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 oil pastel painting technique, however, is a new one on my radar and it’s the perfect way to introduce kids to blending oil pastels and creating smooth color transitions!
Choosing oil pastels for kids….
Oil pastels rate so high on my “favorites list” because they are brighter than crayons, blend easier, and they make for a mean watercolor resist. Basically, anything crayons can do oil pastels can do better. They’re a little like crayons on steroids.
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. When choosing oil pastels for kids you do NOT need to spend a lot of money. Oil pastels don’t need be artist grade to work well for your child. These Sakura brand pastels are marketed towards kid but I would use them any day! I also really like this brand.
How to blend oil pastels….
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.
The goal of this process is for your child to experiment with color mixing, just as they would with paint, except without paint. Learning how to blend oil pastels is 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 the oil pastel 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 and deposit lots of color on the page. That’s fun.
The magic ingredient for oil pastel painting….
Are you ready? In order to get one waxy color to flow into the next color we’re going to add a bit of baby oil. That’s right; plain old baby oil is where the magic is at. Use a q-tip to add a little baby oil right on top the oil pastel. drawing. The baby oil will liquefy the paint a bit and allow it to spread around nicely.
The oil pastel drawing is suddenly an oil pastel painting and the perfect place to experiment with blending oil pastels..
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.
Blending oil pastels……
Adding oil to pastels allows colors to mix. This is a sweet way to explore color mixing and practice learning how to blend colors to create a smooth transition from one color to the next.
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.