Using Pastels On Wood
One of the other surfaces pastels can be painted on.
The Tale of the Decoy Duck
I recently had a very interesting question come in to me from artist SuEllen Askew which, I
must admit, stumped me a bit. I think you may be interested in what transpired. Here are excerps from
the emails we sent back and forth.
I am very new to oil pastels and would appreciate your advice. I have just
finished carving a wooden duck decoy and had the idea to paint it with pastels. But I'm not sure
what I need to do to prepare the wood before painting and what kind of fixative to use afterward.
Can you advise me please?
Thank you so much for writing and sending me a question that I'm not sure I
can answer. I have never tried oil pastel on wood, however, I do know that it can be done. Here are
Because wood is porous and would have good "tooth" I would say that to put the
pastel onto it directly would be fine but, being oil, it probably would soak in and
stain and you may lose some of the intensity of color. I'm thinking that it would
be worth sealing the wood first - you could try clear Colourfix primer or even a
To seal the finished piece - you could try the usual fixatives that are specific to
pastels or you could try using a wood varnish.
Another thought (as you are new to oil pastels) is that you could try using a
little turpentine or mineral spirits - once you have put the pastel onto the surface
you can then use a brush or soft cloth with a little turpentine to help
spread it out - make sure you are in a well ventilated room though.
However, if it was me, I would experiment on spare pieces of wood with
different ways (making sure you write down the formula) and see which one works the
There was a bit of a space in time, then, to my delight I
Took your advice and did some experimenting on a piece of white pine. The
wood used to carve the duck is basswood and looks similar to the pine.
I applied the pastels directly to the bare wood and used linseed oil to
blend the colors. After finishing the painting, I sprayed it with Grumbacher gloss fixative. It
gives the duck a little shine and probably would look more natural with a matte finish. But since
he will not be used as a real decoy, I am happy with the results and appreciate your
And just so you know this is real - here is the before
Thank you, SuEllen, for