Oompa-Loompas

Oompa Loompa Doodlewash

Just a few months after yours truly entered the world for the first time, these little things burst onto the cinema screen in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was a few years later, of course, before I finally got to see it, but I always thought it was super cool that the main little boy in the movie shared my name. It was the Oompa-Loompas that I remembered most from the movie because of just how bizarre they were. I have no idea why they popped into my head or why I thought to doodlewash one, but that’s where we landed today.

Basically, for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the story, five lucky kids get to enter an elusive and eccentric chocolate-makers factory having procured golden tickets. Each time one misbehaves they are met with some unfortunate fate and the Oompa-Loompas come to remove them from the scene while singing ominous moralizing songs about their misdeeds. They were knee-high, and they were orange, and they were absolutely terrifying. I remember thinking if I didn’t complete my homework they might show up, popping their heads in my window and start singing their insidiously catchy songs.

The movie was based on a book by Roald Dahl who is my all-time favorite author of children’s books. His stories were super dark and didn’t talk down to kids and I loved them for that. His original Oompa-Loompas (called Whipple-Scrumpets before publication) started out as African pygmies until he rewrote them to be white-skinned and blonde. The movie version opted for a more colorful version with orange skin and green hair. In the book there were whole families of Oompa-Loompas with the men wearing skins, women wearing leaves, and children simply running around naked. This was, thankfully, also changed for the movie version.

The movie was creepy, but also one of my favorites as a kid. Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder, was a fascinatingly odd and wonderfully crazy character (as played by Johnny Depp years later he was just a creepy pervert). The original movie contained a song called “Cheer Up Charlie” and this soon became something my family members would repeat to me, much to my dismay, whenever I got grumpy. Slightly better than having the other kids at school constantly say,  “Sorry Charlie” thanks to those darn Starkist Tuna commercials.

But I loved the book much more than the movie. In fact, I preferred books to movies when I was a kid. Still do actually. There’s just something more fun about being able to imagine something for myself rather than having someone else show me what they think it should look like. Now, it’s really hard to get this version of an Oompa-Loompa out of my brain. These orange little guys have been burned into my head since childhood, thanks to that small screen in my living room. Perhaps that’s why Roald Dahl had his Oompa-Loompas making this plea to kids everywhere:

“Oh, books, what books they used to know, Those children living long ago! So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

Roald Dahl, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Permanent Green Pale, Azo Orange, Azo Green, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink and second pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
49 Comments
  1. Catherine Johnson 2 years ago

    Great doodlewash, Charlie! Roald Dahl is legend.

  2. Kari 2 years ago

    What a wonderful doodlewash! I only saw this movie as an adult. I thought this was another movie perhaps made for children but has plenty of thought-provoking themes for adults. My kids loved the Oompa-Loompa song and sang it so many times.. I have to check out the book as I never read it.

    • Author

      Thanks Kari! 💕😃 hehe…yeah the song is like an ear worm that’s hard to extract. lol You should definitely check out the book. I love all of Roald Dahl’s books, but I think my favorite is Matilda.

  3. debiriley 2 years ago

    fantastic~ loved him too! great painting Charlie 🙂 just got back from making up 20+ stories for a 2yr old all about “Oompa and Oomha” so its funny to see this, this morning! love it cheers, Debi

  4. Charlie, you are a gem, nostalgia King! Now I will be singing that song until I go to bed…. At least bed time is soon! Otherwise the dog will get earache. Love it. Did they ever make a film about the magic finger? I loved revolting rhymes….’ She pulled a pistol from her knickers’ and not forgetting her pig skin bag! What a man Mr Dahl was.

    • Author

      Awww thanks, Rebecca! 💕😃Haha! Dahl had quite and intriguing mind didn’t he? Always something unexpected. I think that’s why I always loved his stories. And sorry about the song…haha…it’s impossible to shake. 😊hehe

  5. Susan Feniak 2 years ago

    Okay so now I am singing the song too! Catchy. But why not sing a happy ditty on a dull January day? Perks one up. Thank you Charlie.

    • Author

      Awww good…glad you enjoyed it. I’ve had that song stuck in my head all day now, and though enjoyable at first, I hope it’s gone by morning. 😊lol

  6. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    I loved the imagination that went into that movie! Didn’t one child blow up into a giant gum ball with legs and they had to roll her out? I like your doodlewash Charlie! 💖💕 It brings back wonderful memories! I don’t think I read the book however so might have to do that someday! Thanks for the smile, friend! 😍👍🌈

    • Author

      Thanks Jill! 💕😃lol… It was Violet…she turned into a giant blueberry. Hehe…it was such a sinister story really, but I think that’s why it was so memorable and fun! I definitely recommend the books! 😃👍🏻

  7. anniedrawsthings 2 years ago

    Love this movie! I agree, Gene Wilder was definitely the best Wonka. And yeah, I’ve got the song stuck in my head now. 😛 Nicely done!

    • Author

      Thanks Annie! 💕😃You’re welcome! Haha!! Though I should probably say I’m sorry! That sounds sticks and doesn’t want to leave. 😳hehe

  8. That was one of my very favorite books, too! He was a genius! Amen to your quote, and beautiful, lively work, Charlie!

    • Author

      Thanks Laura!! 💜😃 See? You are my sister!! Hehe… All of Dahl’s books are wonderful. This post made me want to go back and read them again. 😊

  9. Jodi 2 years ago

    Oh how wonderful! Dare I admit I often say “Sorry Charlie” to my charlie! LOL! I sometimes call him “Charles in Charge” too – remember that – oh how I digress! AMAZING OOMPA LOOMPA and a fun nostalgic read. Love Roald Dahl – James and the Giant Peach – a fave. 🙂

    • Author

      Oh wow!! Yep…I also got the “Charles in Charge” treatment as well. But I rather liked that one. 😊😉lol Thanks so much Jodi! Glad you liked this and also like Dahl! 😃❤️

  10. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Another fun memory, if the Gene Wilder version of the movie is on I always watch it. I too like R. Dahl, his books continued to be enjoyed. A very cool oompa-loompas Doodlewash.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Sharon! 💕😃 I remember this movie being on television a lot when I was a kid, but actually it’s been years since I’ve watched it. 😊 I did look at a clip of the Oompa Loompas singing for this post and I’m still humming that damn song. I fear they are going to haunt my dreams tonight. Lol

  11. Owl 2 years ago

    Ah, now I have to re-watch the film! As a Johnny Depp fan, I totally approve of this post!

  12. memadtwo 2 years ago

    Roald Dahl is the best. The BFG…James and the Giant Peach…OK I can’t pick a favorite. Your Oompa Loompa is suitably creepy too. (K)

    • Author

      Haha! I was going for creepy so I’m glad that came through. I have a tendency to make things cute. 😊 thanks Kerfe! Glad you’re a Dahl fan too!

  13. Cathe 2 years ago

    Ah one of my all time favorite books as well. I think this book got me started reading nonstop and I have never looked back. Fun painting…and funny backstory Charlie! Such a great post! I prefer the book to the movie, it all looked much different in my head.

    • Author

      Thanks Cathe! 💕😃Yeah…the book was definitely better. But the first movie at least got a little of Dahl’s writing across. A bit weird and so wonderful!

  14. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Great sketch. I am also a fan of Roald Dahl. I always thought the movie interpretations of the Oompa-Loompas were more than a bit frightening.

    • Author

      They were terrifying. Lol He was hard to sketch since I wanted him to come out a bit creepy like I remembered him. Thanks Kirk!

  15. Jacob 2 years ago

    Charlie! That is absolutely sensational!! So sweetly done. This film is one of my biggest guilty pleasures – I love it so much, mainly because Gene Wilder is hilarious (far superior to Depp), but there are too many moments throughout that make me chuckle. Those Oompa-Loompas and their hypnotic chants used to unsettle me when I was little! But of course now they’re just hilarious too 😉 Ditto that boat scene (they are powerful rowers!) “The danger must be growing for the rowers keep on rowing…!!!”

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob!! Yay! A movie you’ve actually seen!! Lol I knew it would happen. And you’re a fan too! Perfect! Yeah…that boat scene was insane!! So scary!! And awesome!! Haha

  16. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Awesome painting but those creatures creeped me out…LOL! I much prefer Dahl’s books to the movies. He was my older son’s favorite author for a while, too. 😉 <3

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa! 💕😃Yay!! Then I succeeded. Tried to get the creepy factor in there. They are so weird!! Cool that your older son liked him. I’m still a fan and now I think I’m going to go back and read him again! 😊

  17. Tori 2 years ago

    Charlie you’ve made my day with your Oompa Loompa! This was was my favourite childhood film (I think you and I share the same birth year 🙂 ). I have a nephew called Charlie and I’m always singing “Cheer Up Charlie” to him, maybe I need to tone it down a bit!

    • Author

      Yay!! Another fan! So glad to hear that Tori! 💕😃 Hehe…actually Cheer Up Charlie is a rather pretty song. So I say go ahead and keep singing! Lol

  18. jmnowak 2 years ago

    I loved the oompa-loompas — both weird and wonderful! Did their work with such precision and happiness. Wish all employees were like them. Lovely doodle, Charlie!

    • Author

      Thanks Janina!! 💕😃Haha! They did seem liked good employees, but they were also a bit odd if not frightening so I’m not sure if I’d want them around and singing to me all day! Lol

      • jmnowak 2 years ago

        haha…I think they’d only frighten little boys… 😉

  19. I absolutely love this drawing. You nailed it. I loved this movie as a kid as well and I still love it. It’s just so magical. It’s one of those films that just has staying power. I just started writing a serial fan-fiction set in Willy Wonka’s factory. I was checking out images of Oompa Loompas to get inspired and came across yours. I’d love it if you’d check it out and let me know what you think. https://josiahrosenbergerauthor.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/death-by-chocolate-a-willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-retelling-the-boiler-room-part-1/

    • Author

      Thanks so much!! And thanks for dropping by! Glad you liked this doodlewash! Hehe…it was an… Interesting subject to paint! Lol And your story is very cool…poor Augustus!! Pay back is a bitch! 😳

  20. […] story is rather dark, but that’s part of the fun of Dahl’s humor. The Oompa-Loompas were perfectly terrifying in the film with their glowing orange faces while singing their […]

  21. That Other Petra Guy 3 months ago

    Nice!!! I love this!!!

  22. […] of the African jungle where no white man had been before.’ After the release of the first film, which portrayed them as bizarrely orange characters, Dahl was challenged about the political correctness of his original vision. His publishers decided […]

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