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Introduction to Pastel Painting

Pastel painting is represented by very few entries in contemporary art exhibitions.

The difficulty of fixing pastel has undoubtedly contributed to its decline in popularity.

Pastel paintings can be sprayed with a special fixatif (also spelt "fixative") at preliminary stages to keep them from smearing, but the final stage must be left unfixed if its delicate color is to be held.

This means that pastels must always be carefully framed under glass in order to preserve them.

Actually, the glass is necessary to protect the surface of the pastel rather than to preserve it, for, as a medium, pastel will outlast both water color and oil.

Pastel painting is popular with many portrait and figure painters, as a means of making both preliminary studies and final renderings, and the student of landscape will find pastels helpful in capturing passing effects, particularly clouds and skies.

Pastel is an excellent medium for quick notes on nocturnes, water reflections, and sunlight effects.

Many artists use pastel for making sketches and studies preliminary to painting in oil. Since it is a dry medium, changes are made easily and quickly.

The color of the paper used when working with pastel is often left untouched in many areas, particularly in backgrounds.

This, along with a direct handling method that reveals all the strokes of the modeling, has led many students to think of pastel as a drawing rather than a painting medium.

However, pastel can be applied in such a manner that all the paper is covered and a painting effect results.

Despite its relative lack of popularity, I suggest that you experiment with pastels.

It has great possibilities and you may make the pleasant discovery that pastel is ideally suited for recording ideas that may become important oil and water color paintings.

More Articles on Painting with Pastels:

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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