When I starting working on models back in 2009, I immediately latched onto pastels as my medium of choice. I had found a good tutorial online, and pastel supplies were affordable and readily available. The ease of blending was also extremely appealing to someone just starting out.
Two of my pastelled horses winning 1st and 2nd in Appaloosa Workmanship at NW Congress 2012
As I did more and more horses (and started trying more complex or nuanced colors) I did find some downsides to pastels. For one, the dust gets everywhere. You can only do a bit of work at a time between coats of sealer, and graininess can be an issue. Perhaps most importantly, pastels are not terribly forgiving- if you go too dark, or too orange, or get a dark mark somewhere that’s suppose to be light, it’s pretty pesky to turn things around.
Complaints aside, I really do like working with pastels. But after watching my friend Tracy paint in oils, and seeing the incredible, luminous horses she made, I was eager to try it out myself.
ES Norman – Vertical Limit AR painted by Tracy Eilers – owned by Erin Corbett
I’m very lucky that Tracy lives nearby and was willing to give me a lesson. It was so amazingly helpful to watch her paint and have her walk me through the basics. She also lent me her rare copy of Carol William’s Color Formulas and Techniques to study up beforehand.
I am really, really excited about oils. I love how long you can work with them, so you can keep tweaking things til they’re just right. Perhaps the coolest thing about oils- especially coming from pastels- is that you can add and change colors easily, and even go from dark to light. It makes adjusting colors and shading ten times easier.
Oil paints may seem intimidating, especially since they require a bit of investment to get started. But they’re a great medium, and really wonderful to work with. I did not hesitate to purchase my own supplies. I spent about $120 for my basic paints, 7 brushes, brush cleaner, palette knife, and drier. Considering how lovely the horses turn out and how long those items will last me, it is well worth it.
Doodlebug in his base coat
The downside to oils is how long the coats take to dry (even with additional drier). It’s very worth it, but patience is not my strong suit. I am eager to keep working on the horses in progress, and start a few more! I don’t intend to stop using pastels by any means, but I love having this new medium in my arsenal!