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How To Use Oil Pastels With Water?

how to use oil pastels with water

An oil pastel is a drawing and painting medium in the form of a stick. Its formula is basically pigment mixed with a binder combination of oil and wax that is non-drying.

This type of pastel differs from other pastels made with either a gum or methylcellulose binder and in contrast to wax crayons formulated without oil.

Apart from using oil pastels as a dry supply, many artists enjoy mixing the medium with different substances to produce diverse art effects. The most popular method among users of all levels is to use oil pastels with water.

Are Oil Pastels Water Soluble?

Yes, they are. This medium is one of the easiest supplies that can collaborate with plain water to add to your artwork. However, not all of them are true water soluble oil pastels so my advice is to review the product description carefully before purchasing a box of oil pastels.

In addition, you should better prepare yourself to expect that mixing this type of pastels with water can be a little messy. This is because the special formula of an oil pastel itself is already not entirely dried up and smudgeable.

Do Oil Pastels Need Water?


While a lot of people are fond of combining oil pastels with water for their work of art, others question the need to mix them together.

In my opinion, oil pastels spread really well on dry medium. Because this type of pastel is never completely dry, their creamy texture glides well on most surfaces thanks to the great softness level.

Although dry oil pastels deliver attractive color layers after mixing available shades, I would still recommend you to try using them with water for better artistic effects and techniques than these sticks alone.

How to Use Oil Pastels With Water?

Choose a particular color, then break down this oil pastel stick into smaller pieces and add a few drops of water. I suggest you proceed with this mixture inside a bowl, cup, palette, or small container to ensure no leakage.

Use a brush, a paint knife, or simply the head of a cotton swab to apply this new substance to your desired surface. If the application seems heavier than expected, you can smooth it out with a wash or light blending.

This wet blending technique is effective to either lighten the original shade or create a watercolor resemblance. Many people use the water soluble medium and plain water to produce a wide range of opaque and transparent effects.

What Are The Best Surfaces for Wet Oil Pastels?

The common oil pastel formula is meant to work well on a variety of surfaces such as plastic, paper, wood, glass, board, metal, canvas, literally anything you can think of drawing on.

Even a tough surface that not many art mediums can be used on like rock is still suitable for you to apply oil pastels on.

The best news is that oil pastels with inert wax and oil will not damage a regular paper surface such as oil sticks (often include linseed oil).

Based on my experience, certain surfaces will receive better preservation or more tooth with an extra gesso coat. However, you can be confident to work with oil pastels on diverse types of surfaces.


It is not obligatory to use oil pastels with water all the time for diverse art effects on different surfaces, but this is certainly a worthy method to try out at least once.

I hope you have understood how you can take full advantage of wet oil pastels and the easiest process to mix them with water through this article. Thank you for reading.

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