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Pastels


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Common Questions
Student Grade

Soft pastels contain less binder which gives them their velvety texture or "bloom". They contain more pigment, so the color is rich and can easily be blended or smudged with a finger or soft tool. The down side is that they are more delicate and can break easily. The same softness that makes them easy to blend also allows them to be accidentally smudged, so it's a good idea to use a spray fixative once you complete your work. Their soft texture creates more dust which can be a problem for some people.

 
Soft Pastels Open Stock
 
Medium and Hard Pastels
Pastel Chalk

Medium and Hard Pastels have less pigment, and more binder. They are firmer to work with, but the colors are not as vivid. They are good for making crisp lines and details as they can be sharpened to a point. They are often used for outlining or adding intricate details to work done in other media. Because hard pastels are less vivid, some pastel artists use them for background color. Hard pastels are recommended for preliminary sketching.

 
 
 
Pastel Questions and Answers

 

 

  • Why should I use pastels?

    Pastels offer brilliant colors and high pigmentation. They are ideal for an artist who wishes to use intense color. They offer a lot of diversity, as they are mixable, wipeable, and water soluble. They can be used to achieve a wide range of drawing effects, from crisp lines to soft feathery textures.

    They are easy to use when paint is not. Because there is no drying time, they make it easy to be spontaneous, and work at a moment's notice.

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  • How long have pastels been in use? Are they a serious fine arts medium?

    Historically, pastels can be traced back to the 16th century and have been used by many famous artists, but they became especially popular in the 19th century. Delacroix, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler, Degas, and Mary Cassatt all used pastels for finished work as well as for sketches.

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  • Will pastels last? Are they archival?

    Because they have no liquid binder, they do not degrade over time. Pastels are valued for their long lasting beauty. Choose a surface and support that will stand the test of time.

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  • What are the differences between hard pastels and soft pastels? Which is better?

    The hardness or softness of a pastel depends on the amount of binder or filler in its makeup. There are advantages to each style of pastel.

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  • What are the advantages of soft pastels?

    Soft pastels contain less binder, which gives them their velvety texture or “bloom.” They contain more pigment, so the color is rich and can easily be blended or smudged with a finger or soft tool. The down side is that they are more delicate and can break easily. The same softness that makes them easy to blend also allows them to be accidentally smudged, so it's a good idea to use a spray fixative once you complete your work. Their soft texture creates more dust, which can be a problem for some people.

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  • What are the advantages of hard pastels?

    Hard pastels have less pigment, and more binder. They are firmer to work with, but the colors are not as vivid. They are good for making crisp lines and details as they can be sharpened to a point. They are often used for outlining or adding intricate details to work done in other media. Because hard pastels are less vivid, some pastel artists use them for background color. Hard pastels are recommended for preliminary sketching.

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  • What is the difference between hard/soft pastels and oil pastels?

    The main difference is in the texture. Hard and soft pastels could be described as "chalky." Oil pastels might be described as having a "waxy" or crayon like consistency. They are cleaner, and do not rub off as much. They resist crumbling and do not pose any health risk in terms of breathing dust. Oil pastels are also more permanent and offer intense pigments. However, they are more difficult to blend and never fully harden. Therefore, oil pastels can be smudged in storage.

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  • What is the difference between student and artist grade pastels?

    The difference lies in the amount of pigment and its quality, as well as the proportion and grade of binders, fillers, or clay.

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  • I've never used pastels before. Which is better for beginners?

    Student grade pastels make a fine low-investment way to experiment with pastels. If you find you are serious about them, you can always upgrade later. Artist grade pastels have much more vivid colors, and offer a broader range of shades and hues.

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  • How can pastels be cleaned?

    The easiest way to clean pastels is to wipe each stick individually with a paper towel. A good trick for pastels is to spread cornmeal in a container with a lid. Add a few pastels and put lid on container. Shake the container for 2-3 minutes. You will be amazed at how clean they will come out.

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Videos
  • Blick Brand Drawing Materials
    Blick Brand Drawing Materials

    At Blick we pride ourselves on providing artist quality drawing materials at the most competitive price. See why our Blick brand Studio Artists' Colored Pencils, Studio Markers and Artists' Soft Pastels are an excellent choice for fine artists - even those on a budget.

  • Faber-Castell
    Pitt Pastel Pencils
    Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils

    Faber-Castell's Pitt Pastel Pencils are very suitable for lines, shading, and delicate color transitions, and also for extended areas. Use them for sketches, studies, portraits, still-lifes, and landscape drawings. They give a smooth flow of color without being used up too rapidly. Colors are lightfast and rich in pigment, allowing dense shading.

  • Rembrandt Soft Pastels
    Rembrandt Soft Pastels

    Rembrandt pastels are made from the purest pigments and mixed with the finest quality kaolin clay binder. No pigments containing heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead, and cobalt, are used in production which ensures that the pastels have no hard bits or sharp edges.

  • Tips and Techniques Using Prismacolor NuPastels and Soft Pastels
    Tips and Techniques Using Prismacolor NuPastels and Soft Pastels

    Prismacolor NuPastels aren't just for drawing. You'll be amazed by how many different techniques you can apply using Prismacolor NuPastel color sticks. See them in action in a variety of watercolor techniques, with solvents, even monoprinting! Watch this video and then try for yourself.

  • Tips for Mixed Media Art
    Tips for Mixed Media Art

    Hilary shares several tips on working in mixed media. By following these simple rules, your work will remain stable and long lasting.

  • PanPastel Artists' Pastels
    PanPastel Artists' Pastels

    PanPastels were created to offer the artist a new tool for artistic expression by merging dry medium with wet, painterly technique. These highest quality pastels are rich, soft and lightfast and are contained in a truly unique pan that holds 35% more material than the average stick pastel.

  • PanPastel and Sofft Tools Tips and Techniques
    PanPastel and Sofft Tools Tips and Techniques

    See what distinquishes these high quality artists' pastels and tools from any other. Both products were invented for artists by artists and offer a new and unique way of painting with pastel. This video will show various applications, tips, and techniques.

  • Many Uses for Sofft Tools
    Many Uses for Sofft Tools

    Sofft tools were specifically developed for use with PanPastel soft pastels but are so versatile, inexpensive, and reusable, they can also be used with most water-based art and craft materials. Try using with watercolor, acrylic paint, glazes and with a variety of dry mediums, such as hard or soft traditional pastels and charcoal to create exciting new techniques, marks, and effects.

  • Unison Pastels
    Unison Pastels

    Unison Pastels were created by an artist for artists. These uniquely soft and highly pigmented sticks are individually rolled which eliminates hard spots and provides consistent texture and color.

 

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