ArtyPants is celebrating the birthday of Canada’s own, the Grandfather of Native Art, Norval Morrisseau also known as Picasso of the North. Unfortunately he is no longer with us today, but his legendary work lives on.

Morrisseau was a self-taught artist of the Ojibwa culture and was raised by his grandfather, who introduced him at a young age to Ojibwa Shamanism and the traditional stories and legends of the Ojibwa people. In the 1960s, Morrisseau began painting images to illustrate these stories and from 1963 to 1966 became the first person to paint ancient myths and legends of the Eastern woodlands. His style became known as the Woodland or Pictographic style, commonly referred to as x-ray art because it featured a “mystic x-ray vision” where animal spirits (sometimes people) were shown with symbolic-patterned interiors, representing the powers held within.

Take a look at his work, you will see a common style of thick black outlines and bright colours being used as well as simple shapes.  There are lots of symbols involved too that are based on Ojibwa culture. Today’s art project we will use oil pastels and coconut oil as our materials to paint in his style.


  • Oil pastels
  • Coconut oil ~ can be olive or other cooking oil
  • Thicker paper ~ we used acrylic paper so that it could take the oil
  • Cotton swabs
  • 2 dishes ~ one for the oil and the other to rest used cotton swabs


I used coconut oil in a more solid state, I thought it would me less messy for my preschooler.  I did heat it up slightly for 15 seconds in the microwave.  You could use any cooking oil, I know my preschooler likes to dip and smell and given the chance to taste too.

Depending on the skill level, an adult can draw out some shapes, or an image like a fish that is influenced by Norval Morrisseau and have the preschooler colour in the shapes with what ever colour they wish.


Take a cotton swab and dip into the oil and start going over the colour, soon you will find it is more like an oil painting.  Blending becomes fun, as you can see here.

The finished pieces came out famously, and more importantly the process was fun even though a little messy, seeing that just touching oil pastels can get a little mucky on the hands.  But mucky hands are the trademark of an artist.  That aside, this is a great project with maximum impact that all children can enjoy especially for an ArtyPants birthday party.  Book yours today.


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