portrait in pastels

Pastels are great for painting with a drawing medium. 

 There are two kind of pastels - soft pastels which is chalky and oil pastels which owns a waxy texture and both are in rounded or square stick form.  Soft pastels can either be very soft and powdery to hard, the latter is especially adept to drawing and is very similar to conte crayon.  Even some charcoal types are now closely related to pastel.  Pastel formats are available in both oil and chalk pastels and are generally harder than the stick variety and care should be taken as ordinary sharpeners can break them quite easily - therefore we use sanding paper or blades for sharpening.

Soft pastels are made from pigment, precipitated chalk and a binder.  Oil pastels - according to me should have a completely different name as it is as far removed from soft pastels as oils are to acrylics, being made from oil, wax and pigment, it rather resembles paint than pastel.  Oil pastels can be softened with diluents like turpentine and linseed oil and can be used in conjunction with oil paints very effectively.  It is also a good medium for preliminary gestural work in mixed media.

Soft pastels are wonderful to work with because they are rich in colours, spontaneous and direct in application and extremely blendable - very much like oil paints.  They can be removed easily with less changes to your support (paper) than you may think - you can use a good quality putty eraser for rubbing areas out.  care should be taken to apply dark colours of some makes because they can cause scratches.  Soft pastel can also be sanded to pigment for various effects.

Pastels need paper that is absorbent and if you want to create realistic work you need to use the smoother variety like Fabriano Tiziano, whereas Canson Pastel paper is suited for gestural and advanced styles.

Pastels are integrated as part of our drawing and painting courses and can be used together very effectively.  we teach you to use all the correct materials, planning of your pastel painting including the drawing , the application, blending and control of all the elements.