Wax pastels are one of those artistic mediums that need more respect from more established and older artists. Many think wax pastels and the wax crayon are for little kids, but they are perfect for various art projects. It was while drawing with my daughter as a toddler I rediscovered the joys of wax pastels. The benefits of using wax pastels for art projects are great; they can enhance your art in ways that other pastels such as oil pastels or chalk pastels can’t.
With a unique blend of pigments found in traditional pastels and crayons and a wax binder, they open up to you a world of vivid colors, blend-ability, and versatility, such as encaustic painting and mixed media art. Wax crayons can be used to create unique art pieces as stand alone mediums.
One of the key advantages of using wax pastels in your pastel painting projects is their ease of use. If you’ve worked with crayons before, you already possess the necessary skills to dive into the world of wax pastels.
Their application closely resembles that of other drawing tools, making them a natural choice for artists looking for a quality upgrade from other types of crayons. Moreover, wax pastels are known for their bright, vivid colors, which can create eye-catching, high-contrast art pieces with only a few strokes.
Another vital aspect of wax pastels is their compatibility with various surfaces and mixed media techniques. Whether you’re working on textured paper or canvas, wax pastels can adhere effectively, offering brilliant pigments and smooth blends.
Not to mention, they’re an excellent choice for those looking to develop a loose and impressionistic style reminiscent of great artists like Monet. So go ahead, and explore the exciting world of wax pastels.
This blog post discusses the benefits of using wax pastels for art projects. Wax pastels offer vibrant colors, blendability, and versatility for various art projects. They can be used on different surfaces, such as paper, canvas, and wood.
I also cover techniques like blending, layering, and controlling the pastels to create different artistic effects. I also compare wax pastels to oil pastels, highlighting their differences and unique characteristics. In this post I also emphasize the aesthetic benefits of using wax pastels, such as bright colors, textured finishes, and effective highlighting.
And finally, I suggest project ideas like landscapes, abstract art, portraits, and still life. Additionally, I provide tips for preserving wax pastel art, including the use of fixatives, proper storage, and framing with UV-filtering glass.
If this is something that interests you, then keep reading.
Wax Pastel Versatility
Types of Art
Wax pastels offer a wide range of creative possibilities. You can use them to create various types of art, such as:
Sketching: Use wax pastels to create quick sketches with a hint of color. Their easy application allows you to focus on capturing the essence of your subject quickly.
Layering: Wax pastels can create rich depth and dimension when you layer colors. Applying two or more shades on top of each other can produce a stunning blend of hues.
Drawing: Wax pastels are great for creating detailed drawings. Their vibrant colors bring your artwork to life, and their smooth application makes it easy to produce crisp lines and intricate patterns.
Impressionist-style painting: Inspired by famous artists like Monet, take your wax pastels and create beautiful landscapes or other subjects using soft brushstrokes and blending techniques.
Mixed Media art: Mixing wax crayons with various types of paint such as acrylics, oil painting, traditional oil pastel and oil sticks, watercolors and printed media.
Encaustic painting: If you have never heard of encaustic painting, it is basically hot wax painting. This is when you heat a wax based medium such as wax crayons or wax mixed which colored pigments. You then pour or add this hot mix to a surface. I have used this method to make paintings that are similar to acrylic paint pouring art.
The trick to getting the most out of your wax pastels is using the right surfaces. Wax pastels can adhere to a variety of surfaces, including:
Paper: Choose high-quality, heavy-weight paper that can handle the bold colors and waxy texture of pastels. Some artists prefer to use a paper with a rough surface for added texture and depth.
Canvas: Prime your canvas with a layer of gesso before applying wax pastels. The gesso will provide a good base for the pastels to adhere to, and the canvas texture adds an interesting dimension to your artwork.
Wood: For an unconventional choice, try using wood as a surface for your wax pastel art. Be careful to avoid using oily woods, as the oil can interfere with color cohesion. Instead, opt for solid wood panels, MDF or plywood.
Textured surfaces: Wax pastels can bring out the best in textured surfaces like watercolor paper, pastel paper, or even sandpaper. The texture can add a unique finish to your artwork, so feel free to experiment.
Embrace your creativity and remember to have fun when experimenting with wax pastels. Whether you’re a beginner artist or a seasoned artist, wax crayons will enrich your projects and give you new inexpensive tools to express yourself.
Techniques for Using Wax Pastels
Blending is a key technique to achieve smooth color transitions in your artwork. To blend wax pastels, simply apply one color and then layer another color on top. Use your finger, a blending stick, or a hard brush to gently mix the colors together. Experiment with different amounts of pressure to discover your preferred level of blending.
I have also blended wax crayons by gently warming up a metal palette knife and then running it over the wax crayon. Try this method on smaller pieces to see if you like the effect as the result is a little different to what you might expect.
Remember to always clean your blending tools after each use to avoid unintentional color mixing.
Layering is another vital technique for creating depth and texture in your art. When using wax pastels, layering can be achieved in several ways:
- Light to dark: Start with lighter colors and gradually add layers of darker shades on top. This technique builds up the intensity of the colors and helps create a more dynamic piece.
- Dark to light: Begin with the darkest colors and gradually overlay lighter hues. This method is useful for creating highlights and a sense of illumination in your work.
Ensure that you keep the layers thin to avoid overwhelming the artwork with heavy strokes. Additionally, vary the direction of your strokes to add extra interest and texture.
Control is essential when working with wax pastels, and mastering it will enhance your artwork. Wax pastels are versatile and can produce a range of effects depending on how you use them:
- Fine lines: To create thin lines, hold the pastel like a pencil and use the tip to draw. Keep a gentle grip for better control.
- Broad strokes: For wider strokes, hold the pastel on its side and sweep it across the paper. This method is ideal for filling in large areas quickly or creating bold backgrounds.
To maintain control over your wax pastels, regularly sharpen the tips and edges. Utilize suitable surfaces, such as heavy paper or paper specifically designed for pastels, to ensure that your artwork remains crisp and vibrant.
Wax Pastels Vs. Oil Pastels
Wax pastels and oil pastels are both popular choices in the world of art for their vibrant colors and versatility. You can use them on various surfaces, such as paper, canvas, or even wood. They both offer smooth application, making them attractive options for artists of all levels.
Some key similarities between the two include:
- Pigment-rich colors that give your artwork a striking appearance
- Easy blending, allowing you to create seamless transitions between hues
- Wide array of available shades and brands to choose from
Despite their similarities, there are clear differences between wax and oil pastels that may influence your decision on which to use for a project.
- Made from a mixture of pigment, wax, and sometimes a small amount of oil
- Harder consistency, making them suitable for details and precise lines
- Less prone to smudging, allowing for cleaner results
- Tend to have a slightly matte finish
- Consist of pigment, oil, and a small amount of wax to help hold their shape
- They have a softer, buttery texture, which means they are great for broad strokes and covering large areas
- Can be used in a thicker, impasto style, providing stunning texture and depth
- Possess a more vibrant, glossy finish
While both wax and oil pastels have their advantages, the choice ultimately comes down to your personal preference and the goals of your specific art project.
By understanding the unique characteristics of each, you can make a better informed decision and get the most out of the process.
Just remember, practice makes perfect, and with time, you’ll discover new techniques and ways to utilize these versatile art mediums effectively.
Wax pastels provide a wide range of vibrant colors and bright colors. This, plus their size and bright colors are probably why wax crayons are thought to be for kids. With the high pigmentation found in wax pastels, your artwork will have bright and vivid colors, resulting in eye-catching artwork.
The texture of wax pastels allows for interesting and diverse effects on paper. When applied to textured paper, the rough surface catches the wax, creating a unique, textured finish.
This technique can help you create natural textures like rocks, dirt, tree bark, feathers, and wool. Experimenting with textured paper can add depth to your art projects and make them visually appealing.
Wax pastels can be used to create effective highlights in your artwork. With their vivid colors and smooth texture, they easily blend and layer, creating intricate highlights and shadows. This versatility is key when adding dimension and emphasis to certain parts of your piece.
Remember, using wax pastels in your art projects can provide many aesthetic benefits, including vibrant colors, captivating textures, and impressive highlights. So, don’t hesitate to explore this medium and have fun creating beautiful artwork with wax pastels!
Projects with Wax Pastels
Wax pastels are a versatile medium that can elevate your art projects. To get started, choose high-quality wax pastels for vivid colors and smooth application.
Remember to use the most appropriate touch when applying pastels, as pressing too hard can lead to muddy colors while pressing too soft can make the pastel hard to see. Experiment with applying the right level of pressure, layering and blending techniques as needed.
Wax pastels allow you to create various effects in your projects. For starters, consider these approaches:
- Layering – Build up layers of colors to create depth and dimension in your artwork. Begin with lighter colors and gradually add the darker ones.
- Blending – Combine colors directly on your paper for a seamless transition between hues. Use your fingers or blending tools to merge the colors.
- Scraping – Scrape away portions of the top layer to reveal the color underneath, creating interesting textures and patterns.
- Masking – Protect certain areas of your artwork by covering them with paper or other non-stick materials; this method helps create clean, deliberate lines and edges.
Pieces of Art Suited To Wax Crayons
There are countless creative ways to use wax pastels in various art projects. Here are a few ideas to spark your imagination:
- Landscapes – Capture the beauty of nature by blending colors to create vibrant skies, lush forests, and tranquil waters.
- Abstract Art – Unleash your creativity by playing with colors, shapes, and textures for a unique and eye-catching piece.
- Portraits – Utilize the smooth, blendable characteristics of wax pastels to render lifelike skin tones and facial features.
- Still Life – Depict everyday objects in a new light by incorporating bold colors and a combination of smooth and textured surfaces.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating striking, visually engaging pieces of art with wax pastels.
Preserving Wax Pastel Art
As we are talking about wax crayons the most obvious thing comes to mind: heat. The key to preserving your wax crayon art is to keep it away from heat but there are other things that can damage this type of art (as it can for any art) so let’s have a look at what we can do to minimize it:
When using wax pastels in your art projects, applying a fixative is a necessary step. Fixatives help in securing your artwork and preventing smudging. Fixatives come in a variety of forms, such as sprays and brush-on solutions. To choose the best fixative for your masterpiece:
- Look for one that’s specifically designed for wax-based mediums.
- Ensure it is compatible with the surface (paper, canvas, etc.) you’re working on.
- Test the fixative on a small area first, to check for any undesirable effects.
Remember, always apply fixatives in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
When creating art, you want to make sure your work remains in good condition for years to come. To improve the longevity of your wax pastel masterpieces, consider these simple tips:
Storage: Safeguard your work from dust, moisture, and sunlight. Store framed or unframed pieces in a cool, dry place. Make use of acid-free matting and backing materials to prevent yellowing or deterioration.
Protection: When handling your artwork, wear gloves to avoid the transfer of oils and dirt from your fingers. Place a sheet of glassine or tracing paper over your finished work to provide an additional layer of protection.
Framing: Select a frame with UV-filtering glass to shield your piece from harmful ultraviolet rays. This type of glass is key in defending your artwork against inevitable fading and discoloration.
By investing time in the proper preservation of your wax pastel creations, you ensure they remain vibrant and intact, ready to be enjoyed by future generations.
Benefits of Using Wax Pastels for Art Projects – Wrap up!
Wax pastels offer many advantages for artists, making them a popular choice for various art projects. One of their main benefits is the ease of use. If you’ve ever used crayons, you’ll find that wax pastels feel familiar and comfortable in your hands. Their application process resembles many other drawing tools, so you can easily transition to using them.
Another advantage of wax pastels is their compatibility with a variety of techniques. You can mix them with other mediums, like oil pastels or pastel pencils, to create unique effects in your artwork. You’ll have the freedom to experiment and develop your signature style.
Let’s not forget about the vibrant colors that wax pastels provide. With their high pigment content and low binder ratio, you’ll enjoy stunning hues that pop off the canvas. Your artwork will come to life as you blend the pastels, achieving smooth transitions and shades.
Some additional benefits of using wax pastels for art projects include:
- Less mess – Wax pastels, unlike soft pastels, don’t crumble as easily, so your workspace will be cleaner. There is no dry pastel dust everywhere.
- Control over details – Their consistency allows for more precise lines and edges, which is vital for intricate designs.
With these advantages in mind, wax pastels could be the right addition to your art supplies. Remember to take your time while experimenting with different techniques and color combinations. Learn what works for you and what doesn’t and slowly push the boundaries of what you can do. Have fun with this medium.
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com