A few weeks ago, I gave one of my neighbors a set of pastels that I was not using. When she asked me how to draw with pastels, I realized that other people might also wonder how to draw with this colorful medium.
Presented here is an article that covers some of the fundamentals of drawing with pastels.
There are several different types of pastels but the same basic drawing methods are used with each type. The most common types are hard pastels and soft pastels. Soft pastels are generally used more often than hard pastels because of the brilliant colors that these sticks produce.
The colors produced by hard pastels are not as vibrant as soft pastel colors, but hard pastels are very good to use for creating outlines and adding detail to drawings.
Oil pastels are another type of pastels that are utilized in creating drawings. These pastels are soft and fairly moist and the colors they produce are usually quite vivid. In addition to these different types of pastel sticks, there are also pastel pencils available for use in creating pastel drawings. Pastels of all types are usually sold in sets that contain multiple colors.
When creating a drawing with pastels it is often best to create a light sketch of the drawing with a pencil or hard pastel before applying color. It is also good to do a practice drawing first, in order to become acclimated with this art medium.
The type of drawing surface that a pastel drawing is created on is very important. Papers or other drawing surfaces used for pastel drawings should have a rough grain or texture that the pigment or color in the pastels can cling to.
Special types of paper that are designed to be used with pastels can usually be purchased at craft and art supply stores. Some people like to create pastel drawings on canvases made for painting, while others like to use charcoal paper.
One of the positive attributes of using pastels as an art medium is the way that different-colored pastel colors can be blended together. Because pastels are usually made with dry pigment and some form of binder, they regularly produce dust while they are being used.
It is common practice for some pastel artists to periodically stop during the production of a drawing to clean their hands of dust and let the accumulated dust fall off of the drawing surface. For people with allergies and respiratory issues, the use of a face mask may be necessary.
As with painting, there are specific techniques that are often utilized when a person is drawing with pastels. Some techniques are practiced with both painting and pastel. For much of the drawing process, the pastel sticks can be held much like a pencil or paint brush.
For large expanses of color, the sides of the pastel sticks can be utilized. It is important to handle the pastel sticks somewhat gently, without pressing down too hard on them because they can break easily. Sometimes pieces of tissue paper, paper towels or cotton are used to blend and spread pastel colors on the drawing.
A common technique used when creating a pastel drawing is the method of working from darker to lighter. With this method, the darkest colors in the drawing are applied first, then the parts with lighter colors are gradually added. As layers of the gradually-lighter colors are added, they can be blended with the existing colors, creating a seamless effect.
The sgraffito technique involves applying layers of color to the paper or other drawing surface, then scratching away desired portions of the color. This technique is especially useful for creating outlines of images and for adding fine detail to drawings.
A technique known as the resist method is sometimes used with pastels. This method entails using other mediums such as paint with the pastels, then scratching-away parts of the dried paint to reveal pastel-enhanced surface.
An important thing to remember about drawings made with pastels is that they can be smudged easily. If the drawing is rubbed or brushed against another object, the drawing can be damaged or destroyed. It is sometimes best to preserve drawings with a fixative, but care must be taken when using these products. Pastel drawings can also be preserved between clear pieces of plastic or under glass.
No matter what type of pastels are used, it’s always fun to create a colorful work of art with this medium.
Personal experience with using pastels