“Pastels are simple to use, with no drying time, allowing the artist to draw directly on the surface without any intermediate tool or medium to degrade the freshness of the color,” says artist Greg Albert. “The colors created by pastel painting are brilliant, and a variety of pastel painting techniques can create a wide range of effects, from crisp lines and moody shadows to soft edges and feathery textures. The medium of pastel is very forgiving—mistakes can be easily lifted from the surface up to the moment a fixative is applied.”
Explore this user-friendly medium with Pastel Painting: 5 Articles on Pastel Basics for Artists. It’s a free download that features pastel techniques for beginners, so you can learn everything that you need to get started in pastel art.
First, artist Maggie Price (1947–2013) explains the variety of surfaces available to pastel artists in “Support System” (Pastel Journal, June 2008). Learn about some of the brands you can use and see examples of the results of fine art pastel paintings created on them. You’ll see that there’s a difference in the substrate, and get an idea of what you want to use for your own pastel art based on what you’ll find here.
Albert offers a Mediapedia of painting with pastels from The Artist’s Magazine (October 2009). See pastel techniques that you can incorporate in your work, and get an overview on surfaces, tools, and the chemistry of pastels. The article also features a Q&A section on painting with pastels.
Following this is more advice from Price and her book, Getting Started With Pastels, on blending pastels, a common practice used to soften edges.
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Featured Articles on How to Paint With Pastels:
Rug Sale Marbella (11×14), by Maggie Price.
“Support System” by Maggie Price
“Whether you’re an experienced pastel artist or just getting started, choosing a surface for a painting has a lot to do with the final outcome. As the medium of pastel has continued to gain popularity over the last dozen or so years, the number of surfaces available to the artist has grown steadily.”
“Mediapedia” by Greg Albert
Tip: (A common mistake beginners make is buying too many colors. Limit your selection to a range of warm and cool colors from each of the primary and secondary hues, plus a few earth colors, neutrals or grays, black and several sticks of white. You can augment your collection with extra colors as needed. About 30 sticks is a suitable number for a beginner’s pastel box. As you develop a style, you’ll determine quickly which colors you use most.)
“Blending Colors and Tools for Blending” by Maggie Price
“You can use your fingers to blend pastels to create dramatic skies and mirrored reflections. Overblending flattens colors and can make them muddy, but used properly, this technique is great for skies and water.” Get two articles by Price within this free download.
“Using Color Studies as a Reference” by Richard McKinley
“As you underpaint, think about what colors and values of pastel you’ll be using. Where you plan to use light pastels, underpaint with watercolor a little darker to give the pastel layer depth and richness. Remember that pastel is an opaque medium; anything you do in the underpainting can be covered, so experiment. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
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Take advantage of these free articles from The Artist’s Magazine, Pastel Journal, and Getting Started With Pastels to help you learn how to paint with pastels. Along with this free download, you’ll receive the free ArtistsNetwork.com newsletter with pastel painting techniques, inspiration and more.