Chalk pastel artwork is one of my preferred mediums – being more of a drawing art form than a painting one. Here I try to explain how to use soft pastels.
Soft Pastel Techniques
The methods on how to use chalk pastels are varied. It allows me to smudge and blend where required to create a soft muted look. On the other hand, you can achieve individual strokes, creating fur movement, as well as do hard highlights. This makes soft pastel techniques very versatile.
How to use soft pastels is dependent on good quality materials. The better the quality the better the end result.
Chalk pastel drawings should be done on an abrasive base which collects and holds the color. Therefore using pastel paper that has a grain or “tooth” for the chalk to adhere to and hold the pigment in place is advisable.
You can spray lightly with a pastel fixative to prevent smudging and hold the chalk in place when your drawing is complete. A lot of people spray in layers and build the drawing up slowly.
This is not a hard-wearing medium and has to be handled carefully to prevent bending the paper and smearing the artwork.
Finished drawings made with soft chalk pastels do require protecting with artworks needing to be properly mounted and framed under glass. Make sure that the glass does not touch the artwork after framing.
How To Use Soft Pastels On Paper
I use Artists’ Soft Pastels chalk sticks by Winsor & Newton to create my pastel drawings.
They have a beautiful color range and the texture is always consistent. This allows you to create and draw without having to worry about the product you are using.
Pastel Pencil Art
Conte a Paris pencils are a different format of pastel that I make use of. These pastel pencils have a smooth core with lovely rich pigments. They are very useful for getting into your drawing to achieve the fine detail you may require.
The benefit of using these is nice clean hands. Just be careful not to drop them on the floor as the pastel leads do break.
They are great for sketching your pastel pencil drawings as well as creating very detailed work. These pencils may also be included in your pencil drawings basics kit for sketching and drawing.
Great for when you are out in the field and need a quick finger blending tool!
Chalk Pastel Paper
The pastel paper I prefer is also from the Winsor & Newton range of products.
Generally, I purchase the Lana Range of Tints Pastel Paper which has a grained surface with a 160gsm weight. They are 55cm x 75cm in size which is very useful as you can use the whole sheet or cut it down to the exact size and format you want to use.
The range of colors is endless which makes it interesting, and easy, to choose the right color for your subject matter.
Winsor and Newton also supply pastel paper in pads of various sizes. The range of colors is extensive and perfect for artists on the move and sketching out in the field.
Learning how to use soft pastels is very easy if you have a solid drawing background and have dabbled in color pencils.
Give it a try and see how you like it!