#PEMfromhome \\ Drop-In Art Activities

Breath pastel circles

Breath is a universal language of sanctity and necessity. Breath can be a tool for transformation and awakening. All living things need and use breath in one form or another. In artist Zarah Hussain’s exhibition titled Breath, she explores the experience and reflection of this act. In this activity, we will work with oil pastels to create a visualization of our own breath.

  • Paper
  • Oil pastel
  • Pencil
  • Ruler


Step 1: Take a minute or two, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Notice how it feels when air passes in and out of your lungs. Now, visualize this breath, what colors would it be if you could see it? How many layers would your inhale and exhale have?

Step 2: Using a ruler measure your paper to find the center point. Place your ruler vertically along the side of your paper to find the vertical center point. Put a small pencil mark at that center point. Then, place the ruler horizontally across your paper to find the horizontal center point. Put a small pencil mark at that center point. Do this again on both sides of your paper, and on the top and bottom. Now, with a lightly drawn pencil line, connect the vertical pencil marks and then connect the horizontal pencil marks.

Step 3: Draw a circle as big or small as you’d like. Find a circular object in your home to trace, like the top edge of plates or bowls. Place the object on your paper and make sure it’s in the middle of the excess vertical and horizontal lines that stick out. Use a pencil to trace your circular object.

Step 4: Using your oil pastels, create breath layers by color, starting from the center point out. You can use your ruler and pencil to measure out exactly how big you want each layer. Think back to your focused breathing. What colors came to mind? Were your layers blended together? Tip: Remember your color wheel and think about complementary colors (warm tones like red and yellow blend well together.) Relax and have fun creating your breath circles!

Explore more of our #PEMfromHome Drop-in Art Activity video tutorials on our youtube channel.

Show Us!

We want to see your breath circles. Share your photos online using #peabodyessex.