How to Draw - Pastals
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Drawing with pastels goes back to the 16th century and was used by many famous masters including Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler and Degas to name but a very few.
There are several qualities and brands and it is a widely respected art form in its own right.
Pastel sticks and pencils can produce intense, vivid colors not always possible with other media. Or they can be used for soft dream-like works by subtle blending and overlaying of related shades. As drawing instruments they need no drying time and can be used equally effectively for loose, impressionist work or very detailed compositions.
Basically, there are three types you need to be aware of initially...
1. Soft and hard pastels - the most common.
2. Pastel pencils - similar to hard pastels.
3. Oil pastels - the same pigments but bound in waxes and oils.
I've grouped the soft & hard variety together because they're more or less the same formula. It's just that some brands are manufactured to a slightly harder consistency than others which produces slightly different properties.
They can all be used on a wide variety of surfaces, from specialist Ingres textured paper to rough sandpaper. And there's a variety of accessories available to enhance your creative possibilities...
Have a look at the individual articles below to learn more about what you can achieve with this very popular and adaptable medium.
Pastel Pencil HorseIf you want to see how to draw a pastel pencil horse then here's just the thing to watch - it's a wonderful example by artist Mary Herbert....
Pastel TypesThis short video by Christine MacLellan gives the would-be pastel painter a quick insight into the various types of pastel...
Soft and hard pastels and pencilsSoft and hard pastels have been around since the 16th century and have been used by some of the world's most famous artists. They are extremely versatile and can produce intensely vibrant colors as well as (perhaps more obviously), soft subtle shades of pale tones...
Oil PastelsLearn everything you need to know about using oil pastels...
Pastel AccessoriesUsing a few, well chosen accessories can greatly enhance the quality of your work...
Pastel PaperWant to know what paper to use? Click here to find out more...
See Pastels Tips From Other Visitors
Click below to see pastel tips from other visitors...
Don't throw awaythose broken pastelsI learned from Cheap Joe's catalogue to not throw away your crumbling, broken pastels. Pulverize them with a mortar, then mix in a bit of alcahol or mineral
How to erase soft pastelsI use scotch magic tape. It is has less glue and does not stick, tear, or leave glue on the paper. Put the sticky side down over the part you want to erase
Suede Mat BoardSuede Mat board is a wonderful surface for soft pastels. It absorbs so much color and is excellent if you are using many layers of color. It can be easily
For Your ProtectionIf you are like me and like to blend pastels with your fingers, there is a very good barrier cream made in Australia by Hamilton Pharmaceutical pty.
Pastels on Black PaperYou can buy acid free black construction paper at a large craft store or order it very inexpensively online. You get about 30 sheets for $5.00 Still-life
FixativeTreat your pastel artwork with fixative after each layer. The colour & texture will NOT change providing you do not spray too close to the image itself
My favorite pastel surfaceMy favorite primer for watercolor paper whether I'm using dry (hard or soft) pastels or oil pastels is clear Colourfix sanded primer. A sanded surface
Under painting in pastelsTo achieve greater depth in paintings, start your pastel with an under painting--start with hard pastels and darker colors, then build up with lighter
How to clean soft pastelsIf you want to clean your soft pastels, simply immerse them in a jar of uncooked, dry rice. Depending on how many you will be cleaning at any one time,
Hard and Soft Pastels: Know Your Composition and Colors!One thing I have learned from using pastels, is that it takes time to blend colors together, it takes many layers. So plan out your compostion, get a rough
Pressure FixativeI use a pressure technique in order to avoid spoiling my colors with fixative. With the painting face up on a flat table I cover the surface with waxed
Chamois cloth: Very useful in soft PastelsI have found a number of wonderful uses for ordinary chamios cloth, from any auto store. First, rubbed rather briskly, it will effectively remove pastel
Chalk Pastels In WaterChalk pastels are great for producing a soft, delicate look to your picture. But, if you soak a chalk pastel
rework an area of a pictureIf you need to go back into the picture say near the middle and you are worried about smudging your work take a piece of black paper and cut a square out
using fixativeIt is best when using fixative to only use it during the painting process and use what is known as workable fixative. It is a way of building up more
colors to use in skinwhen doing portraits I start out with a light cream color for a foundation and do shadows in blue's browns and red. The under layer of skin has so many
Cheap Alternative to FixativeTo fix chalk pastels use a cheap hairspray instead of the expensive arty fixative. Go to the 'pound shop' (or dollar shop) to stock up. Also, use pastels
Velour paperWhen working on velour paper, I found the best way is to work is in very fine layers building up the colour and spraying regularly with fixative. When
Be Bold With Base ColourI have only just started experimenting with pastels but have found that the more generous I am with the initial base colour, such as flesh tones, the better
Corrections To Pastel WorkThis is a good way to correct your work in soft pastels. Brush off the pastel from the area you are not happy with. Make a paper mask to cover the
Velvet Mat BoardI cut a mat the other day from a red/brown velvet board. The middle was too small to use for much of anything, so I decided to try it for a pastel painting.
How to keep your pastels cleanBuy cornstarch in a grocery store.(The type used for making cornbread). Pour some of it into a clean container. Place the dirty pastels in it. Gently move
Sharpening pastel pencilsAt last I have found a decent pencil sharpener to sharpen my pastel pencils!! It is a cosmetic pencil sharpener by Bourjois and has a large and small hole
Use Finger Plasters (Band Aids) to Blend!I went on YouTube for some video tutorials on how to use pastels. I was surprised to see that a man was using hand plaster (which he put around his 2nd
keep your fingers cleanWhen working with soft pastels your hands get dirty with the colours that you may contaminate your next colour with. Keep your hands clean by holding
A cheap pastel holder for those nubs.I learned from a thread on Wet Canvas of an idea for a inexpensive holder for the nubs of hard pastels. Use the end of a disposable razor! Here's the thread
A cheap alternative to expensive fixativeI actually received this tip from an art teacher years ago.......instead of using fixative on drawings and pastels, you can use hairspray which is just
DrummingWhen I want to paint a sunset or sunrise and I want the colours to blend subtly, I first put the colours on that I wish, blend them back and forth lightly
A cheap pastel holder for those nubs.Not rated yetI learned from a thread on Wet Canvas of an idea for a inexpensive holder for the nubs of hard pastels. Use the end of a disposable razor! Here's the thread
Mixing Landscape GreensNot rated yetEspecially if you're using student grade pastels, the range of greens you have might all be very bright true greens. In nature, the greens in many climates
Keeping pastels cleanNot rated yetI use chickpea flour instead of rice to store the pastels I am using. It's very effective. It also means I can keep the rest clean and therefore easy to
Fingers with Oil PastelsNot rated yetWhen I use oil pastel I like to use my fingers to smooth out some of the rough area that looks a little bumpy. You can also use a smooth paintbrush, sponge,
Retaining the color strength in your pastel work.Not rated yetSpray your pastel work "as you go along" in order to "set" the colors in your painting and to minimize the lessening of color strength that seems to occur
A few things I doNot rated yet1. I always have a wet rag handy for cleaning my hands between colour changes, there is nothing worse than spoiling a pale subject with a smear of dark
No fixative use at allNot rated yetA tip I picked up when creating with pastels is to complete the work and tap the back of the work lightly, all over, with a flat ruler type tool, (it must
Keeping pastel pencils sharpNot rated yetWhen working with pastel pencils I always have at the side a piece of fine or medium sandpaper to use to keep the pencil sharp and used at the right angle
Save the PowderNot rated yetWhen working with pastels, keep a tray of aluminum foil under your foam board and save the powder that falls from your work. When you have a good amount,
Learn to Draw Section
If you want to learn to draw to a standard you're happy with, you need to get the basics right from the outset.
So many would-be artist's experience is that this vital foundation is overlooked when they begin drawing and painting.
Time and again, people relate how they missed out at school, even though they liked art an