What Can I Do With Pastels?

Pastels are more versatile than many people think, there are quite a few ways of using them.  Firstly and probably the most obvious technique is using them as a line (drawing).  There are other techniques such as blending, tinting, subtractive methods and mixed media as well.  One of the qualities of pastel sticks is that you can use the point, the end or the side of the stick to create a different stroke or mark.

Diagonal Hatching

Using the side of the stick or the tip (this will determine the thickness of the lines) you can lay down lines that slightly overlap one another.

Thin Lines

Use the side of the tip of the pastel to create a thin, more precise line.

Lines with pastel
Lines with pastel

Cross Hatching

Working across in one direction and then an opposite direction to create a ‘crosshatch’.  This technique creates a textural effect.

Thick Bands

Using the complete length of the side of the pastel you can create a large area of grainy colour

Use the side of the pastel to get broad areas of tone - you may have to remove any protective wrapping
Use the side of the pastel to get broad areas of tone – you may have to remove any protective wrapping

Stippling

Using the blunt end of a pastel stick which is flat you can create a stippled effect.

Using pastels in different ways
Stippling

Layering colour

This is achieved by placing one pastel colour on top of another until you have a ‘blend’ but without smudging the pastel into one another

Tinting

Tinting paper is achieved with pastel by shaving some tiny bit of pastel from the stick using a scalpel knife and then smudging the ‘dust’ into the paper with a rag or finger.

Blending

Using your finger or a blending tool blending one pastel colour with another.

Blending pastels with the finger
Blending pastels with the finger

Mixed Media

Pastel can be used on top of dried watercolour for more intense colour.  It can also be used with pen (pen on top of pastel) and it works very well with pencil drawings.

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