Pastel Painting Techniques
More than meets the eye
There are a number of pastel painting techniques you can use to get the
most out of your pastels. Once you master them, you can work the medium with perfect confidence and very good
results. Given below are some of the pastel painting techniques that seasoned artists use in their interesting
Pressure is the primary technique while doing a pastel painting.
The depth and richness of your painting are decided by the volume of pressure you make on the pastel. Experiment on
various kinds of supports and paper till you can understand how pastel adheres to the surface under different
circumstances. You have to really spend a lot of time with the medium to get yourself acquainted with
Begin a painting with light strokes first because in a pastel
painting the stroke is of paramount importance. The end result depends on the manner in which an artist makes
strokes on the surface of the picture.
As a beginning you can experiment with two basic drawing techniques.
Firstly, experiment with both with line as well as degrees of line thickness. Secondly apply short
pointed marks with the sides of the pastel.
The technique known as hatching is a set of parallel lines,
preferably fine lines drawn closely together on your pastel paper. To enhance on this you have
cross-hatching which is drawing a second set of lines at an angle normally at right angles to the first
In the technique of layering, this is applying pastels
one upon the other in layers. This gives a depth and richness to the painting. This is where the fixative can be
used. Before adding another layer to a previous layer you spray the fixative over the lower layer. You can repeat
this with each layer. Pastel strokes make powdery layers which might get disturbed unless the fixative is
Another pastel painting technique is under-painting. You can freely
combine pastel with water color in a painting. By making an underlining to your painting with a wash of color, you
make a painting really stand out.
One good way to make such an underlining is by crushing a little soft
pastel into powder and mixing it with water. Using a large brush you can spread the watercolor wash onto the
surface of the painting. The more important areas of the subject are indicated by either flat or subtly graded
washes. You must select the color of this wash care for this color will hold the various factors of the painting
together. For instance, you can impart a warm mood and tone to the whole painting by using a warm color like
orange. This under-painting shows through the finished painting, giving it a touch of unity to the
Now let’s turn to the technique of blending. It is a technique in
which a painting can be rendered more beautiful. You can blend colors using fingers or any blending tool of which
there are a wide variety for example paper tools such as the tortillon, and paper stump; putty (or kneaded)
rubbers, cloths, and cotton wool (balls or buds) and any other tool which can come from using your
When an artist blends side strokes along an existing background it is
This is achieved after a layer of pastel has been applied and fixed, then lightly dragging a soft pastel on its
side across the top. The effect is a broken covering of the new color over the top.
Scraping the pastel over a painted surface is known as dusting the
color. These flecks are then pressed to the paper surface.
Making small dots all about the surface of the painting is the fine but
difficult technique of pointillism.
These are the more important pastel painting techniques. Master the
art of applying pastels and you are on the way to painting that masterpiece you have always dreamed