If pastel drawing is a media you want to try, we have some tips to help make your artistic journey a pleasant one. When choosing pastels be aware that there a few different types; oil, soft , and hard. Each type feels and looks different, but applies color the same. Soft pastels feel like chalk, hard pastels are harder and shiny, oil pastels feel like children’s wax crayons.
There are even different types of pastel paper to apply the pastels on. You can work on canvas, paper with tooth or texture, charcoal paper, or fine grained sandpaper. All these hold the pastel onto the surface, but can give texture and easily blend the color on the drawing. Pastels can also be bought in pencil form for creating sharper images and fine detail, you can buy a starter pack of pastels from you local art shop.
Some techniques you may want to try with your pastels are: shading and blending colors into one another, cross hatching colors to create a surface appeal for your piece, scumbling where you use wavy lines to create a depth of blended color, scratching with a pen or knife to pop a color from behind another color, and stippling by rapidly dotting the page in close proximation with your pastel stick for a textured look.
To blend your pastels you can use a number of tools which can be found in your home, or bought specially from an art supplier. You can buy stumps and erasers which can be used to blend the colors. You can also use household items like ear buds for smaller harder to reach places, toilet paper, bread, brushes and sponges to create special effects.
You can practice the techniques on you own or you can buy a book that explains in detail the effect you want to try to recreate. Art classes can also help you learn techniques with hands on instruction. Just remember when working with pastels that you should wear gloves to stop the color from rubbing onto your hands and possibly contaminating your piece. When your finished with your pastels you should wipe them off and keep them clean.
After you’ve finished with your work you should spray it with a fixative to stop the piece from becoming contaminated with dirt or accidental smudging. Remember that fixative is toxic, so follow the instructions carefully when using it. You can also use the fixative to separate layers if you want to keep one layer as is. Using a fixative can alter the color pigmentation though, so do be careful when using it. If you need to put your work up before you finish with it, you can protect your drawing with acid-free transparent paper.