Pastel as a medium for creating art has been used by artists for many years because of its ability to produce vibrant colors and its portability. Aside from that, it can be used with ease and creates a very distinct output due to the medium’s nature.

Pastels come in the form of a stick, consists of a binder and a pure powdered pigment. The pigments that can be found in pastels are the same as the ones that can be found in all colored art media even oil paints; the binder is of hue saturation.

Tips on dealing with pastels:

When transporting, soft pastel sticks tend to become dusty or dirty, so it would be a good idea if you carry a cloth to wipe them off before you proceed to draw. Working on a toned surface instead of pure white might make it generally easier for you to work on. You can purchase toned paper, or you can tone it on your own using a watercolor or an acrylic wash. To avoid and prevent blends and smudges when using pastels as your medium, you can use a fixative on that area; however, you should be careful in using the fixative for it can make the vibrancy dull and dark.

To help you choose the best pastels from a huge variety, here are some tips:

All Pastels Are Not Equal

Not every pastel is the same with every other pastel. Soft pastels are easy to blend for they have a buttery feel as its texture. Hard pastels and pastel pencils, on the other hand, are great for adding detail. Oil pastels have a binder, which makes it less opaque if compared to soft pastels, and they don’t easily get smudged. The latest water-soluble pastes provide semi-transparent washes whenever water is being brushed over them.

Smudging and Layering

Instead of a medium that is usually blended on a palette, pastels are blended on the art surface. A lot of colors can be created by layering and smudging the pastel. Blending is usually done by crosshatching, or through pointillism. It can also be done by smudging different tools such as cotton or brushes.

Choose Your Surface

Ideally, when you’re using pastels, you should select an art surface that has tooth or texture. If it is too smooth, the pastels won’t stick to the surface. Also, you should also see if the paper or material is pH-neutral. If it is not acid-free, it changes the color and causes brittleness. One of the best picks is watercolor paper, canvas, pastel paper and sand board.

Pastel Pencils and Oil Pastels

Pastel pencils come in a “lead” form to provide its user with ease of control. Ideally, pastel pencils are used to create fine details and rendering. Oil pastels, on the other hand, have an oil binder which provides it a thick color, but it doesn’t smudge and blend like soft and hard pastels.

Water Soluble Pastel

Water-soluble pastels can be utilized like a normal soft pastel, except that you also have the choice to create watercolor-like effects using a brush and water. Water-soluble pastels can provide you a great variety of artistic effect.