Warming up oil pastels: Cup Warmer vs Warm Cat

I’ve been doing an art journal workshop, which specified oil pastels in the materials list. The object is to add color while also providing a water-resistant quality in the work.

I’m not a fan of oil pastels. I find them greasy and unappealing. I bought a set of Cray-Pas a couple of years ago at Cargo Largo, but I’ve hardly used them. They are just not “my thing”.

Being open to new experiences, I dug out my sad, unloved box of Cray-Pas for this workshop assignment. Due to neglect, or perhaps the chilly room temperature, they were hard, scratchy, and unwilling to blend on the page. I needed to warm them up.

My hands, which are nearly as cold as the room, failed to soften the pastels enough to blend easily. I briefly considered sticking them in the microwave for a few seconds, but decided that may result in failure of epic proportions.

I considered the other two heat sources at hand: a USB-driven cup warmer and a warm cat.

warming pastels 1 - cup warmer warming pastels 2 - warm cat

  • On the cup warmer, I placed several pastels on a scrap of aluminum foil.
  • Under the warm cat, I placed the rest of the pastels, still in their box.
  • After 10 minutes, I tested the results.

The pastels warmed under the cat were only slightly more blendable than the ones at room temperature.

The pastels warmed on the cup warmer were significantly more blendable than the ones at room temperature and the ones at cat temperature. I used these to continue the workshop exercise.

warming pastels 3 - results

I’m still not a fan of oil pastels. They feel like sludge under my fingers, they don’t resist the water-based layer as well as pure wax or crayon, they’re useless for detail, and they clog up my pens and pencils on subsequent layers. This sad, unloved box of Cray-Pas is going back into my box of seldom-used supplies.


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