Aron Kravits - Artist Website
Sep 18

Pastel painting – tips, kinds and general information

         “Red pepper and two garlic cloves”                                              by Gail Sibley

Pastel painting (pastel in French, and pastello in Italian language, is derived by the word of the pasta – the dough) is the image of dry, soft, colored pencils which are rimless. The term “pastel” is also used to refer the painting or drawing technique and works which are executed in this technique. Pastel painting is really beautiful by itself. From the other painting techniques it differs with the exceptional clarity and color intensity, soft, velvety matte paint film surface. More resistant to light than, for example, watercolor or oil painting flowers, it does not lose its qualities for centuries. In the museums of the world near the yellowed, darkened by time oil paintings, you can see any old pastel painting, retained a surprising freshness of colors. The main purpose of pastel is that it is alive, quick and thumbnail sketches. The combination of the speed of the stroke which is characteristic pattern with a wealth of artistic resources which are available to the painting, pastel allows the artist to express adequately the nature of the portrait, form and color. Basically, this technique is preferred by those masters, for whom it is important as accurately as possible to convey the mood of color, background and atmosphere of the picture, to give more realism to fine details.

                                                What is pastel painting?

Pastel is divided into three types: dry, oily and waxy. Most often, the artists use dry pastel, but there are also those who prefer oil (panda). Pastel gives unlimited freedom in the methods of work. Beginning artists are not recommended to be taken immediately for the material. It would be nice to start to learn the basics of academic painting and then, at a certain consistency and experience, you can successfully use the techniques of this pastel painting art.
Dry pastel is hard and soft. Each of them has its own characteristics. In this case it would be great to know more about their characteristics and choose that one which should be good according to your own preferences, but in solid pastel there is binder more, so it is less brittle.

   How to paint with pastels?

Let us examine the most popular technique which is the technique of dry pastel. Drawing begins with a preliminary figure. Drawing can be any chalk pastels, most importantly accurately and they are barely visible. It is better that the color of the crayon will not be too different from the paper colors (gray or black) and it is easy to whisk with a small cloth. Tip: do not use a graphite pencil because it is not suitable for the preliminary underpainting, as a result pastel will badly lie on it. When the preliminary drawing is done, you are ready to spray pitch, break off from the chalk pastels the small piece (about 2-3 cm) for convenience.
After the basic color and tonal connections are found, it is necessary to clarify the drawing, the amount of working through things. Pastel has incomparable property to transfer materiality of the things. Using classical techniques such as the bar, points, lines, strokes and other, you can specify the shape perfectly. To synthesize the form can be realized with the rubbing (with the help of fingers), but it all depends on the objectives and interests of the artist.

                                     “Azalea path” by K.Margulis

Tip for beginners: it is better to pre-define the tone for each of the subjects for the proper transmission of it (very bright, light and dark).
As part of a dry chalk pastels contains plain white chalk, which makes it difficult to transfer the saturated color shade. Out of this it will be the right tone. How to do it? Black or dark gray should be stained with dark areas first, already, and then color will be introduced by means of shading or hatching. When the entire figure will work out, the artist should once again with several sides to look at his work to highlight the main details.


Technique of oil pastel art is almost similar, but still different from the dry. For example, to grind a pastel, more efforts should be needed besides the several more which are required with the dry one. Brush and thinner are also required to create drawings in this technique, the figure for the prior use chalk or oil pastels dry coal. Basic tones are drawn as flat shaded or a small piece of chalk. If you want to get classical variant, which should be painted on canvas, you should follow these tips.
Underpainting should be drawn with bristle brush, smearing it with a drawing liquid or other analogues diluents for oil paints.
When working with shadows, experienced artists are advised to match the tone of the final result. When drawing the details, shapes and textures cannot be limited to the methods of work – shade with a cloth, brush, finger.
There is a wrong approach by some artists that all work with pastels looks too soap and shade. In fact, this is even better, because it is well, when there is an opportunity to highlight accented seats and secondary blur! This allows you to implement any plan of the artist.
It is really good to know while painting on canvas!

Some more tips

If you have the dried pastels, which is difficult to write on paper, it can be crushed to a powder. By adding water to it, you get a paste which can be applied by brush strokes of varying intensity.
A well-known artist Lesley Harrison is the best master of pastel painting. Her paintings are simply unique and her famous oil paintings are well-known. Some even confuse them with pictures or paintings, which are painted by professional and true artists. Such realism, according to the artist is reached with the help of velvet or sand paper. The first one can well smooth he lines and colors, and the second one sharpens important details. Work with pastels can be stretched on the canvas, only here for pastel painting requires a special stretcher. Such technology is invented by Gilot French artist. Canvas on it should be tightened using special screws – then this is what you need. Keep these drawings which are by pastel painted. For this work can be attached or placed under glass.

                                                                                   Like a conclusion

So the classical paintings on canvas are the best variant for transferring the whole range of emotions and feelings, which are in the artist’s soul and intentions. They are not traditional black and white pictures, but these ones are the great way to give the mood and intentions of the person who made it. Pastel painting is a great variant for present for any person, because artworks of this art are appreciated by children and adults, who even don’t know anything in the art and its directions. We hope that if you want to try to paint this picture by your own our tips from this article will help and will be really important and useful for all beginners. Smooth surface, nice image, deep topic and a variety of emotions – all this are in the classical canvas artwork of pastel art.

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