What kind of paper to use for Oil Pastels

Paper is an important part of any art-making process. Paper can be used for watercolor, acrylics, inks, and more. So what kind of paper do you use for oil pastels? There are many options when it comes to paper for oil pastels. Some artists prefer canvas or other heavy weight papers while others love the feel of newsprint. Personally I prefer canvas paper as it is heavy, it comes in a variety of colors, it mimics canvas which suits oil pastels perfectly and it is durable. This article will help you decide which type of paper is best suited for your style!

Oil pastels require a specific type of paper, which is designed and produced especially for them.

Oil pastels and other dry mediums should grab onto the texture of this paper to allow for easy application. Textured pastel papers are intended to be rough enough to accept oil pastels and other dry media.

If you are the kind of artist that likes to use oil pastels like paint then you also need paper that can handle being wet with mineral turpentine, white spirits or any other kind of paint thinner without falling to pieces.

This means the paper to use for oil pastels will need to be heavy or lined with canvas.

When you want to add turpentine or mineral spirits to your artwork, watercolor paper, mixed media paper, canvas paper, and even illustration boards are all wonderful choices.

These are all heavy papers that can be worked on wet as well as dry, making them ideal for combining with turpentine or mineral spirits.

My personal favorite is canvas paper. It is flexible, has tooth that lets the oil pastel stick and gives my artwork a canvas and more premium feel when I am finished.

Based on the above criteria, I have outlined a few papers that I believe are the best papers for oil pastels.


What kind of paper do you use for Oil Pastels?

I have listed the few brands of paper that I use for oil pastels. They are mostly all canvas paper as this is my personal preference.

Arteza Canvas Pad, 9 x 12 Inches, 10 Sheets, 100% Cotton

Arteza is known for offering a wide range of affordable art supplies, and their products are often popular among beginner and hobbyist artists. The Arteza Canvas Pad, with its 100% cotton canvas sheets, could be a suitable option for those looking to practice or experiment with different techniques without committing to a full-sized canvas.

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the quality of the Arteza Canvas Pad:

Canvas Quality: While the pad might offer a convenient format, the quality of the canvas itself is important. A 100% cotton canvas is generally a good sign, as cotton is a durable and preferred material for canvases due to its texture and absorbency.

Surface Texture: Consider the surface texture of the canvas. A canvas pad should ideally replicate the texture of a traditional stretched canvas, providing a suitable surface for various painting techniques.

Durability: Check for the thickness and durability of the canvas sheets. Thicker canvas sheets are less likely to wrinkle or buckle when you apply paint.

Absorbency and Paint Application: Cotton canvases tend to have good paint absorbency, allowing for smooth paint application and blending. Testing how different types of paint interact with the canvas can help you assess its quality.

Suitability for Mediums: Depending on your preferred medium (acrylic, oil, gouache, etc.), make sure the canvas pad is compatible with the paints you plan to use. Some pads are better suited for specific mediums.

Value for Money: Arteza products are often priced affordably, which can be great for beginners or those on a budget. Consider the balance between price and quality.

Arteza Acid Free

U.S. Art Supply 18″ x 24″ 10-Sheet 8-Ounce Triple Primed Acid-Free Canvas Paper Pad (Pack of 2 Pads)

US Art Supply Canvas Pad

Strathmore 400 Series Artagain Pad, Assorted Tints, 12″x18″ Glue Bound, 24 Sheets


Strathmore (362-9) 300 Series Mixed Media Pad, 9″x12″, 40 Sheets

Strathmore Mixed Media paper

What is the best material to use oil pastels on?

My personal preference for oil pastels is either canvas or canvas paper. Oil pastels are just basically oil paint in stick form.

If you use regular paper, the oil from the pastels seeps into it and makes a horrible mess when you try to erase them out. The oils will also bleed through the paper and ruin any other artwork that comes after it if your not careful what your doing.

Even if you have a drawing board or hard sketchbook, it’s best to even put a sheet of paper overtop so that all of the colors don’t soak through onto whatever is underneath.

Because once an oil pastel color has soaked in between layers of paper, there’s no saving it from bleeding straight through every drawing underneath it.

In addition to this, another problem with regular paper is that erasers can damage regular paper but not canvas or canvas lined paper.

One thing to remember is that oil pastels are meant for use on thicker-paper not cardstock so they don’t tend to mess up in transit or get damaged easily.

They can be used on anything that isn’t too thin or flimsy however; regardless of whether you want to take an oil painting with you to class (and don’t want it getting ruined), or want a sketchbook which will last longer than your average pad of paper would.

They should also not be used on anything that will be too absorbent as it will suck all the oil out of the pastel before it has dried properly, leaving a greasy base.

Can you use oil pastels on construction paper?

Paper is the most important thing to consider when using oil pastels. A simple sheet of typing paper may work fine, but if that’s too thin then the next weight up would be better as oil pastels are basically compressed oil pigment with an oil binder pressed into a pastel shape, making it a heavy medium compare to chalk pastels.

You want a material that isn’t glossy or extremely bumpy or wrinkled because the oils in an oil pastel are not absorbed by these materials well, which leads to breakage of the oil pastels.

Paper with some texture (also known as ‘tooth’) is great because it helps “grab” onto them more – this also prevents smudging.

Can you use printer paper for oil pastels?

Yes you can use printer paper for oil pastels but it is not recommended.

Printer paper is also known as copy paper and it’s usually prime coated with a substance known as titanium dioxide (this is the white substance that makes up about 20% of printer paper, or copy paper and it is used to make copy or printer paper white).

Titanium dioxide has very good resistance to abrasion and oil. It also prevents smudging and absorbs ultraviolet radiation.

You can use it for oil pastels but it does not have enough texture which leads to breakage in my opinion just a little bit because a person will put a lot of pressure on the paper when trying to sketch/draw/paint something.

Can I use sketch paper for oil pastels?

Sketch paper tends to be much lighter than drawing paper.

Sketch paper is usually made of wood pulp or cotton fiber which are both very absorbent materials. The fibers make the paper lighter, weaker and more breakable. I would stay away from sketch paper if I was using oil pastels unless I was just experimenting.

Can I use oil pastels on canvas?

Yes you can use oil pastels on canvas. Oil pastels are oil-based so they go on very well. The canvas provides a very nice tooth to work off of. Canvas is also very strong and durable.

Can I use oil pastels on Bristol board?

There are different kinds of bristol boards, there is vellum bristol which is lightweight but kind of flimsy if you are using lots of pressure in your strokes, but it does have good tooth.

There are also the more sturdy bristol boards that are made out of either cotton fibers or wood pulp which can be very absorbent when using oil pastels since the medium is all oils.

Cotton fiber bristol tends to be easier for me to draw on because it’s less absorbent than the wood.

Do I need to seal oil pastels on paper?

If you are using a canvas paper then it is less absorbent and I would not recommend sealing your oil pastels, but if you are using a bristol board then yes go ahead and seal it.

What about arches hot press paper and oil pastels?

Hot press paper is very smooth so it’s generally better for me when I’m finishing my piece with an acrylic glazing because the finish tends to be more even.

Cold press paper can be used as well though, especially if you do NOT plan on using any heavy oils on it.

For small sketches in oil pastel I find cold press works just fine and doesn’t smudge so much since there isn’t too much pressure put on these pieces and they aren’t meant to last forever.

Can You Use Oil Pastels on Watercolor Paper?

Yes you can use oil pastels on watercolor paper but ensure you use the heavier watercolor paper such as 90lb.

Thick watercolor paper is also good for oil pastels, but the smoother the paper is to begin with, the better oil pastels are going to work on it.

Just don’t make it too smooth or there won’t be enough tooth in the paper to grab and hold the oil pastel.

Can You Use Oil Pastels on textured paper?

Yes you can use oil pastels on textured paper, you can also use them on toned paper,

Can You Use Oil Pastels with Markers?

You cannot use oil pastels with markers because they are oil based and markers are usually water-soluble which means the oil pastel will repel the water based marker.

You can try alcohol markers instead or Posca paint pens which are basically acrylic paint in pen or marker form.

Is it Okay to Set Oil Pastels With Fixative?

No, don’t set the color with fixative. It weakens the color and makes it feel “tacky.”

Wrap up!

There are a few options for paper that work well with oil pastels.

The most important thing you need to know is whether or not the paper will remain flexible when wet, as this is what makes it ideal for combining with turpentine and mineral spirits.

My personal favorite is canvas paper because of how it feels more like an actual painting surface once I am finished working on it – but really any heavy papers can be used!

If you’ve been struggling to find some good artist supplies online, we want to help by providing you these helpful tips about picking out the right products.

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