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What Supplies Do You Need for Pastel Painting?

By Artfang, guest blogger

Often you see pastel paintings in exhibitions and wonder how the artist arrived at the finished product?

PENCIL – When you go to a shop to choose pastels they often appear quite gaudy colours or very dull, so I think people are often unsure which to choose.

As a contemporary artist I would say you are better not to choose too many colours to start with. In our modern times you can choose ready selected boxes to suit a certain type of subject. It rarely happens that you need to use all the colours in the box.

Generally you are better to choose just a few colours that you know you will use. For example – initial colours for say landscapes, a nice variety of different greens, but some neutral colours maybe to blend in or to highlight various areas.

PALETTES – You are the artist so you need to choose wisely, but generally, I personally would include the following: Cadium Yellow, French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Olive Green, Crimson Lake, White, Lamp Black and perhaps another shade of yellow and red. There are also different variations of pastels, so this has to be taken into the equation.

OIL – These do not crumble, but you cannot mix them with other pastels. On the other hand they are nice because they do not smudge easily, superb for fine work, because they do not crumble.

SOFT – These are crumbly, colourful, they smudge, are nice to blend with and will cover quite large spaces.

HARD – Easy to erase, not so crumbly and great for first sketches.

I am a contemporary painter and would recommend to you that it is better to pay a tiny bit more for your paints if you wish for your work to last well. The pigments are normally better and therefore less likely to fade. If you want to keep your pastels clean keep them in a box.

However cover the box inside with ground rice. The roughness of the rice rubs against the pastels, it cleans any dirt they may have picked up which they often get from rubbing against each other. Clearly you need to wipe them over before you use them.

Usually a lot of people just keep them in a box lined with corrugated paper or in improvised supermarket package trays. It is often better to work with your painting on a tilt as then, specks of the pastels that crumble will simply drop off.

Last but not least it is better to have your paper secured to a board wider than the paper you are using.

Make sure to take time to choose the paper you use and most important of all – enjoy your art!…

Pastels are generally a good medium to start painting with and everyone has to start at some place. They are easily accessible to the general public to buy, whether in the stores, art shops or maybe a local stationers. They vary in price considerably, but some sell on the market really cheaply.

So there is something within the range of all pockets. Adults and children alike love experimenting with them, they take up little space so they are so easy to carry on your person together with a small sketchbook.

This article was written by Anna Meenaghan of

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