Pastels are not just fancy crayons, they are the colorful means to a creative end. For artists who want to move beyond pencils but would rather not paint, pastels are a logical choice. Which types of pastels should beginners choose when when delving into pastel painting? There are different hardness levels, similar to pencils.
Pastel Painting: Pastel Types for Beginning Artists
Pastel Stick Shapes: Round or Square
Whether you choose round or square pastels will be determined by a few factors:
1. What is available in your local art store. Yes, you can order pastels online, but sometimes you need art supplies right now.
2. Which shape is more comfortable in your hands. The only way to find out is to try some out. Any art supply store worth their salt will have samples of their set out for you to try. The square pastel may feel awkward at first, since most writing utensils and paintbrushes are round. However, the square pastel stick will make different marks than a round one, when rubbed on its side, or the entire tip is used. Having some of both encourages the beginning pastel artist to experiment with the full range of pastel techniques.
3. Hardness Level: The shape of the pastel stick is a key to its hardness level. Round pastels are soft, and oil pastels usually come in the rounded form. Square pastels are hard.]
No one pastel type is better than another, they all have their pros and cons. Try each one and see which type suits your artistic style.
Pastel pencils are the top choice if you would rather draw than paint. A pastel paint offers the beginning artist more control over the color, they can be sharpened and they are sturdy. They are best for detailed work, realism and for beginning artists who don’t want pastel powder all over their hands.
Hard pastel sticks may be used to “pencil in” your under drawing. Similar to pencil the hard pastel lines, when drawn lightly can be erased, simply by rubbing it away like chalk. The hard pastel can be sharpened like a pencil and used to add fine details to the pastel painting in its final stages. Hard pastels won’t break easily, yet you can break them when you need a fine point. They can be combined with soft pastels or pastel pencils.
Soft pastel sticks blend effortlessly, which is their best quality. The flip side is soft pastels break more easily and need to be handled with a light hand. If your a vigorous artist, the soft pastel sticks may not hold up well unless you ease back on your strokes. They blend well, but they also smudge. Be aware of this tendency to smudge, and try to work across your painting in a way that your hand is not dragging across the lines you’ve already painted.
Oil Pastels are a completely different texture than the hard pastels. They are made with an oil binder and can produce thick lines and smooth paintings, without any powder. This type of pastel is sturdy and not as prone to breakage as soft pastels. Oil pastels offer beginning artists an easy way to paint landscapes outside, without the mess of oil painting that requires solvents.