Oil Pastel & Watercolor in Southern Utah

See how to combine oil pastel and watercolor, painting plein air on site in Southern Utah.

12 min. video

Techniques for how to layer the watercolor and oil pastels together to create the bark and textures of a tree, as well as the grass and forms of colored rocks are explained in depth.

Demo and commentary by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Video Walkthrough

  • Combing art media is very useful in that you get to maximize the special “talents” that each art media has.
  • Oil pastel is very helpful for creating very solid, concrete patches of color that have texture.
  • Watercolor provides a speed and spontaneity that oil pastel really can’t achieve.
  • Having an underpainting in watercolor prevents the problem of the white grain that oil pastel inherently has on white paper.
  • You can go back and forth between the oil pastel and watercolor work, they complement each other very well.
  • A cotton rag is really handy when you put down a watercolor mark that is too dark, or has too much water in it.
  • You don’t have to visit a spectacular site in a foreign country to have something worth painting!
  • The convenience of painting a subject that is close to home is not to be underestimated.
  • Observing the “anatomy” of the tree, how it twists and turns was key to showing this tree’s personality.
  • To capture those twists, having a wide range of physical actions and directions in your wrist as you paint and draw is very effective.
  • The grass in between the rocks and the tree behaved like “glue,” to create cohesion in the scene.
  • Sometimes you have to do a little weeding to get the view you want to paint.
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Prof Lieu’s Tips

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I find that when you overdo it, go too far and ruin a piece, that it provides you with a much better reference for what is “too much,” as opposed to inching slowly towards where you think you want to be.

Even as a basis for comparison, when you have 2 versions of your piece that you can look at side by side, you’ll find that seeing where you want to go becomes a lot clearer.

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