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How to Create Beautiful Paintings with a Range of Water Soluble Oil Pastel Techniques

Updated on January 2, 2016

Nature, Wild at Heart

This painting was done with the water soluble oil pastels.  You can work very freely with this medium and very quickly, which is just how I like to work!  Experiment with these, they are a lot of fun!
This painting was done with the water soluble oil pastels. You can work very freely with this medium and very quickly, which is just how I like to work! Experiment with these, they are a lot of fun! | Source

What are Water Soluble Oil Pastels?

Hello, fellow artists! Do you want to be free just to paint with barely any prep time, with all the flexibility of watercolor, but a little more control? I have the answer for you! Grab some Portfolio 24 Series water soluble Oil Pastels. These do not fade, crumble or dry out. They can be worked wet in wet on watercolor paper/printmaking paper or dry on any good drawing paper. You might want to also try them on illustration board if you anticipate a lot of changes to your drawing.

Traditional Oil Pastels vs. Water Soluble Oil Pastels

When traditional oil pastels are used and there is a need to blend the colors into sheer layers, mineral spirits are required to thin the pastels. Don't misunderstand me, I really enjoy the richness of traditional oil pastels, BUT, sometimes I just like the convenience of the water soluble oil pastels. If you will be thinning traditional oil pastels with mineral spirits, whatever you will be painting on will have to be prepped with a couple of layers of gesso ground. More work before you get to paint! I don't know about you, but I'd much rather paint than prep! Many people are sensitive to the smell of mineral spirits, although the label says "odorless" . When you use the water soluble oil pastels, there truly is no odor, because you are only using water to thin these pastels. They are a pleasure to use.


These colors start vivid and stay vivid, but you can (of course) achieve some beautiful neutrals just by mixing two complementary colors (purple and yellow for example).  I urge you to visit your local art store and pick up a color wheel to begin to understand color.  By combining any two complementary colors you will be able to come up with some subtle neutrals, which I'm sure you'll be able to use in your wonderful paintings. There are also plenty of resources online about the color wheel and color theory in general. Colors which are equi-distant and opposite from each other on the color wheel are complementary colors. Just blend two complementary colors together and see what happens.

Try wetting your paper first to remove sizing. This involves wetting your paper thoroughly, then, letting it dry and working with either dry pastels or ones dipped into water and applied to the paper. Take notice of the differences and use these differences to your advantage. Your paintings will have a jewel toned richness. Sgraffito is another technique to try; it's a fancy Italian word which means to scratch away. Try laying down blocks or any shape of colors which are lighter in hue than what you'll put on top.   Color over these lighter colors in black, then scratch a design through the black. Try using varying widths of your scratching tool to get unique textures. Keep working/experimenting until you get your desired effect. Have fun with this wonderful medium!

When you start a painting, do you have an idea in mind, or not?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love this idea. I homeschool my three kidods, 14, 8 and 3. In science, all three are learning about animals; my youngest two are learning how animals camouflage themselves. This project was a perfect addition to our lessons, especially since all three could do this project! They all sat down and created their hidden masterpieces! Thank you so much for sharing this idea. They are beautiful!

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Smaletz 

      8 years ago from East Coast

      Thank-you, Georgina. They are everything I say they are. You can get amazing results with them. Using BFK Rives printmaking paper will get you wonderful results. Keep me posted:)

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Nice hub on water soluble oils. I'm a soft pastel artist, but these vibrant oil pastels look great. I tell myself that when I have time, I'm going to give them a try. Rating up and following you.

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Smaletz 

      9 years ago from East Coast

      Hi DaisyChain, thank-you for checking in. These pastels are instant gratification to me. Hope you enjoy them when you find them. Have a great day!

    • DaisyChain profile image


      9 years ago from France

      Sounds like a contradition in terms - oil and water! I must have a look into these; many thanks for drawing my attention to them. (Love your drawing as well. Going to search through your hubs for more.) Voted up etc.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Hipprintz, glad you liked the article. These pastels are very fun to work with! Let me know how they work when you try them.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great article! I will try it. I love the picture of your artwork. Thanks for the useful information!


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