How To Use Oil Pastels On Canvas

Oil pastels are a unique medium that can add texture and depth to your canvas paintings.

How To Use Oil Pastels On Canvas
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

While oil pastels can be used on a variety of surfaces, using them on canvas requires a slightly different approach.

Step 1: Prepare Your Canvas

Before you begin using oil pastels on canvas, it is essential to prepare your canvas. Start by applying a layer of gesso to your canvas.

Gesso is a primer that helps to seal the canvas and provide a smooth surface for the oil pastels to adhere to.

Step 2: Choose Your Colors

Oil pastels come in a wide range of colors. It is essential to choose your colors carefully before you start using them on your canvas.

Think about the mood and tone you want to create in your painting and choose colors that will help you achieve that goal.

Step 3: Apply the Oil Pastels

Start by applying a light layer of oil pastels to your canvas. Use a light touch and apply the oil pastels in small circular motions.

Gradually build up the layers of color until you achieve the desired effect.

Step 4: Blend the Colors

Once you have applied the oil pastels to your canvas, it is time to blend the colors. Use a blending tool, such as a blending stump or your finger, to blend the colors together. This will help create a smooth and cohesive look to your painting.

Step 5: Add Detail

Once you have blended the colors, it is time to add detail to your painting. Use a fine-tipped brush or a sharpened oil pastel to add detail to your painting. This will help create depth and texture in your artwork.

Step 6: Fixative

Once you have completed your painting, it is essential to apply a fixative to your canvas. This will help to protect your artwork from smudging and ensure it lasts for years to come.


What is the difference between oil pastels and regular pastels?

Oil pastels are made with a combination of pigment, wax, and oil, while regular pastels are made with a combination of pigment and binder.

How do you clean oil pastels off your fingers?

You can clean oil pastels off your fingers using soap and warm water. Rub your fingers together under running water and use soap to help break down the oil pastels.

Can oil pastels be used for fine art?

Yes, oil pastels can be used for fine art. Many artists use oil pastels to create vibrant and expressive artworks.

Do oil pastels dry?

No, oil pastels do not dry. They remain soft and malleable, which allows you to blend and layer colors on your canvas.

How long do oil pastels last?

Oil pastels can last for many years if they are stored properly. Keep your oil pastels in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or heat.


Oil pastels are a versatile medium that can add texture and depth to your canvas paintings. They are easy to use and require minimal cleanup. They are also relatively affordable, making them a great option for artists on a budget.


Experiment with different techniques to create unique effects with your oil pastels. Try blending colors with your fingers or using a blending tool to create texture. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors to create a vibrant and expressive artwork.

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