16 Japanese Nostalgic 1928 Oil Pastels


The Taisho period (1910s and 1920s) is considered an exhilarating time in Japanese history, when society at large opened to the world and went gaga for new and modern things. So many stationery items were invented in this early 20th century period, a time hungry for change. Just as new radical approaches to art were developing in Europe, Japanese artists too sought to sidestep  a traditional, formulaic and possibly strict approach to art practice. It may then be a surprise that oil art pastels, something we might consider to be a Western medium, think Degas or Toulouse Lautrec, is in fact a Japanese innovation - Sennelier and Picasso owe a lot to a culture from it very far removed geographically. Indeed the set here sold, is a fragment of Japanese history - 1928 to be exact - the year when oil crayons were first produced - still presented in the original packaging, so very retro and charming. 

Oil pastels do represent indeed a marked step away from the precise rendering of nature of 19th century Neoclassicism, and are by nature, imprecise and sensual, leaning towards a free-form and experimental sense of raw creativity. Like the impressionists and expressionists of the time, oil pastels lend themselves to bold bursts of colour and texture. Similar to dry pastels, they also give the artist an instant repertory of vibrant colours, usable on-the-go, which makes them the perfect companion for preliminary sketches and al fresco painting - oil paints' accessible and informal alter ego. 

Soft and creamy, these oil crayons are easily applied, blended and layered, including to large surface areas without unsightly edges. Colours can be mixed together right onto the paper without getting messy or loosing the integrity of each individual colour. Use a palette knife if you prefer to mix and apply - this can be done in thick layers for added texture and shaping (scumbling). Try Sgraffito technique,  where lines and textures can be 'carved' scraping lines and shapes out using hard tools. Oil pastels are usually used dry, but wan also be used wet, with a wet brush for a colour wash. As they are oil based they do not fully ever dry or cure and finished work should be fixed, using a glaze or fixative (try hairspray or specialty art products) 

These are but a few practical suggestions to illustrate what is an incontestably modern medium, versatile, and straightforward medium for any artist to experiment with. 

Paper pairing: just like pastels, oil pastels benefit from papers with a deep grain and  'tooth' which open up the pigment colour and encourage texture. You might try Aquarella or our 17th century pad. 

16 oil crayons in card presentation box
Dimensions: 8 x 15cm approx