Can You Use Oil Pastels With Acrylic Paint


One of the great things about art is the ability to mix your media to create new effects. Many people want to know if they can use oil pastels with acrylic paints to challenge their art.

That depends on the situation. The short answer is no you cannot use oil pastels with acrylic paint because oil and water do not mix. The longer answer is that you can use oil pastels in certain circumstances. Below I explain why this is and how, when you can use them and a modern invention that may solve the problem.

Oil and water do not mix not even in the paintwork however there are ways around this problem if you really want to use the two mediums together.

Can I Use Oil Pastels With Acrylic Paint?

Oil pastels and acrylics are two very different mediums. Acrylics are a combination of pigments held in an acrylic Polymer Emulsion. Acrylic paints are a man-made water-soluble paint.

Now take oil pastels. Oil pastels are a stick for drawing and painting that are made with a mixture of pigments that are then mixed in with a non-drying oil and waxed binder. Oil is a natural medium. These are completely different from your usual oil paints.

as you can see the two of very different mediums and they do not mix well together. Oil and water do not mix as the oil does not dissolve in the water. 

Also, acrylics dry very quickly whereas oils dry very slowly. I’ll pastels however I designed with a nondrying oil as stated above period

So if you use oil and then acrylics picture will eventually peel because the two do not mix well together and they will eventually separate ruining your picture..  the underlying layer of oil pastels will never dry. 

Can I Use Oil Pastels Over Acrylic Paint

While you cannot use oil pastels with acrylic paint you can use acrylics allow them to dry and then paint with oil pastels over the top of them. 

Experimentation is always fun in art, however, there are other mediums that would work better together.

Using Fixative Does It Work? 

Using fixative for your oil pastels does not really work either because even the fixative itself does not dry. Yes, it will harden your oils but not dry them.

Student Grade Oil Pastels

Using a student grade oil pastel can help if you want to join the two mediums as student grade oil pastels are much harder than artist quality ones.

Will Acrylic Paint Stick To Oil Based Paint?

No acrylic paint will not adhere to oil based paint for the see the reasons shown above.

I Still Want to Use Them Together. Is There a Solution?

Yes, there are two solutions. One is to use the oil over the acrylic and the other is to change the oils. Let me explain.

If you still want to Use Oil Pastels with Acrylics do the following:

  1. Paint what you need to with your acrylic paints.
  2. Allow the paint to dry fully.
  3. Then add your oil pastels over the top where needed.

Use Oil Pastels WITH Acrylic a Possible Solution?

Thankfully many of the limitations that previous generations had with paint mediums has been removed and is continuing to improve. 

Now you can get water soluble oil pastels. These are fantastic. They are a great way to paint in their own right. Much like acrylics, you can use them like oils or like watercolor.  

Also for those that want to mix oil and water mediums. It is finally possible! This means that you can use them with your acrylics.

The advantages of using water-soluble oil pastels are:

  1. They are much softer to use than normal oil based student oils.
  2. They do not have to be used with water if you don’t want to.
  3. They blend smoothly.
  4. They can be used with acrylic or on their own.
  5. Some can be used with water to create watercolor-like art. 

Do You Really Need to Combine Oil Pastels & Acrylics?

As both oil pastels (epically the water ones) and acrylics are very versatile mediums in their own right do you really need to combine them? 

You can get everything from a thin watercolor effect right up to a thick opaque covering with both of these paints. There are many different things you can add to change the way these paints work.

A Final Note

Here I have covered the ways currently possible to combine the use of oil pastels with acrylic paint media that are currently available. 

To recap:

  1. Normal Oil pastels and acrylic paint do not and should not be mixed together. 
  2. If you want to use them together use oil pastels over (on) the dried acrylic paints for the best results and to prevent cracking.
  3. Try out the water-soluble oil pastels and mix them with acrylic mediums. 

Try different approaches and see which suit your style of painting best. 

Note though that not all water-soluble oil pastels work the same. Some are better than others and work better. Also some “water-soluble” oil pastels people have found not to be.

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