Before You Buy Pastel Supplies

Pastels are sticks of ground pigment mixed with chalk and gum or oil, then shaped into drawing sticks. Pastels cannot be mixed on a palette like paints, but are mixed on the paper by overlaying or blending.

Pastel Fixative

Pastel paintings must be fixed to prevent smudging. Fixative is a resin dissolved in spirits; when you apply it the spirits evaporate leaving the resin to hold the pastel pigment in place.

Fixative can be bought as an aerosol or in liquid form, which must be applied with an atomizer, not painted on. Always use fixative in a well-ventilated area.

Useful Extras

A soft watercolor brush is ideal for blending colors and brushing away excess dust (never blow it away as the dust will end up in your lungs). Paper torchons (tightly rolled bits of paper) are used to blend and lift colors. A putty rubber, which can be shaped into a point with your fingers, is ideal for lifting pastel. Tracing paper can be used to cover part of a painting to prevent smudging.

Other Pastel Painting Surfaces

Pastel boards are more textured than pastel paper, enabling you to apply color more heavily. Watercolor, cartridge, or drawing paper can also be used for pastel painting. Being cheap, drawing paper is ideal for preparatory studies.

Paper that's going to be used for pastels can be primed with gesso or acrylic paint to color it.

    Pastel Paper

    Textured, colored papers are made specifically for pastels. Some have random textures; others have repeated lines. A colored background helps create unity in a pastel painting, which is why parts of the paper are usually left exposed.

    Pastel paper is available in a range of colors, from black and white, to earth colors, to primary colors.

    Pastel Colors

    There are hundreds of different colors and tints to choose from. Decide what subjects you intend to paint and buy a small selection of suitable colors. You can then buy extra colors as the need arises. Some manufacturers offer boxed sets with a range of colors suitable for landscapes and portraits.

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    Your Citation
    Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Before You Buy Pastel Supplies." ThoughtCo, Apr. 23, 2014, Boddy-Evans, Marion. (2014, April 23). Before You Buy Pastel Supplies. Retrieved from Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Before You Buy Pastel Supplies." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).