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and Students Since 1994


Oil Pastel Drawing Assignments

Submitted by: Sue Galos

Retired art teacher from St. Clair Secondary School, Ontario, Canada

See student work for this assignment

Integration: Government and U.S. History

Pastel Assignment: Appreciating One's Freedom


Freedom (ˈfrē-dəm)

A) Personal liberty, as from slavery, bondage, serfdom.

B) Liberation or deliverance, as from confinement or bondage.

C) The quality or state of being free, especially to enjoy political and civil liberties.


We hear the word "freedom" used a lot in our world lately, especially from the media and politicians. What is real freedom? What does it truly mean to be free? Why do we place such importance on the idea of freedom?



  • In a journal or sketchbook, make a list of all the personal things freedom means to you and include images and symbols that you associate with this personal sort of freedom.

  • Make a second list of the historical times when both individuals and groups of people have lost their freedom.

  • Think of ways in which you, your friends, and family have been affected by the loss of freedom through politics or personal behaviors and how you feel about these (Curfews, detentions, jail, loss of license, etc.). How do you feel about the attacks on 9-11? What impact did it have on the ability to travel in the United States and around the world? Have the wars in the Middle East have any effect on freedom?

  • Make a minimum of two thumbnail sketches of what freedom means to you and in consultation with the teacher. Choose a sketch to enlarge.

  • Write down two different color combinations that you think represent your images and your feelings best.

Once you have selected the image you will work on, reproduce it onto pastel paper an complete the assignment using pastels as the main media. Include at least two of the techniques we studied in class.


Pastel Distorted PortraitsThe Grotesque in Art: A Composition in
Oil Pastels

Five Elements of the Grotesque
1) Mixing of categories
2) Excess/multiplicity
3) Exaggeration
4) Omission
5) Misrepresentation and the uncanny


Think of a personal experience which is normal or ritualistic in your life. Take this experience and turn it into a grotesque scene by adding the elements of the grotesque. You can make your scene as funny, as scary, as beautiful, as ugly, or as weird as you want. Your scene can be surreal, abstract, or realistic. It can be a landscape, still life, or portraiture.


Use your personal experiences and imagination to compose an oil pastel painting. If you get stuck, you may want to look for ideas in other media sources for inspiration. Keep in mind that you must use at least one of the five elements of the grotesque. Feel free to add more.



You are brushing your teeth with an alligator instead of a toothbrush.

You are sitting in a park with 12,000 squirrels running around you.

You are standing in your kitchen and all you can see is your foot because the kitchen has shrunk. Alternative: You've grown to a giant in a kitchen.


Draw two or three thumbnail sketches in your journal or sketchbook before beginning. See the five elements of the grotesque above. At least one must be present in your drawings.



Write a one or two page personal critique outlining:
a) What personal experience you choose to recreate
b) How you changed your subject into the grotesque
c) Any influences you took from other painters or media and why
d) What aspects of your pastel drawing are most successful and what aspects are least successful?



Oil Pastels.

Pastel Paper.

Drawing Pencils.



Modern Art and the Grotesque - Frances Connelly examines how the concept of the "grotesque" has influenced the history, practice, and theory of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The grotesque has been adopted by a succession of artists as a way to push beyond established boundaries; explore alternate modes of experience and expression.


The Grotesque in Art and Literature - While there has been a growing interest in the use of grotesque imagery in art and literature, very little attention has been given to the religious and theological significance of such imagery. This fascinating book redresses that neglect by exploring the religious meaning of the grotesque and its importance as a subject for theological inquiry.

Rubric for the Grotesque Scene in Oil Pastel

Name ________________________________________________    Date ____________________________


4: 100-80%


3: 79-70%

Very Good

2: 69-60%


1: 59-50%



R: -49%


Creation: Uniqueness & self expression

Explored several choices before selecting one; Generated original ideas; Tried unusual combinations or changes on several ideas; Made connections to previous knowledge; Outstanding self-expression and originality.

Tried only a few ideas; Took some ideas from outside sources; Made very good choices; Shows good evidence of originality and self-expression.

Tried one idea; Carried it out adequately with little originality and little self-expression; Took ideas from others.

Completed the assignment but showed no evidence of challenging ideas or originality. Little or no self-expression.

The student did not put effort into the assignment and shows no evidence of creativity or expression.

Technique and planning

Planned carefully; Made extensive sketches; Showed an excellent awareness of the elements and principles of design; Chose color schemes thoughtfully and used space effectively.

Applied line, shape and color schemes; Showed very good awareness of filling space adequately; Very good planning and attention to detail.

Completed the assignment, yet shows a lack of planning the overall composition; Some evidence of color schemes or shapes; A good effort towards neatness and accuracy.

Completed the assignment yet showed little evidence of understanding the elements of design and color; No evidence of planning; Lacks accuracy and neatness.

Did the minimum or did not complete the assignment.

Communication and inquiry

Demonstrates a complete understanding of the grotesque and goes beyond the required task; Illustrates and expresses ideas thoroughly and intelligently.

Demonstrates very good understanding of the grotesque and their own ideas; Very good communication of their knowledge of design.

Completed the assignment with good understanding and communication, yet shows indifference towards the assignment.

Mediocre understanding and expression shown in finished work; Lacks thoughtfulness and self-expression.

Inadequate or incomplete; Shows no evidence of effort, planning, or thought.

Work habits

Worked patiently and stuck to the task; Did not give up and showed exceptional problem-solving skills.

Stuck to the task well, yet got distracted; With a little more effort, the work would have been outstanding.

Stuck to the task, yet lacked stamina and needed encouragement from time to time.

Could not stick to the task and needed a lot of encouragement.

Did not work in class.

Rubric for Pastel Facial Distortion



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