Pastel is a unique material that can hardly be attributed to one type of fine art: it can be used both for classical graphic studies and for painting techniques. The emergence of the material and how pastel became popular.
The first mention of pastel dates back to the 16th century, when the Italian painter J.P. Lomazzo first described the “a pastello” drawing technique, referring to such a creator as Leonardo da Vinci. In the sketches, the artists used white chalk, sanguine and charcoal (these materials became the founders of the pastel) to give color to the sketches.
The technique itself is called “dry staining” and implies a certain sequence of drawing: sanguine was used to draw the image of a person, coal was responsible for the shadow, and chalk for highlights. In the same century, artists experimented and added different natural pigments to create new shades of the palette.
The composition featured chalk to soften bright colors, which led to the appearance of the word “pastel” – a soft color with the addition of white. Pressed colored sticks have gained popularity due to their availability and ease of use: they are easy to take with you for quick sketches from nature, and also used for full-fledged work in the studio.
In the 17th century, the Italian artist Rosalba Carriera consolidated the success of the pastel with her sophisticated portraits of ladies from high society. The new material allowed soft transitions, and the velvet texture gave tenderness to the whole look.
The peak of pastel popularity came in the 19th century and was due to a new era in painting with the advent of the Impressionists. In the philosophy of the new artists, the image should be filled with lightness and airiness, convey freshness from the first impression, so the new material fit their vision perfectly.
Against the background of all painters, it is worth highlighting the impressionist Edgar Degas, who prefers pastels. His series of works on dancers reflect the grace and grace of ballerinas, while translucent colors and muted shades of the material itself enhance the effect.
Despite the fact that the popularity of pastel began to decline in the 20th century, it is still appreciated among professional artists because of the variety of types, each of which allows you to bring the idea to life, whether it is a porter with fine details or an abstract painting with sweeping lines.
The art materials market offers a wide selection of pastels for drawing.
Manufacturers present a wide range of stationery products for both student and professional work. Most often, pastels are presented in sets in boxes with a foam backing and separators that hold each individual crayon. This layout option protects the bars from breakage and mixing colors, and is also convenient for storage.
Professional art stores offer pastel crayons by the piece, which is convenient when compiling a personal palette. Some companies produce non-standard sizes of sticks, suitable for painting over large areas of the picture. Artistic pastel is presented in five types: dry , oil , wax , water-soluble , and also in the form of pastel pencils.
The classic and most common type, found everywhere, not only in specialized stores, but also in stationery. Such a pastel is distinguished by a uniform coverage and ease of layer-by-layer work – glazing. The colors are easily mixed with each other, allowing you to get a varied number of shades from the available limited palette. Finished dry pastel drawings are unstable and easy to smear by hand, which means fixing the finished work with a special fixative. Dry pastel is divided into three levels of hardness: hard , soft and ultra soft .
Due to the predominance of the binder, such a bar is durable. It almost does not crumble during operation, which complicates the shading process, but at the same time allows you to draw thin and clear lines, suitable for shading. Produced in the form of rectangular crayons.
Soft pastel is responsible for the well-known velvety and light texture in the work. Pigment predominates in the composition, which is why the bars are brittle, crumble heavily and require careful work. This type is perfectly mixed and stewed with each other, it is convenient for them to cover large areas. Produced in the form of rounded crayons. Ultra soft pastel In the world there is one company producing this type of pastel –
In the production, almost no binder is used, which is why the colors are as pigmented and pure as possible. The material is presented not in standard bars, but in transparent round containers resembling cosmetic eye shadows. To work with this type of pastel, you will need special tools: sponges and plastic palette knives with foam nozzles. There is no clear difference between soft and ultra soft pastels. The second one is preferred by artists working on large surfaces, since when using Pan Pastel there is almost no dust, and application with an applicator allows you to tint paper or make under painting in the shortest possible time.
A type of pastel that appeared in the middle of the 20th century, distinguished by its extraordinary brightness and saturation of colors. Oil pastel differs from dry in coverage due to the linseed oil used as a binder. The crayons glide pleasantly over the coloring surface, leaving clear lines, but at the same time they are difficult to mix with each other, which does not allow working in layers.
For shading, you should use silicone brushes with a rubber tip or a cotton swab. When using a solvent on the finished work, you can achieve the effect of oil painting – this way the drawing will turn from a graphic work into a painting.
Material unfairly considered amateur and recorded in the ranks of children’s materials. The pastel is bright, but does not mix at all with each other and does not shade, ideal for drawing in mixed media. The wax in the composition does not allow water to seep, which is why crayons are used to work with watercolor and gouache.
Water-soluble pastel is the youngest type of all presented. The material is similar in consistency to oil, only less greasy, but the same covering. The finished work can be partially or completely blurred with a brush and water, which gives room for creativity and experimentation.
You can’t talk about pastels without mentioning pastel pencils. The material fell in love with the fact that, unlike dry pastels, it does not stain your hands and allows you to sharpen the tip as sharply as possible to work out small elements. They combine well in mixed media when coated over watercolor or gouache.
In stores you can find both sets and piece options. But do not forget about the careful storage of pencils and their sharpening. If you drop a pencil, then the pastel inside can almost shatter, and you should sharpen it with a knife so that the sharpener also does not injure the stylus and does not turn it inside the wooden shell.
Paper is the basis for drawing with any material, the result of the finished work may depend on its quality. Pastel is not as dependent on the surface as the same watercolor, but there are some features. pastel paper Specialized paper differs in texture and abrasiveness. The rough base retains the crumbly pastel pigment and prevents it from rolling.
Pastel is not the most practical material to use, so pastel paper is often produced not only in white, but also in color to save crayons and time. In addition to individual sheets, you can find gluing or sketchbooks. In the second version, several colors of paper are found, and sheets of tracing paper are inserted between the sheets to protect against smearing.
A smooth surface is definitely not suitable for dry pastels, but will be a good option for oil, wax or water-soluble. Thick paper is suitable for mixing colors and will not shine through like, for example, printer paper.
Craft paper varies from thin and almost translucent to dense and textured. The second option will be a good choice and is suitable for work with any type of pastel.
Art cardboard is the best choice for those who plan to exhibit the resulting work in the future. The rough base holds crumbly dry pastels well, but an incident can happen with oil, and it will leave greasy traces. Before large-scale work, paint flowers on a small piece of cardboard.
When talking about pastels, one cannot fail to mention canvas on cardboard. Painting technique is available when working with oil crayons. Bold strokes can mimic oil, or thinner can be used to create the effect of oil paints. How to store finished work? Finished pastel works require careful storage and transportation. To preserve the work in its original form, it is recommended to fix each drawing with a special fixative – a spray for dry materials (also suitable for pencil, charcoal). It is widely believed that it can be replaced with hairspray, but due to the different composition and applications, the pastel can change color, become pale, and the work itself can become sticky.
To check the reaction, they take a pastel paint, cover one half with paper, and spray the other half with a spray, and after drying, the result is compared with the “original” version. The fixative is often replaced by dividing the work with tracing paper or paper. The corners should be fixed with paper clips or clips to prevent friction between the sheets.
There are no ready-made universal techniques for working with pastels. Pastel is a plastic material that adapts to the needs of an individual artist and gives freedom in performance. There are a few general rules about consistency in work. The sketch is applied immediately with a pastel, and not with a graphite pencil – it will be visible under the final result and spoil the impression of the work.
The color of the crayon should be only a few tones different from the color of the paper or the finished work. The main forms are outlined with light strokes. Try to keep the drawing closer to the center, and the main element does not go beyond the borders of the sheet. It will be a shame if the house that enchanted the artist ends up without a roof or “hidden” in one of the corners of the sheet.
Under painting by color means applying primary colors to objects. At this stage, you should fill the sheet with color, slightly pressing on the crayon. To add volume, strokes should be applied and shaded according to the shape of the object. For the shadow, a shade darker than the main color is suitable, but if the palette is limited, then lightly apply black pastel and mix well, and white chalk is suitable for highlights and light parts.
Simple rules apply to work with any material, and following them guarantees an impressive result even for beginners. Pastel is a simple but multifaceted material that has an unlimited number of techniques. Beginners will easily develop their drawing style, and those already familiar with the material will always find a new direction.