Pastel is an ancient medium of powdered pigment held together with a binder. Let us suggest that the earliest pastelists were cave painters circa. 30,000 BCE.
The first historical reference to the term appears via Leonardo da Vinci whose experimental ways led to its use in his work.
We most commonly associate the medium with the 19th c. Impressionists including Mary Cassatt…
…and her mentor, Edgar Degas.
It appears in the work of contemporary masters Francesco Clemente and R.B Kitaj among others and is currently pretty popular.
The term pastel comes from the Latin meaning “paste”. Pastel refers to a broad category of dry media including oil pastel, conte and charcoal.
Chalk pastels come in varying degrees of hardness which depends on the quantity and quality of binder used in their manufacture.
We like pastels because they avail saturated nearly pure pigment.
Top row: Hard, medium-hard, soft, super-soft.
Bottom row: Vine charcoal, conte pastel pencils, oil pastels.
Other materials involved in the pastel process include tinted and textured papers, fixative,
We are approaching our first work observing an achromatic still -life.
We want to tune in to light first before we dive into color.
We make a grisaille or gray-scale drawing first and then glaze/ scumble just one color over top for a monochromatic study. Pay attention to pressure.
Repeat this process. Possible variations include cool dark blue, burnt sienna, umber or cool green for the initial grisaille with one color (and its tints, tones and shades) to glaze over top which relates harmonically to the under-drawing.
- tape your paper down to a rigid support
- tone your paper with a dulled medium value of your dominant color or its complement
- fix between layers