Great Pastel Techniques for Using Symbolism in Art

Today’s artists can use a variety of methods to translate meaning into their paintings—composition, light and shadow, values, point of view, atmospheric light, as well as the objects themselves.

Enjoy this still life gallery of symbolic pastels, and read more about pastel techniques for symbolism in art in the February 2014 issue of Pastel Journal.


Feminine Nature (pastel, 16x20) by Patricia Tribastone | pastel techniques

Feminine Nature (pastel, 16×20) by Patricia Tribastone

Feminine Nature is a study of historical symbols representing a woman coming
of age. The pear represents her femininity; the egg, her ability to bear children; and the milk jug, her nurturing instinct. The basket historically would have been given to a bride upon her marriage and would have been filled with items needed for her household. The mango in Indian culture was a fruit for celebrations, and the persimmon—which sweetens as it ripens—represents the maturation of a young woman. Her passions are recognized by the passion fruit.



Knowledge and Introspection (pastel, 12x18) by Patricia Tribastone | pastel techniques

Knowledge and Introspection (pastel, 12×18) by Patricia Tribastone

In the painting Knowledge and Introspection, the lit candle signifies the illumination of knowledge, the apple and the books represent the knowledge, and the spectacles, magnifying glass and the opera glasses represent the desire to see more closely, thus learn more.



Hanging Out (pastel, 18x20) by Patricia Tribastone | pastel techniques

Hanging Out (pastel, 18×20) by Patricia Tribastone

Hanging Out is a playful painting with brushes swinging from, of all things, barbed wire. The barbed wire is meant to suggest the difficulties endured by the artist along their career path, and the brushes gingerly hanging from the wire suggest a bit of frustration. The most stable part of the painting is the jar holding the pencils, drawing being the fundamental upon which the artist builds their craft.



Patricia Tribastone ( is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies’ Master Circle and holds Master Status with the Pastel Society of America.





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