Senellier Artist Oil Crayons


Delft Blue

Sennelier Artist Oil Crayons are one of my MOST favourite art supply – for me – a MUST have.  Every artist develops their own list as their style emerges & you continue to reach for the same thing, time and again.  They were developed by a company that has a passion for color, demonstrated by their  choice of pigments. The story goes that they circle the globe to find classic and rare pigments that possess qualities that are both beautiful and unique.

The founder of Sennelier – Gustave Sennelier was a chemist by trade.  He carefully researched the history and usage of pigments to develop a distinctive process for manufacturing oil colors. The process involved the formulation of precise methods for mixing tones, and for controlling opacity and transparency. He opened the doors of the Maison Sennelier at 3 Quai Voltaire in 1887, grinding his own pigments in the back yard. The ‘House of Sennelier has become somewhat of a landmark in Paris & can still be found today, facing the Louvre on the Left Bank, just around the corner from the École des Beaux Arts. The passing of more than a century has seen artists with names like Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Bonnard, Soutine, Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Chagall, and Dali pass through its doors. ….

Background_1_webSennelier Artist Oil Crayons come in about 100 different colours,  it’s not a huge colour range, however, it is one that has been well thought out & includes many of tonal nuances.  They were made in the ’40’s in conjunction with Picasso…..The resulting sticks feel like a soft pastel, but look and act like oil paints. Less fragile than traditional pastels,they can be built up to create heavy impasto effects, or combined with oil painting mediums for glazing and wash techniques. .they are like painting with a lipstick they are so soft. I don’t draw or paint real life overly well, so I am very reliant on stamped images, found imagery & I especially like Sennelier to blend the edges & create boarders & highlight colours…. or just to create the background all together.  If I am going to use them for a background, then I usually paint acylics underneath to give them some body.   I DON’T recommend that you buy them in sets, just pick out a couple of colours & see if you like them.  The colour combos in the smaller sets are not that good & you might not like them as much as if you just pick a couple of your fav. colours to try.   The DO need sealing though.  I use 1 of 4 ways to seal them:  Sennelier oil pastel sealer (ok – but expensive & very shiny); floor polish dabbed on with a make-up removing pad (gives a nice matt look, but you do loose some of the brilliance of the colours) or Golden Oil Sealer (needs to be brushed on for best results & this often ‘drags’ the composition) OR seed-lac. (still a bit too shiny for my liking, but the best treatment for the colours) 

This link will take you to the Sennelier web site & it gives a fascinating ‘guided tour’ of how the products are made:  Enjoy!!!  In OZ, I get them from Seniors Art Supplies – I believe that Dick Blick stocks them in the USA – but I am sure there are also other places to find them.


5 responses »

  1. What a wonderful thing for you to do…share what you love and have learned. This post was so helpful in my quest to find background tools. Bless you!
    xo Rella (from PW)

  2. Keron, I’ve been playing around with Portfolio watersoluble oil pastels. They are really creamy and easy to spread around. How well do these oil pastels spread and blend? I may just have to go out and buy a few to test them out. Thanks

  3. I have just bought some oil pastels (not sennelier) as I wanted to use in my 1st journal – gotta have a play with them to see how they work, love your articles on your fave products

  4. Hi Keron,
    I am a PW list member, and I have to tell you that I so appreciate you letting us know over there of these product reviews. I love finding “new” art products to play with, and it’s especially fun when you have someone with prior experience telling you how to use them! 🙂 Thanks again!

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