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.
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.
Use the side of the tip of the pastel to create a thin, more precise line.
Working across in one direction and then an opposite direction to create a ‘crosshatch’. This technique creates a textural effect.
Using the complete length of the side of the pastel you can create a large area of grainy colour
Using the blunt end of a pastel stick which is flat you can create a stippled effect.
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 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.
Using your finger or a blending tool blending one pastel colour with another.
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.