|8/1/23 Haiya oil pastels in Uglybook sketchbook (Earthsworld
And “messing” is the operative word here.
Ever since late last year when I started dabbling in Caran d’Ache pastel pencils and then in Caran d’Ache Neopastels, I’ve been trying to find a way to enjoy using pastels in general. Intrigued by opaque media while simultaneously being annoyed by the mess, I keep tiptoeing back because I love the effects that can be achieved, especially with challenging subjects like portraits. Unlike transparent media, pastels are so much more forgiving when it comes to blending and layering skin tones or refreshing lost highlights. I’m still avoiding traditional soft pastels that produce airborne pigment particles, but oil pastels seem like a good compromise between material safety and opaque fun.
My latest experiment is the result of a late-night YouTube binge a few weeks ago. I think Painting and Chocolate’s channel started appearing in my feed because this mixed-media artist seems to mix watercolor pencils with other materials more often than most colored pencil artists I’ve viewed. Ironically, this video doesn’t involve watercolor pencils at all – it’s about Haiya’s Paul Rubens Oil Pastels. I wasn’t necessarily looking for another set of oil pastels, but she managed to persuade me to put a set into my Amazon wishlist. Shortly thereafter, Prime Day happened, the price went down, and you know how that goes.
When I finally got around to trying them with this Earthsworld portrait, I was immediately surprised by how soft they are compared to the Neopastels (my only other experience with oil pastels). I had described Neopastels as smooth, creamy and lipsticky, but compared to the Haiya, they are sticks of dry chalk – that’s how truly smooth, creamy and lipsticky the Haiya are. I remember being disappointed by the Neopastels because they took more effort to blend than I had expected. The Haiya, on the other hand, can be easily pushed and smushed around with a blending stump, paper towel or finger (though not mine!).
|I do like these Chinese colors!
In an Uglybook sketchbook, which has a mild tooth, I spent only 15 minutes on this roughly blended portrait. It was great fun not having to remember to reserve highlights, and I could continue pushing and playing without hitting the immediate “overworked” look I get so easily with watercolors. I enjoy both the blendability and the effects of oil pastels.
The aftermath, however, is less enjoyable. I wanted to take a photo to show you how messy my hands got, even with wrapped sticks, but I didn’t want to touch my phone (and the stuff did not wash off my hands as easily as I had expected)! I dreaded putting the sketch on my scan bed because I knew I would have to clean it afterwards. Yuck.
If you are thinking about dabbling in oil pastels, this set is a terrific value. At less than one-fourth the price of Caran d’Ache Neopastels (surprise, surprise), the set of 48 is larger than most people would need, given how easy and fun they are to blend, but I couldn’t find a smaller set. (I did find this set of 50, which seemed like an odd variation, but it turns out to be an older generation with a flat end instead of tapered. I don’t know if they are different in other ways.)
If I get past the mess issue (gloves?) long enough to keep using these, I’ll do a full product review eventually.