At some point during my childhood, someone (probably my grandmother) had bought me a box of Faber-Castell Creative Studio oil pastels. I’m sure I must have played around with them briefly but for the most part, they sat in the back of my cupboard, forgotten and neglected until they fell out while I was sorting out my art supplies a few months ago. By this time I’d acquired a couple of sets of artist grade oil pastels (which I loved), so I wondered how the Faber-Castell oil pastels would compare.
One thing I like about Faber-Castell products is that they usually come with a little booklet that includes a colour chart, tips and techniques for that product and a bit about the company’s history. Some items also come with a CD with more tutorials on it, but that seems to only apply to their artist-grade lines; as the Creative Studio oil pastels are student grade, they just come with the leaflet.
This 36-colour set includes a pretty full range of colours for its size. The oil pastels are round and have a paper label, with each one having a number corresponding to a chart on the lid telling you the colour name. The box claims these oil pastels are lightfast, but given that there is no pigment information on the packaging or on the pastels, I’m inclined to err on the side of caution and keep these solely for sketchbook or ‘play’ use.
Even with their medium-firm texture, these oil pastels still apply fairly smoothly. However, I didn’t find them quite as easy to blend and layer as the Sakura CrayPas Expressionists, another student grade oil pastel. I don’t know if it was because of the texture (these are slightly more firm than the Expressionists), but I found that the pastels seemed reluctant to go on over another layer, and if they did, it often lifted some of that layer, scraping it away instead of blending with it. When I breathed hot air on them and rubbed with my finger, they were quite difficult to blend, even though other oil pastels I use this technique with blend quite easily. They also seemed to be a little less pigmented and less opaque. This is to be expected given the price difference – I looked up the Faber-Castell oil pastels online and at about $30 for a box, they are half the price of the Expressionists, though you do get more colours in the latter – but it’s worth noting.
Here’s an illustrative-style sketch of an apple I did with the Faber-Castell oil pastels.
Those looking for a product that’s closer to artist grade in quality would be better served by shelling out the extra for the Expressionists (or a bit extra again for the CrayPas Specialist oil pastels), but if you’re buying oil pastels for a young artist or are just looking for a cheap set of pastels to sketch and play with, the Faber-Castell oil pastels will get the job done. Using more expensive art supplies can sometimes make inexperienced artists ‘freeze’ at the prospect of ‘wasting’ their good supplies on drawings or paintings that don’t turn out well and end up being thrown away, but a nice cheap set of oil pastels like this is a good way to break through that barrier and just have fun drawing.