Kids of all ages (and adults) will love this super cool oil pastel painting technique.
Turn the bright colours and silky feel of oil pastels into paint just, by adding some oil. This easy process art activity is so much fun as you turn your oil pastel drawings into oil pastel paintings!
Sometimes I set up an art activity for my kids and it’s so inviting that I have to join in too!
Even if you think you aren’t creative, even if you didn’t like art at school, even if you are too busy, ignore all that and join in with this oil pastel painting activity.
Take inspiration from the way young kids just jump in and have a go, not worrying about if they are ‘good at art’. If you have a child who isn’t all that interested in art, or is reluctant to try something new, or a teen who thinks they are ‘too old’ for art activities, having a go yourself is a great way to entice these kids to join in as well.
This super cool process art activity, is the perfect activity to show your kids that they don’t need to worry about what the finished product looks like. Show them that to make art you simply need to experiment, enjoy process, and see what happens.
I joined in with my kids doing some oil pastel painting and just loved it. Swirling the colours together was so fun!
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How to turn Oil Pastel Drawing into Oil Pastel Painting!
Oil pastels are one our favourite art materials. They are inexpensive, easy to find, the colours are so bright and vibrant, and they glide across the paper in a silky smooth motion. There are so many great ways you can use oil pastels with your kids, and this simple oil pastel painting activity is one of the coolest.
To turn oil pastels into paint all you need is a little oil, and the pastels magical blend and turn into paint. It’s so much fun, you have to give this art activity a try!
Materials you’ll need for Oil Pastel Painting.
- Oil pastels
- Vegetable oil, or baby oil.
- Watercolour paper or other sturdy paper.
- Cotton buds (you might call them q-tips or cotton swabs)
You only need a small amount of oil and can use whatever kind you like for this oil pastel technique. We used olive oil because we happen to live next door to an olive grove and we have plenty on hand, but you could also use an kind of vegetable oil, or baby oil. Some oils will have a stronger scent than others, and some may have a colour to them, but that won’t affect your oil pastel painting.
Please be aware that baby oil and some other oils can post a risk to children if inhaled so please supervise young children while doing this activity.
You will need quite a few cotton buds/q-tips as you’ll want one for each colour of oil pastel, and some for blending.
We used a small glass jar for the oil and found the jar lid was useful for resting the cotton buds while we were not using them.
You can use regular printer/copy paper for this art activity, but the surface of the paper can become a bit oily. The excess oil will soak in over time, but more sturdy paper absorbs more quickly and doesn’t fall apart as easily if you have a little one who likes to use lots of colour and oil and paint vigorously!
What to Do…
Making an oil pastel painting is super easy!
To start simply draw with the oil pastels on the paper.
Once you are happy with your drawing, dip a cotton bud in a little bit of oil, wipe off the drips then rub it over your drawing and watch the oil pastels magically turn to paint!
You can complete an entire drawing and then add the oil, or add oil to parts of your drawing as you go.
You can blend colours together easily, or use a different cotton bud for each colour to keep them separate.
It’s super fun and satisfying to swirl the oily cotton bud around and watch the oil pastels turn into the paint the colours swirl and mmix.
Experiment with what happens when you draw with strong, heavy, layers of oils pastels and then add oil, or when you light application of oil pastels.
It’s a bit like using water colour pencils but the colour is vibrant and bright!
This oil pastel painting activity is easy, not very messy and loads of fun!
More Oil Pastel Painting Ideas
Once you have tried oil pastel painting on it’s own and experimented with how it works and how fun it is, then you might like to try combining it with some other art techniques.
Crayon Resist and Oil Pastel Painting
Oil pastels work great for crayons resist art because they are so waxy and they go on nice and thickly. You can also use the same crayon resist technique with your oil pastel paintings.
Once you have finished your drawing and have turned your oil pastel into paint, paint over the top of it with water colours for a super cool look. You can also use liquid water colours or food dye with water added for a similar effect.
Doodle/Scribble Drawings and Oil Pastel Painting
We love making giant collaborative doodle drawings. It’s a super fun way for kids of all ages to work together on an art project, and it’s also a great technique to combine with oil pastel painting.
Start by doodling all over your page with a permanent marker. You can use a big piece of paper and all work together, or it’s fun to do on a regular sized piece of paper too.
Now fill in all the shapes and spaces made by the doodling with oil pastels, and add some oil to turn that into paint. The colours will blend and glide to fill in all the scribbles, shapes and spaces on the paper.
What other art techniques and activities can you think of that wold be interesting to combine with this oil pastel paint technique?
If you don’t already have some oil pastels at home I highly recommend you pick some up next time you are at the shops, or order some online so you can give this super fun, magical, art activity a go.
And I highly recommend that you join in with your kids and try this art activity yourself… You might find you are more creative than you think, and your kids might too!
This post was first published on August 28, 2012. We’ve done this activity so many times over the years it was time for an update and republish.
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
We love art that transforms like this! We must try it out – pinning now!
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
Love it! Pinned it :)
Janice @ learning4kids says
What a FAB idea!! I love your magic paint and can’t wait to try it out with the kids!
How have I not thought of this before? I have all the stuff for this activity too! Yay, I can feel some creative juices flowing. I may love this activity as much as the kidlets!
What a great idea…love those colours and pinning now!
Bek @ Just For Daisy says
This is fabulous! :) Great to get Miss Daisy to start tracing and using those fine motor skills a little more in her art! :) Thanks for sharing! Pinned it and will let you know how we go!
I will be trying this out tomorrow, it sounds neat!!
Kate - An Everyday Story says
I reckon my little guy would enjoy this. Maybe with a paint brush though. We only ever use our oil pastels as really vibrant crayons. Hehe I’m sure that’s not their intended purpose :D
Ronnie Pearce says
Perfect timing as school holidays are about to start for my oldest
This is one we haven’t tried! I think we’ll add it to our yearly Spring Flower art projects. Thank you Kate for sharing :D
Summer Hatfield says
This seems like a really fun idea! How long does it take for them to dry? And do you just use regular paper? Thanks!
It dries pretty quickly. unless the kids are very heavy handed with the oil. We used regular printer paper which was fine, the oil may soak through in some places but that is not an issues. You could also used watercolour paper which would do a better job of absorbing any stray oil