Friday, 24 April 2015

Elephant No. 129: Cheapo Oil Pastels

As many of you may know by now, I'm a sucker for anything that comes in a bunch of colours. So how could I possibly resist a set of 24 oil pastels for two dollars from the dollar store? Clearly, I couldn't.

It's not like I don't have other oil pastels, dry pastels, Conté crayon, watercolour pastels, and probably any other kind of pastel you care to name (except cake pastels, which are next on my list). But this has 24 colours, and even comes with its own holder and sharpener. I have a visceral dislike of pastel and chalk on my fingers, so this is a definite bonus.

So that I could at least pretend that this was a sensible purchase, I decided to draw an elephant with this new set. I had no idea what to expect, but the pastels looked a bit dry, so I assumed they'd fall somewhere between a dry pastel and a true oil pastel.

The texture turns out to be something like a chalky, slightly moist crayon. And I actually quite liked these. My first drawing was just a quick throwaway sketch to test the way these worked. I'm not good with oil pastels, so I had no expectations at all.

Next, I decided to try drawing from a photograph to see if I could create something more detailed. This was the photograph I used.

Two Asian elephants.

I began with yellow, red and orange, then blended it a bit with a tortillon. The pinkish background is because the inexpensive sketchpad paper has a pink undertone.

Next, I added a bit of blue and purple.

And then some green.

While I liked this, I thought it needed the faintest bit of black, so I used a fine-tipped gel pen to scribble in a few  lines, wrinkles and spots. You can see the final result below.

I didn't expect much from a box of oil pastels that cost a mere two dollars, but I was pleasantly surprised. And this drawing took me less than two hours, which is always a bonus. I now think that I need to buy a second set of these cheapos, just so that I don't run out.

Elephant Lore of the Day
People tend to think of elephants as full-speed-ahead animals, capable of crashing through streams, up and down hills, and through fields, fences and walls. But sometimes an elephant can get itself into a jam that it just can't get out of on its own. Holes—particularly holes filled with mud—pose a particular challenge.

This story was sent to me by my friend and neighbour Maureen. In early March of this year, an elephant got stuck in the mud near Makindu in Southern Kenya. Sinking into a veritable quicksand of soupy clay, the elephant was unable to climb the steep sides of the hole, despite the best efforts of rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The elephant remained stuck for 12 hours before being saved by a Chinese construction company working nearby. A backhoe operator carefully created a long channel, providing the exhausted elephant with a way out. The video is embedded below. To read more, including a link to still photographs, click here.

To Support Elephant Welfare

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