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Oil Pastel Printmaking Art Project

Oil Pastel Art lessons for 3rd- 6th Grade

Oil pastels are one of the art supplies I love using to teach students about blending colors. They also make excellent supplies for printmaking.

If you get a good quality oil pastel, that does not dry too quickly, your students can be in awe when they transfer the pastel to another page. This art lesson is based on just that — printmaking and color choice.

Images To Use

For this post I will be using the Indigenous prints my students completed but you can do this with any images that have a mix of bold black areas and thinner lines as are in these examples. 

One year I did this and my students loved it so much they wanted to make a print for Father’s Day. They found images that their dad would like and I printed the image for them to do. We framed them with Dollar store frames and sent them home. 

Really the Possibilites are endless

I cannot share with you these images because of copyright. However, you can get images from a quick Google search that you can use for personal projects.

Time Needed to COmplete the Printmaking Art

We usually end up working on this for 2-3, 45 minute art periods. I tell my students I would rather they take their time and do a good job than to rush it. 

Few Art Supplies Needed

I’m not exaggerating when I say you need only a few supplies to complete these prints. Here is what you need:

  • oil pastels (I prefer 1 box/student but they can share if need be)
  • 1 blank 8.5×11 piece of paper per student (I use regular blank paper. Nothing fancy)
  • pencil (not too sharp but not too dull)
  • print out of the designs you are wanting to use
  • stapler and staples
  • colored paper, card stock, or construction paper for background frame

Step By Step Instructions

1.) Print off the images you want your students to use. Make sure the image does not go all the way to the edge of a 8.5×11 piece of paper.

2.) Have students pick their image and then turn the paper over and draw a ring around the outside of the shape. Explain to students that they are to only put oil pastels inside that ring. This stops oil pastel from unnecessarily transferring to the other paper when they are working.

3.) Students will now put a thick layer of oil pastel on the back of their image. Have them continue to add color inside the ringed shape until NO WHITE is showing. If there is white, it will not transfer when doing the printmaking.

4.) Once students have completed their color blocking, staple a clear white piece of paper to the back of their image page. I staple very cloasely to the edge and I do all 4 corners. This will keep the image in place as they are working.

5.) Now it is time for the print transfer. Students should use a pencil that is not to sharp (it may poke a hole in paper) but also not too dull. They will begin in one area and pressing firmly, color over the image with their pencil. I tell them to do small sections at a time and to make sure they color ever EVERY part of the black part of their image. We talk about outlining the section they are coloring so the print on the other paper has crisp edge lined.

You can see in the next 2 pictures the difference between crisp outlines and “scratchy” o

6.) Once all sections of the black image is compleye (watch for those small detail sections. They are easy to miss) carefully remove the staples and take off the black image paper. I then have students create a color block of pastel on that paper and place it on the printmaking page to write their name.

7.) Students then pick a colored piece of paper to create a frame. I have them glue their image in the middle of the colored paper and then I trim with a paper cutter, if needed.

More Student Art Examples

Creating the Bulletin Board Display

When I make the bulletin board display, I add signs that tell about each animal. We go over these begore students choose their image. If you are using different imaged for the printmaking art, you can skip adding these signs.

Other Ideas:

If you feel your students need some practice with the oil pastel printmaking art before they start a bigger project like this one, have them practice with their initials. I print off their initials using different fonts. They get so excited to see their initials in fancy colors.

Students can write a story or poem about their image and this can be added to the bulletin board.

Sharing Your Students’ Art Projects

I would love to see how your students did and celebrate their art work. Share on social media and tag me (@terristeachingtreasures) so I can comment on your students’ masterpieces.

If you want to save this for later, here is a picture for Pinterest.


If you are looking for some Indigenous picture books that can be used along side this art project, check out this list.

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  1. These are so cool! I'm definitely doing this with my class – perhaps an autumn or halloween theme. Thank you!

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