Exercise: Painting with pastels


Pastel experiments with water and brush and acrylic

Practise making marks and blending with pastels. If you have time, use the techniques you’ve discovered to make a simple picture.

I experimented with soft pastels and Conté crayons and Conté pencils and tried blending them with a brush and water and also (separately) white acrylic paint.

I did a quick painting with pastel and water of two Art Deco ladies holding dishes above their heads (from a statue). It’s not great but I’m glad to have had a go and it leads me to think there may be more mileage in this Art Deco statue with an improved composition, perhaps a single lady  or three with their heights staggered and a little more overlapping of the images. There is something pleasing about the relationships of the repeated arms and legs.


Art deco ladies holding dishes – painted with pastel and water

Learning points

  • I enjoyed the experiments and the fact that when working with water  the pastel could be layered and was slightly transparent.
  • I had trouble with achieving any fine detail. I found that the Conté pencils didn’t blend in the same way as the crayons.
  • I and trouble achieving any density of colour but I guess this could be achieved by more patiently working with several more layers.
  • Different pastel colours can be mixed on the paper and create interesting ‘variegated’ tones.
  • I like the way painting with pastels enables you to use the ‘dust’ and work it into the picture.
  • A background of pastels washed  with water could  provide an good base for a drawing or painting with pastels.

When I I’ve bought some turpentine I’ll have a go with oil pastels. I’m sure the effect will be very different.



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