Pastels: A Vibrant and Immediate Medium

If you love to draw—or if you love pure colors, you will love working with pastels. They allow you to draw directly with color—they act almost like an extension of your fingers. It is a sensual experience; just look at what French impressionist Edgar Degas did with pastels!

These chalky pigments make it possible to get your images down on paper as fast as you can draw them. No brushes, canvases, or solvents to mess with, and no waiting for the paints to dry. They are immediate and fresh.


Getting started with this dry medium is easy: just open your box, clip a piece of paper to your easel, and you are ready to work!

The lure was such that I chose them as my first working medium after I 'graduated' from formal drawing classes. To start with, I bought a full set Rembrandt soft pastel—more than 200 sticks. I gradually added to them until I ended up with more than 1000 sticks from various brands. I'm warning you: the colors are addictive!

Although I later set them aside to concentrated on oil painting for a time, the drawing skills I developed from the years of working with this medium gave me an edge when learning oils. If you are working in oil, give them a try. The transition is easy, because the application method is very similar. They will complement your oil paints well.

If you just want to paint and draw at the same time, and you don't want to spend a lot of money to get started, then they are a good choice because of their low cost and ease of set up.

For more on pastels, see these pages:


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