View Full Version : Do I blend?

07-14-2003, 09:46 AM
Hey everyone,

I want to start pastels but I have a feeling a certain technique I use with graphite might not go down so well with pastel. Is it ok to blend with pastel?

Back in highschool... I used to love making a mess with pastels... only problem was we were pretty much taught to stick our fingers in and smudge to our hearts content. However I have this feeling that coming to WC and telling that to professional pastellists is going to cause some shocked responses lol

I've seen some threads in the hall of fame about blending and its still a little unclear. What is everyones opinion of blending and what technique/materials do you each use to do so?

Would love some advice :)

07-14-2003, 09:56 AM
Blend if you feel like it i say:D

in fact why not get a sheet of pastel paper and try and find as many ways as you can to blend, try you fingers, try a tissue in fact experiment with what ever you can find and if you remember to have fun you will learn loads i promise.

07-14-2003, 09:58 AM
Yeah you're right. Probably the best tip for anyone starting any new medium... just jump in and experiment. Just hope I dont get too much pastel dust in my bed... I read in one of the stickys that its a little toxic haha I really need an easel :)

07-14-2003, 11:16 AM
Harmony - of course you can blend. It is a recognised pastel technique, and no-one is going to be shocked or horrified! I am a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, and I am not shocked at all!

What I would say, tho, is that if you blend exclusively, then you are missing out on the marvellous range of techniques available to the pastel painter, and limiting yourself dramatically.

However.....it's entirely up to you what you do!


07-14-2003, 11:22 AM
Thanks for that Jackie :) I do feel more confidently blending... although my blending could probably be mistaken for just smudging haha I have never really had much practice with other techniques... and my last attempt at cross hatching in my 1st and only ink drawings was terrible. But I am going to go to the library hopefully this week and get a bit stack of art books which will help me learn other techniques too.

Craig Houghton
07-14-2003, 12:05 PM
Not sure how much this will help, but I have found that I am far less satisfied with the paitning when I blend towards the final stages. There's nothing like strong applications of pastel to bring out the highlights or add colors to the shadows.

I tend to use blending on the basic forms to save material and time, and then use other techniques to build up from there.

Also, I find things look a bit off when I blend a lot on one area of a pic, and leave more definition in other areas -- this seems obvious, but it's an actual temptation in landscapes where one may want to lay down a soft sky with blending while using other techniques for the earthly portions. I find that this tends to destroy the unity a bit.

Either way, blending is definitely useful. But, if you're already used to blending with other mediums, I'd try something fresh like broken color with the pastels.

Hope that helps a bit,

07-14-2003, 12:28 PM
lol, there is something definately satisfying blending with your fingers with pastels....... but I wouldnt say to do it alllllllll the time, sometimes something calls for it....... other times not.....
One thing I have noticed that it does tend to dullen the vibrancy

...... have fun what ever you do...... and its always good to try something new

07-14-2003, 01:06 PM
Everyone's posted very good advice, so I'm dropping my 1 3/4 cents. Usually I try my best not to do any blending, or at least as little as possible. I did airbrushing for 15 years and one bad thing attached to it was it looked plastic, which is why I always went back and textured my work with erasers and pencils.

When I do a personal piece, I don't blend pastels at all, maybe the background to save the stick and my lungs. Depending on the brand, some will give you a not-blended, but softer feel like Schminke. I use Nupastel for initial rendering and sharp details, Rembrandts for the majority, and Schminke for final coverage. I don't have experience with other brands to comment.

For commission portraits, I tend to blend more because of the client's taste. They are afraid of "hairy looking" children. I think clients are more comfortable with the blende look, as they may think it looks more realistic.

I've only used pastels for the last two years, and am very satisfied with them. Good luck!

07-14-2003, 01:50 PM
There are no rules............experiment and find your way........blend, not blend, wet or dry, oil or dust, maybe you can even discover a new and personal method of your own.......

07-14-2003, 03:17 PM
There you go Harmony... lots of advice for you... at the end of the day, you do what suits you personally, develop your own unique style.

Good luck,

07-14-2003, 10:32 PM
Thankyou all so much for your advice and sharing your own preferences with me. I think the easiest thing for me at this stage is to perhaps stick with what I know for a little while... get a bit more familiar with using pastels, then gradually work into different pastel techniques. And then from that, develop a technique or techniques that suit my idea of what I like best.

A friend and I went to a pastellist society meeting locally several months ago, before I started getting back into art. At the time, pastels definately were my inspiration. We just happened to be there when they were judging a yearly pastellist of the year award and the work there was beyond amazing. Neither of us could believe such detail could be done with pastels and i think in a way it scared me out of trying sooner, as I didnt think I would ever reach that level. I probably wont but at least I'm going to give it a go.

Thankyou everyone for your advice. I appreciate it very much :)

07-15-2003, 12:28 AM
Harmony...don't scare yourself before you start...you have NO IDEA what you are capable of...1/2 of creating art is the dream...you just have to make it happen...seriously too, if you don't try different things then you won't see whether they'll work for you. I'm doing oil pastels but I blended on soft if it was called for and I blend on oil pastels too...but sometimes I incorporate the principle of side by side strokes and blend between them since I like soft transitions. Get in there and play and before you know it someone will be looking at YOUR work in awe!

07-15-2003, 01:05 AM
Thanks Dyin... however it might take me half a century before I start inflicting looks of awe upon others lol But I am defiantely going to try different techniques. I have a feeling it'll be hard for me to resist the urge to blend for a while but hopefully I can progress into the stage where I can control my fingers :)

07-15-2003, 04:05 AM
Harmony - go back and have another look at your earlier thread, "where do I start". I showed you various techniques, including blending, and honestly, they are all you need.

If you practice what I showed you for a while, you will get on fine. By all means start with blending.

Then, when you feel comfortable with handling the pastels, blending both with fingers, and with a tissue (the effects are quite different), you can spray a little fixative over the top of yourblended areas, and then try the other techniques.

You have been given all the info you need to make a really good start, please believe me.


07-15-2003, 04:22 AM
I have been given an immense amount of info and I am thankful to everyone who helped me there. I just hear so much about blending being a bad technique so I was worried I'd make too much of a mess :) I plan to do alot of experimenting in the next few weeks and the info you posted in my last thread is definately a major sorce of reference during that... along with a trip to the library for an information overload lol

Thankyou again. You've been a great help with everything pastel related :)