Art Terms Explained: Pastel Painting

Art Terms Explained: Pastel Painting

In some cases the wide amount of terminology we come upon as artists can be baffling. The exact words and phrases can have distinct meanings when referencing distinctive supplies and mediums. In this instalment of the ‘Art Conditions Explained’ sequence, we share the definitions of some frequently-employed phrases and phrases in the context of pastel portray.



You may occur throughout this expression in pastel portray in the context of pastel papers and card. Pastel Papers and playing cards range appreciably in their texture. Extremely abrasive surfaces are recognized to have a hefty tooth which is attractive for many pastellists mainly because it holds colour in position which allows for the layering of numerous colors.



Acetone is a solvent, which suggests it can crack down or dissolve substances like paint and varnish. In pastel portray it is used to aid the mixing of gentle pastels.


Finest High quality Smooth Pastels

The ideal excellent pastels will have the purest and brightest wanting colours, and they will have more sticks made with solitary pigments. They have the the best possible proportion of pigment to binder in their formulation, and are also assembled with a light-weight touch to guarantee a texture that permits the colour to come off on to the paper smoothly and effortlessly.


Pastel painting



Binder is an component that is combined with pigments to make pastels. For oil pastels a wax binder is made use of (together with a non-drying oil) and for delicate and difficult pastels, differing quantities of a gum and/or clay is employed.



Compared with paints that are blended on a palette, different colors and shades of pastels are blended directly on the surface area of the paper or card. Blending is the technique of mixing two or far more colours collectively by layering them flippantly on best of each other and then smudging them into 1 yet another utilizing your hand or a tool. Mixing liquids can also be employed to assist blending. Mixing procedures vary relying on the sort of pastel made use of.


Mixing Liquid

A wide variety of liquids can be utilized to gentle pastel to aid blending, like drinking water, rubbing liquor, acetone, and oil portray solvents. Tip: normally check that the surface you are functioning on is resistant to your selected liquid.



Chalk is a tender and porous substance that is a sort of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. It is sometimes applied as a filler in soft pastels (usually all those of mid-vary good quality), though it is also a drawing substance in its personal appropriate.


Chamois Leather-based

Chamois leather is a variety of porous leather-based. Ordinarily it was the pores and skin of the chamois, a type of mountain goat, but currently it is almost generally manufactured from sheepskin. It is a handy mixing instrument for pastel portray, and can also be used to carry colour by applying tension.


Coated Papers

A kind of pastel paper that is coated with a texture which could be gentle microfibres, recognized as velour, high-quality cork particles, or grit. Coated papers hold a lot more layers of pastel than uncoated papers, and distinctive varieties of coating have an impact on the visual appeal of pastel marks. If you desire to use water (or drinking water-based paint) or liquor on a paper with a glued-on coating then you will need to be absolutely sure your solvent won’t reverse the glue, so seem for water-proof or alcohol-evidence papers.


Colour Shaper

A colour shaper is a style of software utilised in pastel portray that appears like a paintbrush, nevertheless instead of hairs at the conclusion you will locate a silicone nib. These appear in various shapes and dimensions which permit you to attract, paint and mix with pastels that have now been utilized to your surface.



A sort of challenging pastel with a sq. cross-area, invented by French artist and polymath Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755-1805), and manufactured by Conté à Paris. These are now made from white kaolin clay and a binder (cellulose ether).


Pastel painting


Cross Hatching

A procedure utilized to generate tonal or shading effects by drawing carefully-spaced parallel traces.


Dry Fixing

Dry fixing is a method of securing your pastel marks to your surface so that they can no lengthier be rubbed off or blended any even more. It includes urgent down on the surface of your perform with a piece of glassine. This is also recognised as strain repairing.



Smooth pastel is a dusty medium, loose dusty materials gathers on the floor of the paper and also the desk and flooring. Any dusty make a difference is not great to breathe, so some care need to be taken when using delicate pastels. Do not blow the surplus pastel off the paper, alternatively tap and wipe it away. A few easels appear with the skill to tilt the best somewhat ahead of the base so that dust falls absent, off of the painting. You can tape large masking tape sticking out from the lower ledge, experience up, to capture dust. People with bronchial asthma or other breathing issues need to most likely have on a dust mask. Pastel dust is the reason some pastel artists change from tender pastel to oil pastel.


Fantastic High quality Comfortable Pastels

Soft pastels that are regarded as ‘excellent’ top quality may well contain additional binder, producing them significantly less crumbly but also significantly less remarkably-pigmented than the ‘Best Quality’ gentle pastels. Soft pastels that are thought of ‘excellent’ excellent might also feel much more uniform in shape than some of the greatest excellent gentle pastels that have been hand-rolled. Having said that, some skilled painters basically choose the attributes of the lesser pastels – a firmer pastel will be simpler to management, and so they are valuable for drawing great traces and intricate information.




A fixative is a resolution that is utilized to pastel paintings to secure the operate as devoid of it the colour stays smudgeable. It is a clear liquid that is usually manufactured of resin equivalent to varnish ordinarily sprayed on to a dry media artwork to stabilise the pigment on the floor and to protect concluded artwork from smudging. You can apply fixative to guard layers whilst you are performing as well as to finished perform. Most fixative arrives as an aerosol and need to be sprayed the place you have good ventilation. Degas Spectrafix is a drinking water-based, pump action, casein fixative that is quite popular.



The use of a pastel, pencil, charcoal or graphite bar to just take a rubbing from a textured surface. For illustration, by implementing pastel on to paper that is laid around a leaf to pick up the patterns and textures.



Glassine paper is a super-sleek, closely compressed, slim, translucent paper created with really refined pulp that can be employed to protect the surface of dry media artworks from smudging all through storage, shipping and delivery, in pads or in books. Resistant to grease, air and drinking water, it is acid-free of charge to ensure archival safety. It is not the exact same thing as waxed paper or greaseproof paper. It is smoother than tissue paper.


Pastel painting



In pastel painting, ‘ground’ refers to an acrylic primer with good grit additional that can be utilized to fairly a lot any surface area. When dry, it is an ideal texture on which to utilize soft pastel. Most pastel grounds dry with a light sandpaper-like texture, and some occur in a huge range of colours and a collection of textures.


Pastel painting


Gum Arabic

A gum components manufactured from the gum of the Acacia tree, it is in some cases used as an component in the binder of pastels and pencils. The more substantial the amount of gum arabic, the more challenging the drawing material (and as a result the lighter the mark that it will make).


Gum Tragacanth

A h2o-soluble gum usually applied in the binder of tender pastels, equally to Gum Arabic.


Really hard Pastels

Hard pastels are a style of pastel stick that tends to make extra crisp marks than smooth pastels. This makes them far better for producing fantastic strains and details as they do not crumble or smudge as simply. Nevertheless, their firmness usually means they do not mix quickly and it is more demanding to layer colours more than 1 a further. They can be utilised along with smooth pastels and other drawing and portray media.



The approach of building up thick levels of color. Oil pastel is the medium best suited to impasto methods inside of the approach of pastel painting.


Ingres Pastel Paper

Named after the Neoclassical French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Ingres paper is a textured paper produced for pastel drawing. Ingres paper is the oldest, most classic pastel paper out there. It is fantastic for comprehensive operate and is also suited for use with coloured pencil, graphite and charcoal. On the other hand, It is not major plenty of to endure wet media programs with no buckling paper weights in between brand names range from 100gsm-160gsm. It tends to be grained only on one particular side and the paper generally has incredibly refined color flecks on its area. It is at times also acknowledged as ‘Laid Paper’ (See down below)



Laid Paper

Laid papers have a clean, finely ribbed surface area, as a end result of the manufacturing processes. Ingres paper is a identify used broadly for laid paper.



This refers to the degree to which a color will fade or discolour as a final result of exposure to natural sunlight.



A special system which dissolves gentle pastel colour to assist obtain clean results and for mixing/colour mixing strategies. It usually contains alcoholic beverages.


Mid-array Comfortable Pastels

Mid-array soft pastels are very good excellent tender pastel brands that are best for checking out the medium devoid of compromising also substantially on high quality. The pigment saturation of these sticks will be weaker and the regularity of the sticks themselves are firmer. Even so this indicates that the pastels will past for a noticeably longer quantity of time than the great and ideal high quality pastels. The firmness of mid-selection comfortable pastels is attributed to the larger sum of binder made use of in their manufacturing. Some also use chalk in their binder which affects the way that the colors seem and the dealing with of the sticks.


Non-drying Oil

Unlike oil paint, which uses a drying oil that will harden by absorbing oxygen, oil pastels are manufactured with mineral oil, a non-drying oil, which never ever hardens. This implies that the color will stay smudgeable, so the do the job is generally framed behind glass.


Oil Pastel

Oil pastels are a style of pastel stick manufactured of pigments certain in a non-drying oil and wax binder. In contrast to smooth pastels, oil pastels are creamier in their regularity,and they differ in texture from hard wax to comfortable and creamy like a lipstick.. They are favoured around comfortable pastels by some artists because they are substantially considerably less dusty. They are also very multipurpose and can be employed with other mediums this sort of as acrylic and oil paints, blended making use of solvents, and they can even be melted for use with encaustic portray strategies.



PanPastels are skilled delicate pastel colours packed in a practical and compact pan, permitting them to be combined and used like paint, utilizing sponge instruments. Their design usually means they are quickly transportable.


Pastel painting


Paper Stumps

A stump is a cylindrical device created of gentle paper pulp applied for blending on the floor of the drawing or portray, as a substitute of applying your finger. See also tortillion. It makes it possible for you to move pastel around as soon as used, drive it additional into its surface, and allow for you to mix colors alongside one another.


Pastel Brush

Pastel brushes are made use of to mix soft pastels, PanPastels and graphite powders. They have quick hair and a ‘stubby’ shape to the brush head. They are different to PanPastel applicators, which are designed from foam.


Pastel Paper

Paper produced especially for pastel portray will have some texture or tooth for the pastel particles to get caught in. Most drawing paper is far too sleek and the pastel will just wipe off. The three standard texture teams are: laid paper, vellum-end paper and coated paper. In addition to the texture, there are other attributes of pastel paper to take into account these types of as colour, fibre content, the weight of the paper and if it can acquire the software of liquids such as drinking water, alcohol or white spirits. Pastel paper is normally colored due to the fact bits of the paper may perhaps clearly show via the pastel marks, so the paper’s color will drastically have an impact on the glance of the painting. The paper can also occur mounted on card or board for a sturdy painting surface area. Pastel is the medium that is most impacted by the floor it is painted on. The paper you choose to perform on will significantly impact the marks you are in a position to make and the final search of your painting


Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils are gentle pastel colors encased in wooden. They provide a cleaner option signifies of functioning with tender pastel colour – as you do not have to hold the content specifically with your hand. They can also be sharpened like an everyday pencil, indicating they are a fantastic way to incorporate detail to paintings.



A pigment is finely floor color built both in a laboratory or from the natural way coloured rocks. Pigment is one of the major substances of pastels, together with several binders.



Putty Eraser

A kind of gentle eraser manufactured from a squishy putty content that can be applied to raise absent colour. It is effortlessly kneadable and can be shaped into much more precise factors for detailed function.


Rubbing Alcoholic beverages

Rubbing alcoholic beverages is either an isopropyl liquor or an ethanol-dependent liquid. In pastel portray, it is used as a mixing liquid.


Sanded Paper

A variety of coated paper, this paper has fine grit glued to the floor. Given that the grit is significant, the surface area that it is glued to is typically card. Some makes have a array of grit coarseness. Acquiring more tooth on the floor permits more pastel colour to be crafted up in the crevices. This also suggests that you will go by pastel a lot quicker as the grit eats absent at the pastel immediately. Numerous advanced pastel artists only use sanded paper.


Scraping Out

This is a approach which consists of employing a really hard tool or implement – such as a palette knife, blade or brush cope with – to scratch away comfortable pastel color to reveal the area beneath.



Sfumato refers to enabling tones and colors to shade gradually into just one a further, manufacturing softened outlines or hazy forms.



This refers to the shininess of a surface. Oil pastels create a waxy sheen, while gentle pastels are typically matte.


Sofft Instruments (Micro-pore Sponges)

Specifically-created applications for making use of PanPastel colour. They consist of a take care of that has a shaped sponge nib on the end. These resources can also be utilized to implement a selection of drinking water dependent media like watercolour, acrylic, and ink.



Gentle Pastels

A gentle pastel is a adhere of dry color that is held in the hand and utilized to a paper that has ample texture to hold the powdery marks. Due to the fact pastel colours are unable to be mixed like paint, the artist usually calls for a massive assortment of colors to function with, so that they have the colour they need to have. Colors can be layered and blended on the surface area of the painting with fingers or different resources, but some artists leave the marks unblended for the reason that they are more dynamic. Since there is no brush amongst the hand and the color, they are well-liked with artists for their immediacy.



This refers to pastels that appear in a stick-formed format, like a crayon, as opposed to pencils or in pans.




Tooth is how we explain the textured high quality of pastel paper as unique models and kinds of papers have various levels of tooth. The tooth of the floor will hold the color in put.



Tortillions are incredibly identical to Paper Stumps, besides that they are made from tightly rolled paper that is tougher, and stiffer. They arrive in a assortment of sizes and are commonly much more compact than a stump. They are employed for bending on the surface of the paper alternatively of a finger. They are additional pointed than a stump and superior for small regions.


Vellum-End Paper

As distinguished from vellum paper which is an historic translucent paper made of calfskin or its present day vegetable vellum replacement, a vellum complete is a texture on the floor of paper to give it a moderate tooth and a subtle, even surface area of peaks and valleys. The embossed texture can variety from the wonderful texture of an eggshell to a more dimpled surface area like tough watercolour paper. Usually one side is smoother than the other so you have a selection of which texture to use. It is one particular of the a few groups of textures accessible in pastel paper, the other individuals being coated paper and laid paper.


Velour Paper

A form of coated paper that is extremely gentle and feels like velvet cloth. It is designed with extensive fibres glued to the surface. Pastels will glide above the surface area very easily, letting for major sweeping gestures. The softness of the surface retains on to a lot of color and marks. It is advisable mostly for the use of delicate pastels.


H2o Soluble

If some thing is drinking water soluble, then it is capable of dissolving in drinking water. Pastels range in their solubility in h2o.



Further more Studying

Artwork Phrases Described: Watercolour Painting

Art Terms Defined: Oil Portray

Every little thing You Have to have to Know About Pastel Paper

Working with Smooth Pastels for Observational Drawing


Store Pastel Painting on