Pastels and Charcoals, Continued
Pastels are pigment, chalk, and a binder in stick or pencil (wood encased)
form. The binder is usually gum tragacanth. Pastel sticks apply broad
swatches of color while pastel pencils draw thin, precise lines. You may use
pastels as a opaque or semi-opaque medium. Pastels combine easily with
other media such as pencil, crayon, and paints to form mixed media images.
Pastels come in soft, hard, or semi-soft sticks and in pencils. The softer the
pastel, the more dust produced by heavy strokes. Hard pastels work better
on smooth-surfaced paper than softer pastels that require a paper with some
Pastels are a drawing medium capable of producing painterly images. When
drawing with pastels, you should have stumps or tortillons, a stiff brush, and
soft, hard, and kneaded erasers nearby. The paper you select must have
tooth. Hold pastels as you would pencils. Drawings generally proceed from
dark to light. Shading and color gradations are made by crosshatching or
overstroking pastel strokes until you produce the desired effect. When
drawing with oil pastels, use a brush lightly moistened with turpentine for
At the completion of the drawing, spray over the entire image with fixative.
If the drawing loses all highlights, the fixative was too strong and you will
have to redraw the highlights.
When storing pastels, separate the drawings with a sheet of acetate. Avoid
surface pressure and lateral movement. Although sprayed with a fixative, the
surface of a pastel drawing may still rub off and smear.
Oil chalk has the appearance of pastels but, it contains oil. Do not use oil
chalk with pastels. The oil binder may leech into the pastel paper leaving a
halo of darker paper around the pigment. Use oil chalk with oil-based
pigments and impasto. You can also use oil chalk to detail or delineate.
Turpentine brushed onto oil chalk will eliminate or blend strokes.
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