Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Drawing

Oil Pastel Scratch Pads

Sara Ottomano

Thanks to the generous support of the Highland Street Foundation, we have looked forward to participating in Free Fun Friday for the past five years. This year, we had over 1400 guests visit! With the high volume of visitors and excitement on a busy day, we wanted to facilitate a project that was special and yet manageable, and after a lot of experimentation and testing, we decided that oil pastel scratch pads would provide a great balance of both. With our team’s invaluable help, we were able to provide ready-made scratch pads as well as all the tools and materials for them to make their own custom designs.

For the project, we had out baskets of crayons, oil pastels, tools to scratch through the oil pastel layer such as chopsticks and combs, as well as cardstock paper.

To make the scratch pads, our team covered papers in a layer of crayon. The more colorful the crayon layer, the more excitement as new colors could be revealed during scratching.

A layer of black oil pastel was then applied over top of the crayon layer to cover up the colors. (While you could layer any color oil pastel on top, we chose to cover our pre-made ones with black to create a high-contrast when scratched.)

After making the two layers, the pad was ready to be scratched, revealing the colors underneath.

If someone wanted to re-do their drawing or erase, they could simply draw over their scratches with a black oil pastel and start again. On the day, our guests had a wonderful time of creating their own scratch pads using a variety of different colored oil pastels on the top layer.

Some enjoyed writing words alongside images.

Some guests enjoyed drawing pictures or taking their lines for a walk across the page.

Other guests particularly enjoyed trying out the variety of unusual tools to scratch and show the bright color layers underneath, exploring textures and patterns.

Thank you to all who participated on the day and we hope you are inspired to create your own scratch pads in your learning environments!


Sara smiling in front of Art Studio display.

Sara Ottomano

Art Educator from 2016-2023 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Sara (she/her) is enthusiastic about helping others approach art through exploration and experimentation.