10 Reasons to Love Pastel: A Plethora of Possibilities

Yes, I learned the word "plethora" from Three Amigos.  

There is some evidence that the earliest art created by humans was likely painted with an ancient version of pastels (think cave painting).  There is something about gripping that pastel stick in my hand that makes me want to scratch color on all kinds of things.

Pastel allows you to directly make your mark, with no brush getting between you and the color.
"Curiosi-Tea" 7 x 10 Pastel on Cardboard
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I've used pastel on many surfaces: textured pastel paper, watercolor paper, drawing paper, canvas, Canva-paper, and stationery and envelopes to name a few.  I can now add cardboard to the list.  

"Quiet Still Life" 9 x 12 Pastel on Cardboard
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I noticed that the texture of the cardboard itself makes a difference in the pastel's texture.  I also had to use fixative to keep the colors strong (particularly with the slicker cardboard I used for "Curiosi-tea").  I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to pick the cardboard up and carry it around with me (like I would a flat canvas), but definitely felt that there were times that the cardboard created more of a struggle with the application of the pastel.

I'm also becoming fond of Canson Canva-paper as a surface choice for the wet pastel sticks:

"Hummingbird" 12 x 16 Pastel on Paper
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I got a nice photo of a hummingbird that stopped among the flowers at a local school, and I wanted to capture the deep shadows and contrasting colors-- wet pastel sticks are great for getting deep shadows into a painting.

I love the scratchy texture of the Canson Canva-paper and the way it shows under some of the pastel.  It is difficult to get coverage of the white paper, so it takes many layers of water and pastel to fill in some of those whites.  The only real caveat I have for artists who want to try this paper is that I've had trouble getting good photos of the finished products.

If you're interested in the many surfaces available to those willing to experiment with pastel, check out my article on Empty Easel:

If you'd like to see more of my works created with wet pastel sticks, click here:


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