View Full Version : Yet another "new to pastel" question

04-21-2005, 07:07 AM
Hello all,

I've mainly worked in watercolours and now im having a crack at all the other mediums. As i found watercolours didn't inspire me. I've tried oils and didn't mind them,now its pastels turn.

So I thought i would pop in here and ask a bunch of silly newbie questions.

Firstly, alot of the high quality pastel work I have seen is very detailed.More so than most other mediums.

Whats the most popular pastels? soft? hard? a mixture of both? pastel sticks?pencils?.

I have mostly painted photorealism(as much as one can in watercolour) and It seems some of the best art in this style is achieved via pastels.

I have tried pastels once or twice in the past and frankly I have no idea how peopel can achieve such intricate detail.All my efforts looked like a 6yold pre-school crayon drawing..lol

So,I suppose what im asking is there a fundamental technique for achieving this type of detail?How do you all approach a painting and achieve your detail with pastel? do you spend hours and hours on one tiny section? my attempt to yield a simple straight line resulted in a 1/4 inch thick borken squiggle up the page..lol

any tips would be appreciated.

04-21-2005, 11:01 AM
I am glad you asked these questions. I am engaged in a similar struggle and am looking forward to any solutions. I had about come to the conclusion that pastels were not the medium for small accurate details.
Mel Evans

04-21-2005, 11:12 AM
You should check in the article index for the pastel articles by Gaka. He achieves incredible photorealism in his pastel paintings and was kind enough to share his technique in several articles here.

K Taylor-Green
04-21-2005, 01:32 PM
Hi Toby! Welcome to the Pastel Forum!
The Pastel Library is a great place to get information on different styles and tecniques, and Cori's answer is spot on. Gaka does wonderful photorealism in pastels.
My technique is to start out with softies, and build detail with Nupastels and varied pastel pencils.
Check out your local library, there are so many good books on pastel techniques, it's hard to know where to start. Mostly, have fun and experiment.

04-22-2005, 04:57 AM
Thanks for the replies,
I read through Gaka's articles. his realism is..well unreal:)

What im confused about it,what pastels are used to do this sort of this stuff?

is it entirely done with soft pastel sticks? a combination of pencils/hard pastels? etc. are most detailed pastel paintings done with just one type? or combinations?

04-22-2005, 05:52 AM
Hi Toby,

as I remember Gakas article right (wich was a great help for starting pastels for me too) he used almost exclusive Faber Castell or Nupastel hard pastels.
In generally I think that harder pastels are better for detailed work. I use the Faber Castell pastels for 80% of my pictures but I add some soft pastels for highlights, final touches and to cover large areas. The softer ones are more creamy and you can achieve really strong colors for the final touch. I would start with a set of the hard ones for the beginning and buy only a few soft ones to see the difference. I break every pastel into smaller pieces to get sharp edges and use colourshapers for the detail (look at Gakas article for further information).
The rest is practise - the more you try the easier it will get to achieve realism and detail. Pastels are a great medium for that style. I have struggled with oils before and although I admire the works of artists who master this medium I think that for me there is no medium other than pastel with wich I can achieve the look I want to. Try out the pastels and donīt give up too soon. It is really worth it once you got some practice.


04-22-2005, 06:32 AM
great, thanks for the reply:).

SO hard pastels eh,seems i was using soft ones mostly and was baffled on how people gained detail..

Now to go find me a box:). faber castel seems the most popular brand in most shops here in Aus, so will the pastels be marked as Hard? or under someother name.

04-22-2005, 07:24 AM
They are called Faber Castell Polychromos. Be carefull as their coloured pencils are sold under the same name. You will find them most likely under the soft pastels category because all pastels that are not oil pastels go under the name soft pastels. So you can say they are the harder ones of the soft pastels.
Another reason why they are good for detail is that they are smaller and in an rectangular shape instead of the bigger and round softer pastels.
If you canīt find the faber ones then you can try Nupastel, Conte crayons or cretacolor wich also come in that rectangular shapes. I have tried Conte, Faber and Cretacolor and like the Fabers most of them and they seem to have the largest colour range of them. I Havenīt tried Nupastels but I have heard that they are really very hard so you might get fine lines with them but maybe a rather scratchy and not so smooth look.


04-22-2005, 08:38 AM
Thanks Doeark.

I checked out some of your work btw, very impressive:)

04-22-2005, 10:40 AM
I have tried the Faber's- love them- did not care for Nupastels- but need to read that article too- my work is improving using Mount Visions for the large areas and Giraults for the fine detail- but the kind of work eg. in Pastel Journal and what people post here blows me away... my husband also rated my first works as 'about 3rd grade'. When he got up to 8th grade- I said 'would you pay $300 for it???' He said that he probably already had (how true) He has learned to now say - wow- that's great :D

04-22-2005, 11:25 AM
HELP! I have tried to find these articles by Gaka for the past hour, and found his nude in coffee (wonderful), and his merry christmas, but can't find the articles for the life of me. Can anyone provide a direct link? I have checked the pastel library index....and the search engine for gaka... perhaps I will switch to coffee ha

K Taylor-Green
04-22-2005, 12:11 PM
Hi purples. Go to the top of the page and click on Content Areas. From the drop down menu, click on Article Index. Scroll down to Pastels. You will find
an article titled Photorealism in pastels or something close. It is about swallows, and it uses Gaka's real name, which is Bruce. My memory is failing me now as far as detail, but you will be able to find it with this info.

04-22-2005, 12:49 PM
Hi purples,
Kate is right about where to find the article.
Here is the direct link so you donīt have to search that much:

Hi toby,
thanks for the compliment.
Hope to see your first pastel pictures soon.


04-22-2005, 01:09 PM
Thank you both so very much!