Oil bars are an interesting art material to use due to the simplicity of their application. They are great to have in your toolkit when you want to work quickly and on a large scale to create an undercoat or to work in a sketchy graphic style. I find pleasure in using them when creating line drawings, outlines or filling large areas with a uniform colour. They are more like drawing than painting in many ways as you hold the stick like a drawing implement.
I have always found oil bars challenging to use on their own. One of the most challenging things about oil bars is the immediacy and expressive nature of the oil sticks as you can’t remove any marks. When I work with oil bars I don’t smudge the marks, even though they produce a very limited type of stroke. I find some of the outcomes created may need repainting in oil paints to vary the effect and make them more compelling.
Oil bars encourage risk taking but can also produce accidents, as they are extremely direct way of making marks with a lovely, adnominally large waxy oil pastel. I wholeheartedly recommend giving them a try and being experimental.
The sketches below show a comparison of using oil bars and charcoal on the figures. The background on both studies is mixed media.
Have you used oil bars in your creative practice? Feel free to share your successes below.
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