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Pastels (30 minute ART)
Good equipment will help you to get good results and will also make the job easier, but there is no point in setting yourself up with so much equipment that you don't know where to start. That takes up valuable time, and the less decision making you have to do, the more time you have for concentrating on the job—which is painting!
Always think carefully about what you really need. When you come home from a painting session outdoors, always put the things you actually used to one side and what you didn't use to the other—you will be shocked at what you have just hauled around for nothing, and you will be more selective next time.
Whether they are soft or hard, pastels are a dry medium. The only exception is oil pastel, which is oil-based and, therefore, feels greasier. It can he diluted with only turpentine.
Soft, hard, and pastel pencils are all compatible with each other and have their own advantages that complement the others.
The softer brands of pastel, such as Sennelier and Daler-Rowney, have a high percentage of pure pigment held together by binders and can feel crumbly or creamy in texture. They are ideal for solid color applications in painting techniques and for filling in large areas quickly.
Harder brands, such as Conté Carres or Prismacolor NuPastel, have less pigment, with fillers, such as clay or kaolin, added and binders to hold them together. Because they provide a finer point, they are ideal for sketching and drawing detail.
The pastel content inside these pencils tends to be of a harder consistency, otherwise they would break too easily. They are ideal for sketching without being messy, easy to carry, and excellent for detail work. They are best sharpened with a craft knife to expose the pastel core, then used on their side to work into a point.
There are many types of ideal surfaces for pastel, including papers and boards, but all must offer a reasonable "tooth" in order for the pastel to grip well, which helps to avoid smudging. From slight weaves to abrasive sandpapers, the surface plays an important role in pastel painting and has to suit the quantity of pastel being applied—a thick application of soft pastels needs an abrasive surface to grip the medium well, whereas a lighter weave paper is sufficient for sketching with hard pastels or pencils.
It would be easy to load yourself down with all the best equipment, including an easel, stool, parasol, and table, as well as the full range of top-quality pastels, but that would take about 30 minutes to set up! I have a telescopic easel that leaps into position quickly, with a shelf to hold my tray of chosen pastels, hard and soft, and a board with a folder attached that also holds my papers and finished works in place. I leave the rest of my equipment at the studio for longer painting sessions.Pastels (30 minute ART). Copyright © by Margaret Evans. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.