DISCOVERING THE SECRETS OF PASTEL PAINTINGS

Pastels are my weapon of Choice – Here’s Why

Like all art media choices there is no one best or definitive practical method that must be employed by an Artist or weekend Art enthusiast.

My association with pastel sticks started many years ago and I was first attracted to the medium because I could stop and start working on pictures without lengthy preparation or clean-ups. Pastel sticks or crayons consist of pure powdered pigments combinedwith a binder. The exact composition and characteristics of an individual pastel stick selection depends on Artist’s choices.

my pastel sticksI work with soft pastels and use hard pastel pencils for finer deails when required. I had no idea of the wonderful and unique, spontaneous qualities, and range of techniques that were offered by pastels when I first started. Finding what works for you is half the fun.

The biggest difference between pastel art and painting with acrylics or oils, is that there is no palette mixing board. My techique is to apply pastels in layers and ‘mix’ the hues on the ‘Arches’ cold press paper by gently rubbing with your finger/s. Rarely is one pure colour used in any composition and even though a particular form may seem to be just ‘red’, there will be at least 4 colour layers building that ‘red’.

I use about 300 different pastel colour sticks with Schmincke, AS-Artists Soft, Rembrandt and Unison being my favourite brands. (Some cheaper Japanese pastel sticks are fanatastic, but are hard to find in Australia) As one builds a picture, areas of finished work or underlayers will need to be protected, the pastel surface is very fragile and it’s easy to ‘muck up’ your art so a good quality fixative spray is a must as it bonds the surface pigments and allows you to work over the surface with new colours.

Experience will tell you that overworking the paper surface can be a disaster if you lose the ‘tooth’ of the paper that the pigment ‘clings’ to.

An added expense with pastel art is that the finished work must be professionally framed behind glass.

Some of my works from 30 years ago have maintained their brilliant colour integrity as if done yesterday.

I encourage all budding pastel Artists to ‘try this at home’ but be prepared to ‘splash out’ on materials, starting with a boxed set of 20 high quality soft pastels and a pad of 300gsm water colour paper will get you excited very quickly. Pastel sticks can cost up $7 each though good paper is quite reasonable.

F. Wind

10 comments

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    1. Omg, don’t ever attempt read anything put together by Van Gogh, Dali or Pollock! But I’m not offended, 74.8% of all visitors to the world’s major galleries only ever read the Artist’s statement adjacent to the Artwork……and then fleetingly give the Art a cursory glance, or move onto the next statement. How kinky is that! Enjoy your proof reading hobby.

    1. So wonderful to get positive feedback, art is great for the soul and creating something tangible like a cake, dress, garden or picture validates our existence and gives us something to share with our friends.

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