Students experiment with multiple ways to blend, smudge, layer, scratch and mix colours using oil pastels on white paper. 

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 10


Art Techniques
Visual Arts



Crayola Oil Pastels - 16 Count Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Toothpicks Paper Towels Small Pieces of Sponge - 2 cm x 3 cm (¾" x 1")

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EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step One

Step One

Use all the colours in your oil pastel box in one way or another.
Experiment with ways to apply colour and texture. 

Applying Pressure

  1. Draw with the oil pastel and deliberately change the pressure to get different effects.
  2. Wiggle your wrist as you change the pressure.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Two

Step Two


  1. Choose two or more colours.
  2. Colour a section with the darkest colour.
  3. Colour on top of the first layer with the next lightest colour.
  4. Press hard to mix the colours. 
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Three

Step Three


  1. Use your finger or a small piece of sponge to blend the colours together.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Four

Step Four


  1. Use the tip of the oil pastel.
  2. Draw lightly with a loose, rounded, scribbling motion.
  3. Build up layers to fill the space.
  4. Scumble directly on the paper or lay down a base coat colour first and then scumble over it.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Five

Step Five

Laying Flat Colour

  1. Remove the wrapper from the oil pastel.
  2. Lay the pastel flat on the paper and move it across the surface.
  3. Change the pressure to get different effects. 
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Six

Step Six

Mark Making

  1. Use the tip of the oil pastel.
  2. Explore ways to make different marks.
  3. Try dots, straight, curved, hatched and scribbled marks. 
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Seven

Step Seven


  1. Cut a pattern along the edge of a piece of heavy paper to use as a stencil.
  2. Hold the stencil firmly in place.
  3. Colour over the edge of the stencil onto the paper.
  4. Remove the stencil.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Eight

Step Eight


  1. Draw a series of thin lines beside each other.
  2. Draw a new set of lines on an angle over top of the first set of lines.
  3. Use the same colour for each set of lines or change colours for a different effect. 
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Nine

Step Nine


  1. Draw a series of dots beside each other.
  2. Vary the spaces between the dots to change the intensity of the colour.
  3. Draw different coloured dots among the first set to shift from one colour to the next.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Ten

Step Ten


  1. Place a piece of paper on top of a raised surface.
  2. Move the flat side of an oil pastel across the surface of the paper.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

Sgraffito (Scratching into the oil pastel)

  1. Apply thick layers of oil pastel.
  2. Use a toothpick or other pointed tool to scratch into the layers of oil pastel.
  3. Create a variety of patterns.
EXPLORING OIL PASTEL – White Paper - Step Twelve

Step Twelve

  1. Fill the entire page with colour and texture.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create interesting effects using oil pastels in at least 10 different ways;
  • build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  • explain their process;
  • express opinions about the works; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


​Have students:

  • add to a large sheet of mural paper over a few weeks until they have filled it with interesting and varied oil pastel techniques;
  • pretend their experimental paper has become a giant landscape and they have fallen into it;
  • write a story about what they see and how they travel throughout this new land;
  • create small, cut-out figures of themselves and place them on the landscape.


  1. Place students in groups so they can share the oil pastels.
  2. Spread newspaper on tables for easy clean up.
  3. Provide paper towel and toothpicks for each student/group.
  4. Make a sample.


  1. Explain what oil pastels are:
    drawing tools like a crayon and chalk pastel combined
    - the pigment is mixed with an oil and wax binder that doesn't dry in the air
    - eventually they do harden, but it takes a long time so pictures made with oil pastels always seem a bit oily to touch
    - oil pastels can be used in a lot of different ways.
  2. Ask how many students have used oil pastels before, and what they have made with them. 
  3. If students have experience with oil pastels ask them to demonstrate a technique they have learned.
  4. Explain that today's class is for experimenting with the oil pastels so students will have an idea how to get the most out of them.
    - it's a time to play with ideas and see what happens
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create interesting effects using oil pastels in at least 10 different ways.
  2. Push yourself to generate new ideas.
  3. Fill the entire page with colour and techniques.
  4. Explain your process.
  5. Express opinions about your own and others' works. 
  6. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created interesting effects with oil pastels
    - used oil pastels in 10 different ways
    - filled the page with colour

    - explained what I did
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Have students work in pairs or small groups.
  2. Ask them to:
    - compare the experiments and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects
    - describe feelings the works evoke
    challenges they may have had and how they solved them
    - discuss how doing these experiments might help them if they were creating a picture
     of something
  3. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this project.



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the experiments – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - OilPastels_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - OilPastels_self-assessment.pdf, or OilPastelsPrimary_self-assessment.pdf)