Discover How Pastels Are Made | Artistic Insights

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 14 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

Pastels are a fascinating artistic medium known for their vibrant colors and unique blending ability. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting your artistic journey, understanding the process of pastel making can deepen your appreciation for this versatile medium. In this article, we will explore the intricate steps involved in creating pastels, the characteristics that make them stand out, and the influence of pastel masters on the art world.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pastels are made by mixing pigment with chalk or clay and binder.
  • The resulting paste is hardened and shaped into various forms, such as soft or hard pastels, pastel pencils, or oil pastels.
  • Pastels are known for their wide range of colors, blending ability, and suitability for plein air painting.
  • Traditional pastel making involves handmade techniques, but artists can also choose from commercial pastel brands.
  • Switching from oils to pastels offers benefits such as pure colors, easy setup, and lack of drying time.

The Unique Characteristics of Pastels

Pastels are renowned for their wide range of colors and remarkable blending ability. Unlike other art media, pastels offer unique characteristics that make them a favorite among artists for creating breathtaking works of art. Whether you want to create broad, expressive strokes or precise, detailed lines, pastels can deliver the desired effect. Their versatility allows artists to explore a wide range of techniques and styles.

Creating stunning pastel colors is an art in itself. Instead of mixing colors like in other mediums, artists select and overlap pastel sticks to achieve the desired hues and tones. This layering technique gives the artwork depth and richness, resulting in vibrant, harmonious combinations.

To create truly captivating pastel art, artists rely on a diverse range of pastel art supplies. From a multitude of pastel sticks in various colors and hardness levels to pastel pencils and specialty pastel papers, the right tools are essential for unleashing your creativity. The interplay of different hues and textures allows for endless possibilities when it comes to expressing your artistic vision.

What started as a medium primarily used for studies has evolved into a highly regarded art form. Pastels have gained popularity among plein air painters and portraitists due to their portability and ease of use. Artists appreciate the convenience and freedom that pastels offer, allowing them to capture the beauty of their surroundings or the essence of their subjects with remarkable precision.

With this understanding of the unique characteristics of pastels, let’s explore the influence of pastel masters in the next section and discover the secrets behind traditional pastel making.

The Versatility of Pastels:

“Pastels offer a limitless range of possibilities for artists to create and express their artistic vision. The vibrant colors, blending ability, and layering techniques make pastels a favored medium among many renowned artists.”

Let’s take a closer look at some popular pastel art supplies:

Pastel Supplies Description
Pastel Sticks A wide range of soft and hard pastel sticks allows artists to achieve various levels of vibrancy and texture in their artwork.
Pastel Pencils Pastel pencils provide artists with greater control and precision when creating fine details or intricate outlines.
Pastel Papers Specialty pastel papers with their unique texture and tooth provide optimal surface grip for pastels, enabling effective color layering and blending.

The combination of these art supplies empowers artists to explore their creativity and push the boundaries of pastel art. Now that we understand the characteristics and tools of pastels, let’s delve into the fascinating world of pastel masters in the next section.

The Influence of Pastel Masters

Influential pastel artists, such as Jean Francois Millet, have left a lasting impact on the world of pastel art. These masters understood the unique characteristics of pastels and utilized them to create breathtaking works of art. One of the defining features of Millet’s pastel drawings was his use of broken strokes of color instead of extensive blending, which added texture and depth to his pieces.

“The charm and beauty of pastels lie in their ability to capture the essence of a subject through bold and expressive strokes of color.” – Jean Francois Millet

Millet’s pastel drawings showcased not only the possibilities but also the limits of the medium. They demonstrated that pastels can be used not only for creating realistic and detailed artworks but also for conveying emotion and evoking a sense of atmosphere. The influence of pastel masters like Millet continues to inspire artists today.

See also
Oil Pastel on Canvas Guide: Tips & Techniques

In the past, traditional pastel making involved creating a bespoke collection of pastels for specific projects. Each artist had their own unique set of pastels, carefully selected to meet their artistic vision. However, with the rise of commercial pastel brands, artists now have a wide range of options to choose from. They can experiment with different brands and find the ones that best suit their style and preferences.

Alternatively, artists can also make their own pastels using handmade techniques. DIY pastel making allows artists to have complete control over the color, texture, and hardness of the pastels they create. This level of customization enables artists to tailor their pastels to specific projects or explore unique artistic expressions.

Benefits of Handmade Pastels

Creating handmade pastels offers several benefits to artists:

  • Customizable: Artists can create pastels in any color and hardness they desire, giving them greater control over their artistic process.
  • Economical: Handmade pastels can be more cost-effective in the long run, as artists can create their own pastels using readily available materials.
  • Artistic Expression: Making one’s own pastels allows artists to add a personal touch to their artwork and experiment with different textures and effects.

Whether artists choose to use commercial pastel brands or create their own handmade pastels, the influence of pastel masters continues to inspire and shape the world of pastel art.

Comparison of Commercial Pastel Brands

Brand Price Range Color Selection Softness
Sennelier $$ Wide range Very soft
Rembrandt $$ Extensive Soft
Unison $$$ Limited Soft
Terry Ludwig $$$ Large palette Soft to hard
Great American $ Basic Medium soft

When choosing a commercial pastel brand, artists should consider factors such as price range, color selection, and softness. Each brand offers its own unique qualities, allowing artists to find the perfect fit for their artistic needs.

Transitioning from Oils to Pastels

Many artists choose to switch from oils to pastels due to the purity of colors, ease of setup, and lack of drying time. Pastels provide a unique artistic experience and offer a range of creative possibilities. One artist who made the transition is David Stout, a renowned pastel artist with a distinct style and approach.

Stout was seeking a medium that would allow him to maximize his limited art-making time. After exploring various options, he found that pastels aligned perfectly with his artistic vision. He appreciated the vibrant colors and smooth application that pastels provided.

In his practice, Stout prefers working with a limited number of pastels, carefully selecting specific brands that meet his requirements for color saturation and covering ability. His pastel kit consists of approximately 35 pastels, with the occasional use of pastel pencils for fine line work. By working with a focused palette, he is able to maintain control over his color choices and create harmonious compositions.

Throughout his journey with pastels, Stout has experimented with different grounds to find the one that best complements his artistic style. Eventually, he settled on the Sennelier Pastel Card, a high-quality surface that enhances the vibrancy and luminosity of his pastel paintings.

Tips for Transitioning:

  • Start with a small selection of high-quality pastels that suit your style and preferences.
  • Experiment with different surfaces and find the one that complements your artistic vision.
  • Study the techniques and approaches of experienced pastel artists to enhance your skills.
  • Embrace the unique characteristics of pastels, such as their blending ability and vibrant colors.
  • Allow yourself to explore and experiment with pastels to discover your own artistic voice.

Switching from oils to pastels can be an exciting journey of exploration and growth as an artist. The transition allows you to embrace the purity of colors, enjoy the ease of setup, and experience the immediate satisfaction of working with a medium that does not require drying time. By carefully selecting your pastel art supplies and experimenting with different techniques, you can create stunning artworks that showcase the unique qualities of pastels.

Lessons from Pastel Artists

When it comes to the world of pastels, artists like Marlene Wiedenbaum have discovered a newfound passion and share their valuable lessons with others through teaching. Wiedenbaum, an experienced pastel artist, appreciates the unique involvement of her hands and the direct connection she feels to her work. Having made the switch from oil to pastels, she emphasizes the ease of clean-up and the portability of this versatile medium.

One of the key principles Wiedenbaum imparts to her students is the importance of painting as oneself and exploring their own artistic voice. In the world of pastels, artists have the freedom to create their own unique color palette and experiment with blending techniques to create pastel colors that truly reflect their individual style.

“Painting with pastels allows artists to truly immerse themselves in the resplendent colors and tactile nature of their creations.” – Marlene Wiedenbaum

Wiedenbaum’s work serves as a testament to the beauty and expressiveness that can be achieved through pastel paintings. She effectively utilizes the layering techniques and traditional pastel making methods to create captivating scenes that evoke emotion and capture the essence of her subjects.

See also
Discover How to Color Oil Pastel Like a Pro

The art of creating pastels involves traditional pastel making techniques, where the pigment is mixed with chalk or clay and binder to form a paste. This paste is then molded into various forms such as soft or hard pastels, allowing artists to explore different techniques and achieve their desired artistic outcomes.

By following the guidance and teachings of experienced pastel artists like Marlene Wiedenbaum, aspiring artists can gain valuable insights into the world of pastels, learn to create their own pastel colors, and unlock their full artistic potential.

Painting as Yourself and Exploring Your Artistic Voice

One of the most significant lessons taught by artists like Marlene Wiedenbaum is the importance of painting as yourself and discovering your own artistic voice. Instead of replicating the work of others, embrace your unique style and experiment with different techniques to create pastel colors that resonate with your own artistic vision.

Traditional Pastel Making Techniques

Understanding the traditional pastel making techniques is essential for artists looking to explore the world of pastels. By learning how pastels are made and the different forms they can take, artists can effectively utilize the medium’s versatility to create stunning works of art.

Understanding Pastel Composition

Pastels are a unique artistic medium that offers a wide range of creative possibilities. To truly appreciate the art of pastels, it’s essential to understand their composition and the traditional process of making them. Handmade pastels have been used by artists for centuries, and their rich history adds to their allure and charm.

When it comes to pastel composition, powdered pigment is the primary ingredient. This pigment is combined with water and binder to create a paste-like consistency. The paste is then rolled into sticks and left to dry, resulting in the familiar form of pastels that artists use today.

The softness of pastels is determined by the ratio of pigment to binder. Soft pastels contain more pigment and less binder, giving them a creamy and velvety texture. On the other hand, hard pastels have a higher amount of binder, making them more firm and less crumbly.

Pastels are made using the same pigments found in other artistic mediums such as oil paints, watercolors, and acrylics. However, what sets pastels apart is the binder used to hold the pigments together. In traditional pastel making, a light glue or binder called methylcellulose is used to ensure the pigments adhere to one another.

In contrast, oil pastels have a different composition. They are made with a mixture of beeswax, pigment, and other chemicals, which gives them a creamy consistency and allows them to be applied smoothly on various surfaces.

The traditional process of creating pastels by hand not only showcases the craftsmanship and dedication of the artist but also ensures the quality and uniqueness of each pastel. Handmade pastels provide a distinct experience for artists, allowing them to have greater control over their work and explore the subtle nuances of color and texture.

Understanding the composition of pastels offers valuable insights into their vibrant colors, blending capabilities, and the creative possibilities they provide for artists.

Challenges of the 31in31 Pastel Challenge

The 31in31 Pastel Challenge is an ambitious undertaking that requires mental and physical preparation. Artists participating in the challenge need to gather the necessary art supplies, including ample paper and a wide range of pastel colors. They should also set up a dedicated and clutter-free workspace to enhance productivity. Creating a schedule and selecting subjects in advance helps artists stay on track and avoid decision fatigue. It’s important to focus on the process rather than the outcome and embrace imperfections. Breaking down the challenge into smaller sections and staying inspired through various sources of creativity can help artists navigate the challenge successfully.

Art Supplies Needed Tips for Success
  • Ample paper
  • Wide range of pastel colors
  • Pastel pencils for detailed work
  • Fixatives to preserve finished pieces
  • Set up a dedicated workspace
  • Keep your workspace clutter-free
  • Create a schedule and stick to it
  • Select subjects in advance
  • Focus on the process, not just the outcome
  • Embrace imperfections and learn from mistakes
  • Find inspiration from various sources

Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal during the 31in31 Pastel Challenge can be a valuable tool for artists. It allows you to document your artistic journey and reflect on your progress as you complete one pastel painting each day. Journaling provides a space for you to record your thoughts, inspirations, and challenges faced during the challenge, helping you stay motivated and track your growth.

By recording your experiences and observations, you can gain valuable insights into your artistic process and development. Journals serve as a personal record of your artistic journey, capturing the emotions, thoughts, and inspirations that fuel your creativity. They enable you to look back on your pastel paintings and reflect on the techniques you used, the color choices you made, and the progress you have made over time.

Moreover, journaling allows you to explore and experiment with traditional pastel making techniques. You can use your journal to document your exploration of handmade pastels and different pastel art supplies. Record the recipes and methods you try, along with their results, allowing you to refine your own process and create pastels that suit your unique artistic style.

See also
Oil Pastel Drawing Guide: Master Your Artwork!

Ultimately, keeping a journal during the 31in31 Pastel Challenge enhances your artistic development and deepens your engagement with the creative process. It not only helps you stay organized and focused on your daily paintings but also serves as a source of inspiration as you browse through your past entries. So grab your favorite pastel art supplies, embark on the challenge, and start journaling your way to artistic growth.

Testimonials:

“Keeping a journal has been instrumental in my artistic journey. It allows me to reflect on my growth, discover new techniques, and stay inspired throughout the 31in31 Pastel Challenge.” – Emily Thompson, Pastel Artist

Conclusion

The art of pastel making is an intricate process that involves creating a paste of pigment mixed with chalk or clay and binder. This paste is then shaped into various forms, including soft or hard pastels, pastel pencils, or oil pastels. The resulting pastels are renowned for their vibrant colors and exceptional blending abilities.

Using pastels effectively requires a wide assortment of pastel sticks and a keen sense of color layering. Artists must select specific colors and values or overlap strokes to create beautifully blended shades. The unique characteristics of pastels, such as their broad strokes and precise lines, offer artists unparalleled artistic possibilities.

Participating in challenges like the 31in31 Pastel Challenge can be a rewarding experience for artists. To navigate such challenges successfully, proper preparation and the right mindset are crucial. By gathering the necessary art supplies, setting up a dedicated workspace, and choosing subjects in advance, artists can overcome obstacles and fully immerse themselves in the creative process.

Whether you are a seasoned artist or a beginner looking to explore the world of pastels, understanding the process of pastel making and embracing the challenges can lead to beautiful creations. So grab your pastels, unleash your creativity, and enjoy the journey of making art with this vibrant and versatile medium.

FAQ

How are pastels made?

Pastels are made by combining powdered pigment with water and binder to create a paste. This paste is then rolled out into sticks and dried. The softness of pastels depends on the ratio of pigment to binder. Soft pastels use more pigment and less binder, while hard pastels have more binder. Oil pastels, on the other hand, are made with beeswax, pigment, and other chemicals.

What are the unique characteristics of pastels?

Pastels are known for their wide range of colors and blending ability. They can create broad strokes similar to oil paints or precise lines like any drawing implement. Unlike other media, pastels are not mixed together but rather selected or overlapped to create desired colors. Pastel art requires a wide range of pastel sticks and a strong understanding of color layering.

How have pastel masters influenced the art form?

Influential pastel artists, such as Jean Francois Millet, utilized the unique characteristics of pastels in their work. Traditional pastel making involved creating a collection of pastels for specific projects. Today, artists can make their own pastels using handmade techniques or choose from a variety of commercial pastel brands.

Why do some artists switch from oils to pastels?

Many artists choose to switch from oils to pastels due to the purity of colors, ease of setup, and lack of drying time. Pastel artist David Stout switched to pastels to maximize his limited art-making time. He works with a limited number of pastels and specific brands and prefers specific brands for their color saturation and covering ability.

What lessons can we learn from pastel artists?

Artists like Marlene Wiedenbaum have found a passion for pastels and share their lessons with others through teaching. Wiedenbaum encourages her students to paint as themselves and explore their own artistic voice. Her work reflects the resplendent colors and tactile nature of pastel paintings.

What is the composition of pastels?

Pastels are made by combining powdered pigment with chalk or clay and a binder. This paste is hardened and made into various forms such as soft or hard pastels, pastel pencils, or oil pastels. Pastels are made from the same pigment as other mediums like oil, watercolor, and acrylic, but they are held together with a light glue or binder called methylcellulose.

What are the challenges of the 31in31 Pastel Challenge?

The 31in31 Pastel Challenge is an ambitious undertaking that requires mental and physical preparation. Artists participating in the challenge need to gather the necessary art supplies, set up a dedicated workspace, and choose subjects in advance. Breaking down the challenge into smaller sections and staying inspired can help artists navigate the challenge successfully.

What are the benefits of keeping a journal during the 31in31 Pastel Challenge?

Keeping a journal during the 31in31 Pastel Challenge allows artists to document their artistic journey and reflect on their progress. It can help artists stay motivated, track their growth, and record their thoughts, inspirations, and challenges faced during the challenge. Journalling can be a valuable tool for self-reflection and artistic development.

How can I learn more about the pastel making process?

To learn more about the pastel making process, you can explore resources such as books, online tutorials, workshops, or classes. These resources can provide you with step-by-step instructions, tips, and techniques for creating your own pastels or using them in your artwork.