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What is pastel?
Which medium should I use?
Should I adhere my pastels?
How to protect my pastel works?
Please share your questions with us.

  What is pastel?  

The soft pastel stick is composed of powdered pigments linked together through a given amount of gum. Externally, it looks like a piece of chalk, though softer and smoother. An artwork realized with that stick is called a Pastel.

An artist using pastels is called a pastelist.



  Which medium should I use?  

Any paper medium is suitable as long it is neither too smooth nor too light. The important thing is the medium's surface which should be able to make pastel powder stick.

Watercolor paper is also suitable. You can dye the paper through application of wash drawing.

Traditional mediums
All "fine-art" papers prepared for pastel are suitable as well. There are a lot of them and each artist has to test in order to find the medium best suited to him/her.

Other mediums
Unlimited! Plywood, chipboard, cardboard, "kraft" wrapping paper, silk paper, piece of canvas, etc... Anything that comes to your imagination!



  Should I adhere my pastels?  

Three answers.

Negative effect on the mellowness of the texture, unwelcome lustre, color alteration, loss of tonalities. Moreover, the strength of pastel lies in the unchanging nature of the pigment. A fixative, because of its chemical nature, is going to change the nature of the pigment in the end. Also, particles of pastel powder may evolve during the adhering process.

- In case you wish to achieve a strong stickiness of the pastel pigments on the medium in spite of the alterations undergone by the surface.
- If you accept the metamorphosis of pure pastel.
In this case, you will tend to search for the ideal fixative and this search can lead the way to other adventures. You become familiar with the pastel pigments which may encourage you to intervene in their nature and to discover new riches such as mixed techniques.

Yes & No
A compromise for ensuring a stronger pigment stickiness without damaging the mellowness effect of pastel is the intermediate adhesion. In this case, the last pastel layer is not adhered. Moreover, adhering during the work process enables you to get material effects in the thickness. Degas worked often through successive layers of adhesion, sometimes many of them. This enabled him for example to use tracing paper as a medium.



  How to protect my pastel works?  

During transfers
One principle: no friction. When transporting, hold the pastel tight between two sheets of plywood.

Use the same kind of protection. You can store at least around twenty pastels between two sheets of plywood.

Use a frame of glass with a "passe-partout" 4 mm (0.16 inch) thick at least, so to prevent the work from coming into contact with the glass.