Mr. Squirrel is in progress! I always start with the eyes and face - if that area doesn't look right, the whole painting won't work. Here I've laid down the base colors of his face. Then I've decided it's time for some contrast, so I add tiny dots of black oil pastel. I love black...it really helps to set off certain areas. I don't need much though, as one little dot will go a long, long way.
In the above photo, I've blended my little black dots using a tortillion. His face looks smoother and more formed now, thanks to the contrast of the black in the right areas. But I still have some work to do. I need to lighten things up a bit. At this point, I'd normally let the painting sit for a while which gives the oil pastels time to cool down and firm up. It's hard to lay lighter oil pastel atop of darker colors when they're hot. Instead of layering, they tend to just smoosh (is that a word?) together if they're too warm. So it had to cool. Today, I didn't want to wait, so I popped Mr. Squirrel into the freezer for about 3-5 minutes. It quickly cooled him down enough where I could continue.
Here I've lightened things up more and used some white color pencil to give some tiny fur lines on this forehead, to show the variety of colors there. I still need to work on his nostrils, mouth and the top of his left ear a bit more, but overall, I'm quite pleased with how he's coming along...which means this painting is off to a good start!