I'm a pretty new artist myself, but I found that the pencil tool is nice for this kind of thing. they blend well. kind of hard to see from the thumbnail, but that's what I used for the background in my avatar. started with yellow, then gradually moved the slider to orange (little by little) then to a red-orange. Over-lapped each change in color a bit before blending them together with the palette knife. Different texture than oils or crayons to be sure, but I like it Can find the full-sized pic in my gallery if you need it. All done in a single-layer. Best of luck!
(Edit: changed "portrait" to "avatar.")
(Edit #2: I'll post my own shot at this with pencil tool later on. right now though, I gotta get some sleep )
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
-- Henry David Thoreau