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First Grade “Oiled” Oil Pastel Pumpkins

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While perusing Pinterest, I discovered a Modigliani project that painted oil over oil pastels. Intrigued, I adapted the process and had my first grade art students smear cheap vegetable oil over oil pastel pumpkins. I love the textured, translucent, “antiqued” results.


  • white drawing paper — I used 76 lb. Tru-Ray paper
  • pencils
  • shades of orange, yellow, and green oil pastels
  • black oil pastels
  • vegetable oil
  • non-porous bowls
  • paper towels
  • brown grocery bags


1. View and discuss pictures of pumpkins with obvious oval segmentation.

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2. Draw the pumpkin’s large oval center, then expand it to three sections by attaching a “C” to the oval’s left, and a “D belly” to its right. Add the stem.
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3. Starting at the base of the stem, add another “C” and “D belly” to the left and right. If desired, add additional segments.












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4. Using the side of a yellow oil pastel, cover the entire paper with yellow.

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5. Put a dark orange color fence inside each segment, without touching the pencil lines. This preserves paper space for black lines.












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6. Directionally color the outer two sections as well as top and base of the pumpkin dark orange.

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7. Overlapping the dark orange and working toward the middle, add a lighter shade of orange at the top and bottom. Once again overlapping, add yellow in the middle.












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8. Color the stem two or more shades of green, with the outside portion being lighter. Add grass and vines.

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9. Outline each pumpkin section and the stem in black.











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10. Place the paper on a surface from which oil can be easily removed, and dip the tip of a crumpled paper towel into a bowl with oil. Gently rub (“like petting a kitten”) the oil up and down the paper until the whole surface is covered.

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11. Dip the paper towel several times throughout the process to keep it “well oiled.”














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First Grade Pumpkins

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I did this project with two classes (almost 50) first grade students. I placed each oiled project between several layers of paper towels to absorb excess oil. However, some of the very oily projects ended up with faint dots from the paper towel’s patterned texture. (I actually liked the design on a couple backgrounds, and may “play” with creating a “pressed” texture in this technique.) Next year, I plan on trying grocery bags to absorb extra oil.


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