How to Create Oil Spill Illustrations

Written by nicole schmoll
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Create Oil Spill Illustrations
Use art to help people learn about oil spills. ( Images)

As a fossil fuel, oil is a non-renewable energy source. Located deep beneath the earth's surface and the ocean floor, energy companies drill for and extract oil on land and at sea. Extraction and transportation of crude oil is a dangerous and challenging job. Sometimes accidents, or spills, occur. When they do, they can cause harm to human, animal and plant life. One of the best ways to illustrate the impact of an oil spill is with a painting showing the devastation it causes to birds, fish and water-dwelling plant life.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Canvas and oil paints
  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Examine pictures of oil spills. Look at the way the oil mixes with the water into circular shaped patterns that spread outward from the spill site. Observe how the oil appears as shades of iridescent brown and green on top of the ocean or lake water it is spilt into. Examine photos of ducks, birds, otters and reeds soaked in crude oil from past oil spills like the BP Deepwater Horizon spill of the coast of Louisiana or the Exxon Valdez spill in the Gulf of Alaska.

  2. 2

    Mix 2 tbsp of vegetable oil into a bowl of water and observe how the oil spreads throughout the water and beads up on the surface. Create a watercolour or oil painting that recreates the effect you observe in front of you and in photos of oil spills.

  3. 3

    Paint an ocean scene with oil or watercolour paints. Create a burnt sienna tone on your paint palette and paint red strips and blotches on top of the water to represent oil. Alternatively, mix these same colours into a wet watercolour of a beach or ocean waves so that the strips blend into the water, but appear to sit on top of it.

  4. 4

    Create a series of oil or watercolour paintings that depict birds coated in thick, red, tar-like crude oil to show the devastating effects of oil spills on the marine life.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.