Demystifying Different Types of Pastels

They look like chalk, are sometimes soft or hard, used dry or diluted: pastels lend themselves to many variations with dazzling and infinite colors. Here is a brief overview of the different types of pastels and their use.

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Very versatile, pastels can be used in both drawing and painting. They are ideal for adding a touch of colour or texture to your artwork. Widely used at one point in art history for creating portraits, today they can be found in a wide range of works and techniques.

DRY PASTELS - SOFT, HARD OR PENCIL

There are three types of dry pastels: soft, hard and pencil.
- Soft pastels are the most fragile, as they have a slightly powdery texture. They are offered in a wide range of shades, thus not limiting the artist's choice of colour.
- Hard pastels are less brittle than soft pastels. They are often square-shaped and look a bit like chalk. They can be handy when you want to get precise lines since you can sharpen their tips. Finally, pastel pencils look like wooden pencils, but with a soft or hard pastel lead. They are ideal for adding fine, elaborate details to your artwork.

With all types of dry pastels, choose a surface with a certain grain to ensure good pigment adhesion.

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FATTY PASTELS - OIL OR WAX

There are two types of fatty pastels: oil and wax.
- Rumour has it, oil pastels were created at Pablo Picasso’s request. Being oil-based, they feature a greasy and velvety texture. They can be used directly on paper like pencils, or like paint by using a wet brush to obtain the colour.
- Wax pastels are more economical and are rarely used alone. They are wax-based, water repellent and offer saturated, opaque colours. Unlike dry pastels, fatty pastels are ideal for smooth surfaces.

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PANPASTEL

PanPastels are presented in pans. They could almost be confused with make-up, as they also feature a creamy texture (PanPastels are, however, not suitable for cosmetic use).
Fun fact: as they can be used with accessories, PanPastels are not as messy as traditional pastels. They can be mixed, and dry colours spread like liquid paint. A real innovation in the pastel world!
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CONCLUSION

No matter what type of pastel you choose, this medium will certainly allow you to experiment with new techniques. Pastel artwork can be well framed with the right advice.

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