Development of pastel media started in the middle of 16th century. A the very beginning this medium was used only for drawing sketches, and only in 19th century it started to be used as an independent media for portrait painting. This medium is applied dry on paper and allows to achieve soft tones and colors.
Types of pastel
The pastel mostly consists of color pigment and a basis - chalk or a clay. There are four main types of pastels, each used for different goals:
- soft pastels;
- hard pastels;
- oil pastel;
- pastel pencils.
Soft pastel is the most popular type. Artists appreciate it because of its bright colors and ability to be smoothed with gum or just finger. This medium is easy to apply and it doesn’t require a pressure to paint, but it needs a fixating cover to protect it from damage. To add some more details, artists often use pastel pencils. They look just like “common” pencils but don’t break and allow to paint thick bright strokes.
Use of pastel in the art
Artists tend to divide pastel painting and drawing: if the artwork is covered by pastel only partly, it is a drawing, and fully painted artwork is called painting. The pastel can be used in a mixed media paintings together with chalk, pencil and even various paints.
Artists started to widely use this medium for portrait painting in the 18th century. In 19th century, after experiments with this media by Impressionist Edgar Degas, pastel became popular, and some artists even gathered in groups where they worked only with pastel. For example, in 1898 Edgar Degas, August Rodin and several other painters established UK’s Pastel Society and concentrated on developing this media.
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