How To Use Oil Pastels With Water

If you think that oil and water do not usually mix…

… then you are right!

However, there are some oil pastels dissolve that with water! These terrific groups of oil pastels are the water-soluble kind.

Below, I will explore the different ways you can use water-soluble oil pastels with water to make art.


There’s a beauty in seeing a smooth gradation of colors in a finished piece. Everything looks right when an art piece is blended well.

No one wants a mixture of harsh tones and unblended colors in their drawing. It’s going to be a messy disaster, especially for realism art.

You can’t escape blending even when you’re using oil pastels.

  • To blend oil pastels, you can use your finger, a blending stump, or even plain tissue paper. However, aside from the previous mentions, you can also use water as a blending agent for oil pastels.
  • Remember, using water to blend oil pastels will work for water-soluble oil pastels only and not any other oil pastels. If you get the regular oil pastels and blend them with water, nothing’s going to happen. All you will do is wet your paper, so keep that in mind.

How to blend with water:

  • Shade in two different colors side by side with oil pastels. Oil pastels are rich in pigment so to make the colors pop, be generous while shading.
  • Next, get a paintbrush and dampen it with water.
  • Use your dampened paintbrush to blend the two shaded colors.

Don’t just stick to a paintbrush. You can blend these oil pastels with anything that can get wet like your wet fingertips, damp Q-tips or damp paper towels, and so on. Aside from blending colors, you can form new colors by mixing.


Oil pastels are like crayons but with more oiliness and gumminess. And quite similar to crayons, oil pastel makes colored pictures with the traditional drawing and shading techniques.

But did you know that you could use oil pastels to paint?

Let’s keep aside acrylic paint, watercolor, and other wet media and see how oil pastels do a paint job.

  • Grab your oil pastels and go hard as you rub them on a hard surface. Don’t go too hard that you end up finishing the pastel but enough to have reasonable pigment. You can do this according to color.
  • Soak your paintbrush with water and begin mixing it with the pigment like you would do with watercolor.
  • Apply that paintbrush on paper and you get to paint! It works the same way as a watercolor but is slightly thicker.
  • With the oil pastel paint, you can create paintings as you would do with other wet media. Simple as ABC.

Here’s another cool trick; painting with two different colors simultaneously. It’s the same process but with itty bitty changes.

  • Make a simple color gradation of two or three colors with the oil pastels on a palette or any hard surface.
  • Get a damp paintbrush and with one side of the brush, collect the pigment. Don’t go blending the colors. Swipe your brush over it to maintain the gradation.
  • Then apply the brush to the paper. You’ll have a brush stroke still with the same color gradation. You can do this with a damp sponge.

Stenciling and Stamping

Using stencils and stamps are easy ways to put up shapes and patterns. There is no need for much planning on how it will look, just do a simple print or stamp and you’re done.

Amazingly, water-soluble oil pastels can work with stencils and stamps, and here’s how you can use a stencil;

  • Get a stencil or make paper-cut stencils.
  • Color the uncut part of the stencil with the oil pastel.
  • With a damp sponge or towel, dissolve the pastel’s pigment into the cut part of the stencil.

For the stamps, our primary tool will be a stamp block.

  • Color the stamp block with the oil pastel.
  • With a damp sponge or towel, wet the colored surface of the stamp block.
  • Stamp on the paper. Easy peasy.


Imagine creating a picture with only 4 colors!

It is not an impossible task, people have done this, but that doesn’t change the fact that it can be brain-tasking.

You have to find how to combine those colors and figure out how to make them lighter or darker for contrast. Basically, you have to rack your brain to make the picture work.

Most oil pastel sets have a limited number of colors. You won’t get 4 colors from a color set but around 12 or 24 colors.

That is a decent number of oil pastels but still not enough. There is still going to be a lot of color mixing, darkening, and lightning in the picture-making process.

Here is where water comes in. You can make lighter shades of a color by diluting it or mixing it with water. The same principle works with using watercolors. Lighter shades bring in more contrast and make your artwork look more realistic.

As I stated before and will state again, this is for water-soluble oil pastels only and not just any oil pastels.


Variety is the spice of life and we can see that in art. You can use water-soluble oil pastels with various art mediums like watercolors, charcoal, soft pastels, pencil, acrylic paint, oil paint, and the list goes on and on.

In the video below, Youtube artist Erin Duncan makes a portrait with water-soluble oil pastels and Prismacolour pencils. This is just one example, there are tons of creative ways to combine water-soluble pastels with other art tools.

Water-Soluble Oil Pastel Brand

Want to know which oil pastels are water-soluble, or where you can get these water-soluble oil pastels?

You should be able to get these water-soluble oil pastels from a nearby art store or you can of course order them straight from Amazon (by clicking the link).

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. At no cost to you, I may receive a commission if you buy through a link on this page.

No Water-Soluble Oil Pastels? No problem

Water-soluble or not, Oil pastels are still terrific. They are versatile art mediums and can be used for sketching, painting, coloring, and drawing a fully drawn portrait.

They are also cheap. Yes, there are the expensive ones but most oil pastels are affordable.

Sometimes oil pastels are mistaken for crayons since they both have a similar look but they are different. Oil pastels are creamier and give smoother colors.

If you’ve never used oil pastels before, you can give them a try. There are many more art supplies like the oil pastels to discover and try out in my article on drawing art supplies and tools.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge