Oil Pastel Painting

Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

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Try these easy oil pastel painting techniques with kids. Combine the vibrant colors & smooth application of oil pastels with baby oil for a painting effect.

Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

We have a new favorite art technique—oil pastel painting—that we owe to a friend I’ve never met who lives on the other side of the world (in Australia).

I first learned about this oil pastels + oil art from Kate’s post on Picklebums. When she said it was their favorite kids art activity, I knew we had to give it a try.

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Here’s a video of this art technique in action:

Doesn’t that make you want to try this?!

Painting with Oil Pastels and Oil

And here are photos and instructions of oil pastel painting.

Painting with Oil Pastels and Oil

Then we did again.

Oil Pastel Painting

And again.

Then we tried a variation. And another. And another.

We’re hooked.

Oil Pastel Painting with Kids - Finished Artworks

Here’s the how-to for this oil pastel art technique plus our variations…

Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

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For the optional variations:

Drawing with Oil Pastels

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Draw with the oil pastels on paper.

Oil Pastel Painting with Oil

2. Dip a Q-tip in oil then rub over the oil pastel drawing.

Oil Pastel Painting with Oil

Watch as the oil pastel blends, spreads, and becomes more paint-like with the addition of oil and friction.

Tip: Use a different Q-tip for different colors. OR experiment with color mixing.

Oil Pastel Painting with Oil

You can also draw really lightly with the oil pastels, as I did here with the side of a broken oil pastel, and then use the oil to blend it into a more cohesive band of color.

That’s all for the basic technique!

Oil Pastel Painting Variations

Watercolor Wash over Oil Pastel Painting

1. Try some watercolor resist by painting with watercolors over your finished oil pastel painting.

Oil Pastel Painting Technique with Watercolors

2. Draw with oil pastels, paint with watercolors, let dry, then do the oil rubbing step.

Oil Pastel Painting over Line Drawing

3. Draw a picture with Sharpie permanent markers first, then add oil pastels to color in some areas, then do the oil rubbing step. Here’s Daphne’s house drawing/painting above.

Oil Pastel Painting over A Line Drawing of Peonies

And here are my peonies, using this technique. (I added a blue watercolor wash for the background afterward.)

Oil Pastel Painting on Canvas

4. We tried oil pastel painting on a stretched canvas but it didn’t work especially well. Probably because the canvas was treated and was not able to absorb any of the oil or oil pastels the way porous paper does. I don’t recommend this one.

If you have oil pastels in the house, I highly recommend giving at least the basic oil pastel painting technique a try with your kids! (And joining in yourself, of course.)

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Try these easy oil pastel painting techniques with kids. Combine the vibrant colors & smooth application of oil pastels with baby oil for a painting effect. #kidsart #artsandcrafts #kidsactivities #drawing #painting

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Anya
    June 13, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Wow, what a cool technique. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply
    Jackie
    June 13, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I love the vibrant colors of oil pastels . They’re great on black paper and we often do a black tempera paint wash over our pastel pictures. But how do you protect the pictures from smearing after they’re completed? One of my daycare parents ruined a very expensive dress carrying her daughter’s painting home. It did not wash out!
    Any tips

    • Reply
      Stephanie
      June 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Jackie,
      I just thought I’d throw out a suggestion… There are fixatives and varnishes for oil pastels but I wouldn’t recommend any of that stuff for little kids. I read a while back about acrylic gels being used as a top coat for oil pastel paintings, which got me thinking: could you use a glue gel as a top coat for kids’ oil pastel paintings? Your question really made me curious to try out this idea! I see a trip to the craft store tomorrow! :) If it does work (crossing my fingers!) I’ll probably write a blog post about it.
      Stephanie
      tickledbug.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie
      June 25, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      The glue gel works, in fact regular white glue also works (although it did dull the shine of the oil pastels)! Just paint a layer of glue over the oil pastels and let it dry. The paper will warp a bit but can be flattened with a little weight once the glue is dry.
      I hope this helps! :)
      Stephanie
      tickledbug.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Jelli
    June 13, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I had no idea you could make paintings with oils beyond the typical use or using as watercolor resist. Love this and can’t wait to try it with my little ones. We just came across 2 boxes of oil pastels at our ministry base that have just been sitting around with no use. Can’t wait to bust ’em out and get to painting! Thanks so much for the inspiration, Jean.

  • Reply
    Art Projects and Crafts for Kids
    June 25, 2015 at 2:47 am

    This one really one of great idea. Pastel drawings and paintings glow with an intensely luminous color and rich velvety texture. This is because pastel powder is pure pigment. You also did Optional variations very well. I liked this style.
    Well said by someone “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”

  • Reply
    Gloria Coutts
    January 11, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I fix oil (or chalk) pastels with a light coat of inexpensive, unscented hair spray when done. It may slightly darken or dull (not always), but after the sprayed paper quickly dries, any change is not very noticeable and the hair spraying makes the surface almost perfectly non smudgy to fingers or clothing. I find it’s the best way to get pastels from school to home. (Of course, I spray the artworks away from the children!)

  • Reply
    Sarah
    February 11, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    What type of oil did you use for these? I tried vegetable oil and it just soaked the paper and left grease marks that did not come out after drying. I’m wondering if baby oil works better?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 12, 2018 at 4:21 am

      We’ve done it with both kinds of oil, Sarah, but usually just use a generic vegetable oil like sunflower oil or canola. The oil is initially greasy but for us the extra oil absorbs into the paper after a while and doesn’t feel greasy.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    November 7, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve been searching for a way to seal the artwork and keep the oil pastels from making a mess. I can’t wait to try it. Our local art center has a program that lets parents volunteer to teach a lesson about a piece of art work then have the kids make their own art. I love spending time in the classroom and teaching art techniques to the kiddos. I hope this will allow me to use another medium.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      November 9, 2018 at 5:43 am

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy the activity, Sarah! And your local art program sounds great!

  • Reply
    Laura
    November 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I couldn’t get the oil to “activate.” I used vegetable oil and it just kind of went through the page without mixing with the pastels. Any suggestions?

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      November 30, 2018 at 7:01 am

      You used oil pastels, right, rather than chalk pastels?

  • Reply
    Laura
    November 30, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Yes, I tried two different kinds of oil pastels I had on hand.

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