Basic Drawing - Online Art Supplies

Basic drawing is essential to good oil pastel drawing and painting. In order to paint well, you need to draw well. These pages will build till you have a complete basic drawing course that happens to be in Oil Pastels.

What you need to draw these projects and demos is simple. Some oil pastels, maybe a pencil or some erasable colored pencils, a kneaded eraser and a sketchpad or sketchbook with a lot of pages.

I prefer wire bound sketchbooks 9" x 12" or smaller because they fit on my scanner and lay flat. My favorites are the spiral bound hard cover ones that even need a drawing board. They're inexpensive online, especially if you watch for sale coupons.


Line is the most basic drawing skill you'll ever have. Accurate outlines are what you need to draw under any kind of painting.

Proportion Judging the proportions of anything by eye is tricky and takes a lot of practice, but once you have drawn the same thing many times it gets a lot easier to understand its proportions. Draw your favorite things over and over.

Gesture Drawing Fast one to five minute sketches will improve your observation and drawing skills more than you expect. Also linked under Creativity as a daily art exercise anyone can do.

Contour Drawing

A more advanced treatment of line that follows the shapes of shadows as well as objects.


You can shade a drawing many different ways. Gradual shading is an important skill for realism. Shading establishes the depth of objects and makes them look three dimensional.


Whether you're drawing trees and mountains in a landscape, buildings on a city street or two cans on a tray right in front of you, perspective is how to make things look three dimensional and real. Good linear perspective gives depth to the whole painting.


A Japanese concept and technique that's become popular with many Western artists as a way to make your art more powerful, more dramatic and expressive, with better composition.

Color Theory Color theory, identifying colors and how they behave next to each other is a way to get true color -- or exciting color that comes out better than life.

Composition How to decide the shape and size of your picture, and where to place its focal point using the Rule of Three. Why it's good to crop photos or move the objects in them to suit yourself. Also why there's No Kissing!

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Each of these sebjects has its own special demands. Though all of the general topics above apply to any of them, when it comes down to choosing a palette or studying specific textures, techniques and traditional methods, it helps to look at them in detail.

These are also often judging categories in major art competitions. If you want to do a complex drawing that involves more than one of these, say a landscape with people and animals in it and flowers in the foreground, study all the relevant articles and then put it all together.

Edit as of July 3, 2009:

Many articles in this section will also appear in the "What to Paint?" tab on the Nav Bar. I'm not removing these categories, but I will be dealing with the specifics of drawing in the articles on how to paint them in oil pastels too. If any articles only involve a pencil, they belong here. If they use color or involve oil pastel techniques too, they appear in both.

Still Lifes

Objects that don't move are very easy to draw. You might want to start with this section.

Still Life Setup begins a series of tutorials on creating still life paintings in Oil Pastels.


A series of topics about drawing human beings.


A series of topics about drawing animals including different types of creatures. This includes every living thing that isn't human, snails and fish and bugs as well as dogs and cats.


Anything outdoors with a horizon, including cityscapes and views where the horizon's obscured by trees or a tall hill or something.


Some principles apply even in completely nonrepresentational art, or art where accurate likeness gets distorted to make the painting look good. Find out why some blobs of paint thrown at a canvas come out as great art and others just look like a mess.


You may have a hard time finding a dragon or manticore to come pose for you, or you might want to depict an alien creature with five arms and radial symmetry. Learn how to make mythic and imaginative subjects look as real as if you had them come into your studio to pose.

Other Resources

For more basic lessons and advanced art lessons, visit This site includes an Oil Pastels section with an excellent demo created in Holbeins. is another great art site. Thaneeya has a distinctive personal style and a strong series of art lessons in different mediums and subjects including pastel, acrylic, drawing, painting, portraits, animals, landscapes -- and abstracts, at which she excels.

artmatch4u is an excellent resource for art instruction and art history. You can find forums, blogs, art courses, inspiration and community here. One of the two founders is a friend of mine who recently took a workshop with Albert Handell. Many soft pastel and oil painting techniques adapt well to oil pastels, so it's good to explore this site. Enjoy! Artist Dominika Brylka has an elegant website. It's well crafted and easily navigated. Her work is professional and gorgeous, well worth your study. Her site is one of the best examples I can think of for any new artist to look at for how to present yourself and your works online. She's full of interesting stories and wonderful paintings in many different mediums and styles. Live life to the fullest! | Learn How to Oil Paint Learn Oil Painting Techniques on this splendid, comprehensive site with plenty of free lessons and background information. I found it enjoyable and useful, looking forward to poking into oil painting. Remember, Oil Pastels go over Oil Paint, not under it if you're doing Mixed Media!

Fine Art Bender Fine Art Bender is an interesting site. Articles on art, drama, photography and fine arts as a way of improving your health and life make this very relevant to new oil pastels artists. See what benefits painting in oil pastels can bring you.

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