A Serious Game 10.5"x8" pastel on sanded paper
Pastel paintings can have amazing color, because pastel sticks have more pigment than oil, acrylic, or watercolor paints. They can be very bold, or soft with minimal texture. There’s a lot to love with pastels. What are pastels? When you open a box of pastels, they look a lot like pieces of chalk. They are powdered pigment with a minimal binder to make them into sticks. There are different kinds, some softer and some harder. But don’t confuse them with oil pastels, which are something different.
10 Minute Apples Exercise #4 2"X2" pastel on sanded paper
Pastel paintings are closer to colored pencil artwork than they are to the mediums mentioned above, because the color is not applied with a brush or knife, but comes from a stick of pastel, and is applied by holding the stick in your fingers. Pastels are almost always done on paper, often one that has a fine layer of sand, which grabs the pastel better than a smooth paper. There are no brushes, or palette knives, though an underpainting could be created with watercolor or pastel and alcohol applied with a brush.
Sunshine on the Marsh 9"x12" pastel on sanded paper
Pastels are the most delicate of the mediums I’m covering in these blog posts. They aren’t as light sensitive as watercolors, but you have be careful not to loose particles of pastel after they are framed. So we lay them flat, pastel side up, and don’t ever turn them over in the frame. Usually there is a mat or a spacer in the frame to keep the pastel surface off the glass. And glass is required, or any touch to the painting could remove some of the artwork!
My Schmincke soft pastels
Mixing paint to create a specific color and value is not as much of a thing with pastels as with other mediums. Most pastel painters have boxes of pastels, in varying colors, and in varying shades, dark to light of each color that they like to use. This can get expensive, and though each pastel is pretty light, they can be bulky to carry around.
Harraseeket Road pastel over watercolor
Some of my favorite pastel painters are Tony Allain, Deborah Quinn Munson, Joelle Feldman and Suzanne deLesseps. Joelle and Tony both teach, so check their links if you’d like to study pastels.
9/27/2021 06:28:56 am
I love pastel paintings. When I lived at the coast an artist friend there made me a set of pastels representing the marsh that lined our properties. They're prominently displayed in my bedroom when I see them I'm instantly transported back to Eastern North Carolina.
9/28/2021 02:53:04 pm
I know very little about pastels, so this was a great read for me. Thanks for this informative blog post. Are you going to be teaching pastel painting?
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Bobbi - Painter. Sketcher. Teacher. Boat and Dog Lover.