution. (1 part gum tragacanth powder, 30 parts distilled water, & a cap-full of alcohol)

Simply put the gum tragacanth, available at a fine arts store, into a clean bottle and stir in just enough alcohol to make a soft paste. Then add the water, shaking it all together. The hard part is that tragacanth can’t be forced to bond within 2 whole days, only then will it absorb all the water and swell into a true gelatinous suspension.

Next, combine equal parts of dry pigment (of your favorite color) and zinc white, (also both available at that same fine arts store) with just enough distilled water to make a stiff paste. Once mixed, add just enough Gum solution (that you finished letting sit for two days) to allow you to grind it with a pallet knife until the paste is completely smooth.

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