Cray-Pas Oil Pastels

 

The first time I picked up an oil pastel was in the fourth grade, when I fell head-over-heels in love with the notoriously shorty of Post-Impressionist fame, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If I recall, it all started with an assignment to create a class report on a famous artist that I took far too seriously. When the project was assigned, there was no doubt in my mind that I would report on Toulouse-Lautrec. Just the weekend before my grandma and I had visited the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where I became hypnotized by the artist's boisterous cabaret ladies drawn fanatically in day-glo colors I never knew we were allowed to use. That a lady's face could be colored absinthe green and her legs neon purple simply blew my mind.

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights , Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

At the Moulin Rouge , Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

I came away from the museum knowing two things:

1. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was my new favorite artist of all time. 
2. Oil pastels, Toulouse-Lautrec's art material of choice, were the coolest thing ever. 

Fast-forward thirteen years later, and I still feel the same way. If you ask me, oil pastels, specifically Sakura of America's Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels, are an essential in any art class or creative home. Why, you ask? Well if Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings aren't proof enough, get this: oil pastels are so incredibly waxy and smooth that when you drag a stick across the page it feels like drawing with butter. It's insanely satisfying! 

Also, Cray-Pas are filled to the brim with delicious pigment, and are exceedingly more rich and vibrant than your run-of-the-mill oil pastels. The smooth quality of the sticks allows Cray-Pas colors to be super easy to mix and blend. There's many different styles and techniques for drawing and blending, and it's fun to experiment with oil pastels to see what works.  

Some helpful tips and tricks for using Cray-Pas oil pastels that I've learned over the years:

1. Mixing colors with your fingers (like you easily can with chalk pastels) is fun, but pretty messy. Try using a palette knife to mix, or experiment with the amount of pressure you use when you press down your pastel. 

2. Experiment with different drawing surfaces. Grey and dark beige heavy weight paper amplify the vibrance of the pastels. Pastels also look ultra-cool on cardboard!

3. There are many different stroke methods you can use to create interesting effects with oil pastels. You can layer colors to create unique color combinations, or try sgraffito, a method of scratching lines through thick layers of colors to reveal the color underneath. 

You can also try stippling, a method where you use short, quick strokes or dots of color to create an optical effect when seen from far away, as in Georges Seurat's Pointillism paintings. To create a soft, defused effect like Claude Monet, try scumbling by creating controlled scribbled marks. 

Close-Up of  Circus Slideshow,   George Seurat, 1888

Close-Up of Circus Slideshow,  George Seurat, 1888

Impression, Sunrise , Claude Monet, 1872

Impression, Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872

 

4. For inspiration, make sure to check out Toulouse-Lautrec's gorgeous oil pastel sketches of everyday life. 

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

 
 

We're so excited to have Sakura sponsor Issue #4 of Illustoria, which is on shelves and available now. We hope you enjoy our Cray-Pas oil pastel tips, now get out there and start sketching! 

Giveaway! Art supplies + Issue 3

 
 

Get your hands on The Outside-In Issue plus these amazing art supplies by our issue 3 sponsor, Sakura of America. Kids and grownups will love drawing with Pen-touch paint markers. If you haven't read our review of these versatile, easy-to-use markers, check it out here. And Micron pens are our absolute go-to tool for letter writing, drafting, doodling, sketching, and drawing. 

Head to our Instagram post for giveaway entry details. Good luck!

Sakura's Pen Touch Marker Review

 

If you’re like me, the kind of person that makes a beeline for the pen section at an art store, and then lingers farrrr too long before making a purchase, than you too will understand that there is truly nothing more satisfying than a thick, inky marker. Finding a marker that is super opaque, saturated with color, lasts a long time, AND is shiny is a rare, rare thing. Pretty much the holy grail of markers. Well, you can call me King Arthur because the quest is over. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Sakura’s Pen Touch paint markers.

Tee-dah! Wow, so beautiful right? While these markers will not provide eternal youth or instant nirvana; abundant happiness it can offer - I’ll promise you that much. These markers are extremely versatile. They can draw on pretty much any surface (glass, wood, porcelain, plastic, paper and metal) and will dry instantly. But it’s not regular ol’ ink coming out of the tip--- it’s super rich, opaque paint!

They come in a range of sizes from 0.7mm (thin) to 2.0mm (super thick) which is great for creating and experimenting with variety of line widths. Packs come in metallic (gold, silver, and copper) and assorted colors (purple, blue, yellow, red, green, white and black).

The ink flows from the chamber of the pen to the tip, so to get started give ‘em a couple shakes with the cap still on, then uncap. Depress the tip in an upright position to release any internal pressure. Press firmly on a piece of paper until the ink is released. (Be sure not to over-pump.) Occasionally, the tip will run out of ink, but fear not! Just continue to shake the marker and more paint will flow.

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I’ve been using these guys on everything from protest posters to paper mache! Gatta say, they make nearly every project 100% cooler, and they’re waaayyyy faster to use than actual paint. You can achieve finer, smoother detail too. Just remember, these paint markers are permanent and will stain! So, best to use on non-precious objects, aka NOT the walls, hands, grandma’s hundred year old porcelain, etc.

We're so excited to have Sakura sponsor Issue #4 of Illustoria, which will be on shelves this spring. Meanwhile, you can grab your Pen Touch paint markers and start drawing! 

**** NOW thru 3/31/17: Enter promo code SAKURA at checkout for a 10% discount off ILLUSTORIA subscriptions and gift subscriptions! ****


 

 

ILLUSTORIA Launch Party

 
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Come join us to celebrate the launch of ILLUSTORIA!

Get your hands on our first issue! Meet the staff, color and craft, clink some glasses. Free goodie bags for first 50 kids, so come early. Enjoy snacks, a free photo booth, a chance to win a raffle prize, plus readings by Illustoria's art director, Elizabeth Haidle, and a fave local author, Amy Novesky. We look forward to growing our community of artists, writers, makers, educators, librarians, retailers, and friends--so come join! 

When: Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (PDT) / activities + bubbles + snacks throughout / talks + readings at 3pm / raffle prize drawing at 4pm

Where: Minted Local - 222 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108  

Please RSVP to let us know you will be coming. 

Many thanks to our amazing event sponsors, Minted & Sakura of America:

 
 

FAQs

Can I invite friends?

Yes! We encourage you to spread the news to all your creative friends and their creative kids.

What activities can we expect for kids?

There will be coloring and crafts, a tattoo station, a free photo booth, and readings from our premiere issue.

Will we be able to purchase issue 1?

Yes! We'll be selling our first issue and you can also purchase a discounted subscription to the magazine.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

Minted Local is just a 1-minute walk from the White House Garage lot and a 4-minute walk from the Montgomery Street BART station. 

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Contact hello@illustoria.com with any questions or to RSVP for a large party.

 

 

 

We Heart Sakura

 

Who doesn't love a maze?! But with a selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens at our side, doodling and writing takes on another level of playful pleasure. Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

When Michaela Yee at Sakura of America heard about us through a Facebook post, she connected with us right away. Aside from the fact that we have an amazing friend (Patricia Wakida of Wasabi Press) in common--one of those connectors of people who attracts artistic, talented, energetic, generous souls into her life--we both knew right away that Sakura and ILLUSTORIA were going to get along like playground pals at recess. 

 
Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

 

While Sakura as a company is nearing its centennial and ILLUSTORIA is just a newborn pup, we have a lot in common. We believe in quality materials, access to artistic expression for all, and keeping creativity alive in both grownups and little ones. I must admit, as the new kid on the block I was already smitten with everything that Sakura represented. Art supplies are one of those pleasures that need not be guilty! Micron Pens are a staple in our house, with my architect-maker husband constantly sketching with his number 01s and 02s and on up the spectrum. The Pigma Sensei Pens are never far out of reach of my 10-year-old comic artist in the making, and my youngest can't get enough of his collection of Gelly Roll Pens.

 
Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©   Melissa Kaseman

Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

We pretty much as a family tote them around to every and all long car rides and dinners out. I personally use a selection of all the above to capture my wandering thoughts and doodles. There's really something so satisfying about putting not just pen to paper but really lovely ink that glides oh-so smoothly and beautifully. The words and illustrations somehow look more intelligent and attractive on the page. Really, it does!

 
A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

 

For Sakura, then, to see this new fledgling indie press and believe in us from the start--with no track record to show of but a lot of heart, enthusiasm, a dedicated team of contributors and a mission to inspire artistic expression, they proved to me that they are true supporters of the creativity cause. Their motto celebrates the "Power To Express" and we at ILLUSTORIA couldn't agree more. May we all tap into our own artistic expression and find the tools that work best for us individually, for our own daily creative practices. 

A very hearty thanks to our issue 1 sponsor, Sakura of America, for your support of us and your dedication to creative expression in all ages!