If you’ve got a short list of art supplies oil to keep available for your kiddos oil pastels should make the cut. They’re cheap, crazy vibrant, and can be used in dozens of ways! This technique, however, is a new one on my radar.
Oil pastels rate so high because they are brighter than crayons, blend easier, and because of that “non drying” thing a little messier. Coloring with oil pastels can be a little like painting. As colors build up and layer they begin to mix together, much like paint in a mixing tray. Here we’re going to add one more little ingredient to really bring the paint magic to this project.
Choosing oil pastels….
Oil pastels are basically little sticks of pigment with a binder that consists of non dry wax or mineral oil. I’ve successfully tried many brands. They don’t have to be artist grade to work well for your child. These Sakura brand pastels are marketed towards kid but I would use them any day!
Experimenting with the colors…..
The goal of this process is for your child to experiment with color mixing, just as they would with paint, except without paint. It’s just one more tool in their artist toolbox to use to express themselves and to have fun with making.
I would suggest starting with simple shapes, an abstract design, or a very basic still life. Draw shapes full of color and let these shapes overlap. It’s okay if colors begin to blend together. It is even okay if bright colors mix with other bright colors and make muddy colors. We’re just playing here but this technique could be applied in so many different instances.
Encourage your kiddo to fill the page and even (gasp) go off the edges. Because these pastels are so soft kids can use big, quick movements to make marks. That’s fun.
The magic ingredient….
Are you ready? In order to get that non drying waxy pigment to flow in to the next one we’re gonna add a bit of baby oil. That’s right; baby oil is where the magic is at. We used a q-tip to add a little baby oil right on top the oil pastel. The oil liquefies the paint a bit and spreads it around, just like paint.
The baby oil does make the paper a little, well, oily. (Obvious, right?) But by later that day the oil had absorbed or evaporated or some other semi scientific process. Either way, it was not an oily mess as one might predict.
Mix it up……
When your kiddo is done mixing add an extra layer of magic with a watercolor wash. Because of the high wax content of the pastel crayons they “resist” watercolor. You can just paint over all your amazing mixed up colors and the watercolors fill in the nooks and crannies.
The other thing I love about doing this watercolor wash is it teaches kids to address their entire working space when creating artwork. The background or the negative adds to a composition too.