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How to Do Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

by The Artful Parent Editorial Team
April 1, 2024
oil pastel painting

Try oil pastel painting for a fun and easy process art activity. Combine the vibrant colors and smooth application of oil pastels with baby oil for a painting effect.

Updated April 2024

Painting with oil pastels and baby oil is an Artful Parent classic. It’s one of our favorite invitations to create because it’s simple to set up, relatively mess-free, and kids love it!

They draw with pastels and then use a bit of baby oil to blend the colors together, creating a cool painted effect. Kids can try blending colors together, making patterns, or even drawing pictures and turning them into ‘paintings.’

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

And here are the step-by-step instructions, plus a few fun variations!

Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

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  1. Draw with the oil pastels on paper

    First, use the oil pastels to draw a picture of whatever you’d like on your paper.

    oil pastel drawing (1)

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

    Next, dip a cotton swab into a little bit of oil and use it to rub all over your drawing. 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

  3. Let dry

    Allow your painting to dry completely, then hang it up!

    oil pastel painting

That’s all there is to it! So simple and yet so fun. And if you’d like to take things a step further, try these fun variations.

oil pastel paintings
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Oil Pastel Painting Variations

  • Try some watercolor resist by painting with watercolors over your finished oil pastel painting.
  • Draw with oil pastels, paint with watercolors, let dry, then do the oil rubbing step.
  • Draw a picture with Sharpie permanent markers first, then add oil pastels to color in some areas, then do the oil rubbing step.

If you have oil pastels in the house, we highly recommend giving this fun technique a try with your kids! (And joining in yourself, of course.)

mom doing oil pastel painting
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

More Painting Ideas for Kids

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How to Do Oil Pastel Painting with Kids How to Do Oil Pastel Painting with Kids

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