I'm very new to both landscape painting/drawing and using and mixing colors, so one of the reasons for making relatively simple paintings and drawings is my inexperience.

I got a small pack of oil pastels as a Christmas present and I started practicing and painting landscapes.

I want to ask for some advice based on one of my paintings - the one I pasted below - which was painted this morning.

I used lighter and cooler shades in the distance, and making the sides of the slope darker.

For the pines I tried to make the right sides darker and add a little bright green and yellow to the left and a "weak" shadow to the right to emphasize the direction of the sun rays.

The darker, slightly blended line on the foot of the mountains is a forest. I tried to make it as light as I could to not to make it seem "nearer".

I just feel like the drawing looks too childish, too amateur - like it could be improved a million times. I watched landscape photos and other oil pastel paintings as well.

It seems to me more contrast would be good, and I thought about adding grass and flowers, which I'm sure I'll learn how to paint. Nevertheless, some objective, "general" advice would be very helpful :)

I use print paper and "normal" paper for writing. I cannot afford professional sketchbooks and papers at the moment.

The drawing:

enter image description here

4 Answers 4


The problem is not in your drawing - it's in the pastels. There are some media in which the quality of the materials you use make a huge difference, and oil pastels is one of them. (I also didn't like the childish way my pastel drawings looked, but getting a set of Faber Castel oil pastels changed it all.) So if you are into oil pastels, I'd suggest you get a set of good quality ones. They are expensive, but they are worth it.

Also, you could use cartridge paper instead of writing/printing paper. It is the general purpose paper for artwork - it is thicker than writing/printing paper and it is not expensive.


user18894 is correct in that the quality of your media is reflected in the quality of the art work but there are some other things you could consider. First the paper you use is very important. You should try something with more "tooth," that is roughness, that can grab the pastels and add texture to the drawing. Any plate paper, one that is perfectly smooth, will not do well with oil or any other type of pastel. Invest in a few sheets of charcoal or pastel or even water color paper and you will see a difference right away.

Something else that comes to mind is that you could mix and layer different colors together to get much more developed and interesting effect. The trees are the most successful part of the drawing your posted, and they show the most complexity in the use of color and tone. You are right about cooler colors receding and showing distance, but you could put more work into the mountains as far as variety of color and detail while keeping it light. The foreground grass is the least developed where as it should be the most detailed or developed. It is the closest to our eye so our brain expects there to be more there, more contrast, more solidity.

Also there are some color conventions like the fact that shadows, as under the trees, are cooler in color than lit areas. For example Maxfield Parrish made extensive use of saturated color temperature in his work. Studying the work of professional artists that you may aspire to and analyzing their methods would help you with your own technique.

You have a good start here effectively modeling form and distance with color and tone. You just need to keep developing it.


I’d take a look at three things:

  1. The shape of the mountain peaks - could they be drawn with more natural lines and angles? They are all triangular in shape and about the same size (save for the one on the left).

  2. The strokes, especially in the grass. I once read an article that suggested treating brush strokes like characters in a story. If they’re noticeable, it’s important to give attention to the length and angle of the strokes. Perhaps experiment with different kinds of strokes and see what works.

  3. Dark and light: it looks like darker values are the same pastel, but with more pressure/intensity applied. As another poster suggested, consider using different pastels for darks and lights of the same hue.

  1. Use a variety of colors. One of the best parts about oil pastels is that they come in many different hues, so you can use them to create any color imaginably! It’s important to have multiple shades on hand when working with this medium because if you use too much white or black, your painting will appear dull.

  2. Use a fixative spray to protect your work. Oil pastels tend to smudge easily, so it’s important that you take precautions by spraying your finished painting with a fixative finish before displaying it! You can find these sprays at most art stores or online and they are relatively inexpensive.

  3. Keep colors from blending. Oil pastels will eventually blend and mix if you leave them exposed to the air for too long, but it’s important that you use a fixative spray before displaying your work so that this doesn’t happen!

    If you are a beginner will suggest you start from basic as describe here. This way you will learn how to draw with oil pastels.

  4. Use other mediums in conjunction with oil pastels. It can be difficult to achieve the desired look with oil pastels alone. Consider using other mediums like watercolors, acrylic paints, or colored pencils for different effects!

  • Can you expand on "oil pastels will eventually blend and mix if you leave them exposed to the air for too long"? Using a fixative is indeed useful when wanting to display works, but how can it help someone improve working with pastels? This also applies to your last point: using different materials can improve a drawing in general, but won't (directly) help the problem the OP is facing. And whenever you're posting links, please provide the relevant information from that link (and preferably your affiliation if unclear).
    – Joachim
    Jun 5, 2021 at 8:28

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