How to use Water Soluble Oil Pastels creating backgrounds

Oil pastel crayons are messy to use and don’t get out of their box very often. But the genius water soluble oil pastels should get out and dance over paper more often. The Water Soluble Oil Pastels are great crayons if you ask me.

Water soluble crayons

Personally I love how fun and easy it is to doodle with them, their bold color and how they mix with water to create great art or backgrounds for art such as collages, drawings or paintings! Here is a quick and easy inspirational tut that might get you dancing too?!

Water soluble crayons

Just randomly doodle the colors around on your watercolor paper. Leave some white space between the colors if you want to keep the colors clear once you add water.

My cuppa paint
Pour yourself a cup of water, get a paintbrush and dip it in. Time to swirl a bit.

Water soluble crayons
Fill your brush with lots of water and doodle around in the thick pastel crayon color. It will dissolve and spread like watercolors, mixing together beautifully! Rinse before getting to the next color so that you won’t mix the hues too much.

Water soluble crayons
When the water dried I choose to painted a thin layer of acrylic medium (or transparent gesso) on top of the page so that it won’t smudge later. This is something that is suposed to be added to your acrylic paint so they will be more ample! It can also be used as a varnish or a glue. I don’t think you have to do this if you’re working in book form. I however will use this page as Daily Art Cards and cut it down to 10×10 squares. These cards get handled (scanned, stored in piles etc) a lot so I want to protect them a bit. Painting a coat of acrylic medium (gel medium) will also make it possible to draw or write on top of the oil pastels.

Here are a few close-up photos:

Background play
Yummy right?

water soluble crayons

Crayon doodles

Oh, and five of the four cards have already been transformed to daily art cards and they look like this (click to comment and view a bit bigger at flickr!):

080924 080926 080927

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35 Responses to How to use Water Soluble Oil Pastels creating backgrounds

  1. Cathy says:

    Delicious colours Hanna. I love pink too and I am not surprised your pink crayon is so worn down. Did you know that some prisons paint the walls pink? Apparently it is such a loving, harmonious colour that they hope it will quell agression and anger. Who could get angry and shout when they are in a pink room…ha ha?

  2. Kimbo says:

    Hi Hanna !

    I have a box of these water soluable oil pastels. Like you, I absolutely love the vibrant colors and how wonderfully they blend. The only problem I have is that I have had trouble writing on them once they have dried, which I like to do in my journal sometimes. Have you faced this ? Did you find a writing tool that works ? I saw that you stamped on one of your cards. Maybe I could use ink and stamps instead of trying to write ?
    I would love to hear any advice or experience you have about this !
    Those daily cards are so gorgeous and inspirational, by the way !

  3. Christy says:

    Magnificent! I’m just breathing in the energy of these lively, energetic colours!

  4. iHanna says:

    I didn’t know that prisoners did paint pink but I totally understand why! :-)

    Oil pastels are resistant to most all pens and do destroy them if you try (clog them up). Try to varnish your page as described in this post (!) or blend all the oil out with water before writing. I think that should work! Stamping also is good idea.

    Thank you my friend – next one will be all about orange! ;-)

  5. kelly says:

    Lovely backgrounds – I especially like the random factor of creating them big and then cutting them into pieces for other work.

    For Kim – I have found in the past that if you cover them with gel medium then you can write on them with several pens. I tend to use the thin sharpies, pitt pens and white gel pens. It usually works fine.

  6. Bad Faery says:

    gorgeous, gorgeous colours!

  7. Rachel says:

    Oh how pretty! Fun too. I love any excuse to get out crayons. I’ll be linking to this!

  8. trish says:

    I must get me some of those someday soon:)

  9. What a great tutorial. I love using these. In fact I’d love it if Portfolio came out with a bigger box.


  10. Audrey says:

    Thank you for your tutorial!
    Can I use this tutorial for a Dutch blog called,

  11. Dawn says:

    I love Portfolios! I always seem to forget I have them, though, so thanks for the tutorial and reminder to use them! I need to go play!

    And thanks for the great entry in my Moly for Moly X 28…It looks wonderful… :)

  12. Dawn says:

    I love Portfolios! I always seem to forget I have them, though, so thanks for the tutorial and reminder to use them! I need to go play!

    And thanks for the great entry in my Moly for Moly X 28…It looks wonderful… :)

  13. Casapinka says:

    Beautiful!!! Love all these colors, they make me feel so happy.

  14. nina says:

    Tack f?r tipset om gelmedium ovanp?, jag tr?ttnade kvickt p? mina vattenl?sliga kritor eftersom det inte gick att teckna ovanp? dem. Nu kan jag f?rs?ka igen! Rolit! :)

  15. Dawn says:

    I just stumbled across this post…
    Very cute! I have never used water soluble pastels (only the regular pastels, which I don’t like much) but I will definitely have to try it.

  16. M. Pence says:

    Those are absolutely gorgeous and bright colors, very vivid and what a great idea for a background!

  17. Zura says:


    Love this post! I just got my first water soluble oil pastels and I love them! Thanks for the idea of doing doodles and then the water. Can’t wait to try it this way!

  18. amy says:

    I’m going to my closet and digging out my set right now! Thanks for reminding me :).

  19. Hannah says:

    Would work with Canvas? Or would the water not soak and spread like on the paper?! I would love to make some on canvas if it would work!

  20. debzee says:

    love this idea tak su mikett

  21. julia says:

    I went straight to my art shop and bought some crayons =)
    I love to draw with them

  22. mariyam says:

    i love the creativity in you…because it inspires me

  23. iHanna says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment in my blog! I’m so glad I inspired you, creativity is important everywhere. :-)

  24. mariyam says:



  25. iHanna says:

    Mariyam, I think SuziBlu is a great teacher if you want to learn how to paint at a lovely dream. If you want to learn how to do some layers and art journaling I’d take Julie Prichards online classes Layer Love!

    Any good editiong softwere will add text to scanned images, like photoshop or free Gimp. Good luck!

  26. Becky says:

    Fantastic! I’ve been trawling the internet trying to answer 3 questions and here are all the answers in one blog post! I am inspired and off to dig out my wsop. Thank you :)

  27. katie says:

    where can i buy these oil pastels? i haven’t been able to find them

  28. kelly says:

    Be careful about using anything oil based. Anything with oil in it should have a base coat of gesso/dried acrylic before working on it so it won’t eat through the paper over time.

  29. Mary Waspe says:

    I have these paints and never used them as I had no idea how to… Now I am keen to give them another chance, thanks so much for the inspiration.

  30. Sandra L. says:

    I just found this post. I love Portfolios! In a class, I learned that using Golden’s Polymer Varnish with UVLS (matte) will keep them from smudging and allow you to write over them with a pen.

    I also like Caran d’Ache Neocolor II. However, don’t use the Golden product with them–it’ll eat the color away from the page. Learned that the hard way. :(

    I LOVE your site and your work, by the way!

  31. Carol says:

    Can you use acrylics over the water soluble oil crayons?

    • iHanna says:

      Carol, you could, but since the paint is rather wet it would probably mix with the crayon colour and make a (pretty) mess… Try it out and see how it works out, no harm in trying.

  32. MK says:

    I am so happy that I stumbled across your page! I have a studio FULL of art supplies that I have gathered over 20 years’ time. Whenever I meander through a real honest-to-goodness art supply store I am reminded of when I was a child, how my grandfather would take me out and help me pick out these wonderful sketch pencils ( he was an amazing artist!) and pads of paper. I love the way the art stores smell! I had picked up some water soluble crayons at some point but didn’t realize they were what they were. Thanks to you and your site here, I am getting ready to break them out and make my grandfather proud! I am working on my BA in photography and art and I am hoping to discover new ways to use all of these mediums together! Thanks again!

  33. Hanna,

    Love the post on watercolours which demonstrates what a wonderful medium they are to use. I converted to the pencils some years back and predominantly use them in all my work now. Some samples at my blog.

    Keep up the great work, Stephan.

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Ooh, that’s lovely – I’ll try it out tomorrow.

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