View Full Version : advice needed

09-28-2002, 07:07 PM
hi all im new to this pastel thing as I normal paint watercolor. but need to branch out of my rut. so went out spent my birthday money and bought a rembrant 90 soft pastel box. now the money thats left is just about zilch, what else do I need. do I need the hard pastel to blend or can you use just the paper tool that rod makes from cardboard. what about the pastel pensil they look like they would be good for sharp edges. but Im not sure where to go or what else to buy. also I like the thought of using my watercolor paper with washes sound like a great idea seeing I have plenty of the stuff. is there a big difference in the papers. Im going back to the shops on monday to pick up the next essentials so tell me please what else do I really need without getting carried away. thanks in advance . Jan

09-28-2002, 07:41 PM
Jan - first go to the library to see if you can find a decent book on working with pastels, rather than trying to work it all out on your own. You will pick up advice and inspiration, if the author is any good. Blowing my own trumpet here ... look out for PASTELS WORKBOOK by Jackie Simmonds!!! Simple to follow, good for beginners to pastels.

then, get some really nice pastel papers, in different colours. It is good to try working on, say, Canson Mi Teinte paper, which has two sides, one slightly more textured than the other. Try both sides to see which you prefer. Buy some grey paper, some warm-coloured buff paper, and something dark too. You get different results with different coloured papers.

Working on watercolour paper is Okay, but if it is NOT surface, with some bumpy texture, the soft pastel won't completely fill the pits and hollows, which some people find annoying. It's great if you work on something like an old watercolour, so that the paper is coloured, but if the paper is white, you get a white spotty effect "behind" your pastel image. Smoother papers are best, in my opinion. Then you create your own textures!

You can blend with fingers, tissues, torchon (that rolled paper stump) - or you can decide not to blend at all, but instead overlay colours. (The book, above, will show you.). Blending with fingers is completely different to blending with tissue or torchon, try it and see what I mean.

Pastel pencils are okay for small studies - but you don't need them for "sharp edges". YOu can create sharp edges and details even with a soft pastel, if you want them, and paint carefully enough. A chalk pastel has two surfaces, a point (sort of) and an side plane. You work with both. I never bother with pastel pencils, and find I don't need them. They don't work well over the top of soft pastel anyway.

A can of fixative is useful. Use it sparingly, between layers, to recreate tooth if you fill the tooth of the paper too much and the pastel starts to skid around. Try not to use it at the "end", because it will slightly darken your lightest colours.

A most useful thing to have is an old hog-hair brush ... for brushing off areas of pastel which haven't worked. A putty rubber will take of the tiny film of pastel left if you want .. but you don't need to do that really.

A sieve, and some semolina, will do the trick for cleaning your pastel. Put dirty pastels into a plastic bag. Add some semolina. Shake. Tip the lot into the seive, over a bowl. You will have wonderfully clean pastels!

Charcoal is useful for sketching in the bones of the picture.

Here is one of my pictures, done exclusively with soft pastels, on a pearly grey Canson paper:

Welcome to the wonderful world of pastels!
do visit my ebay page and auctions (http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/jackie4art/.)

visit my website which has a “troubleshooter” page of helpful pastel tips and hints (http://www.jackiesimmonds.co.uk)

Also see my posts in The Artists Marketplace here at WC!

09-28-2002, 07:55 PM
I'm sure everyone does things differently, but I'll tell you what I do....others I'm sure will give you additional advice as well. The set of rembrant is a great start for you. I hardley ever use pastel pencils, instead I prefer the NuPastel brand of harder pastel sticks. They are rectangular in shape and you can pick up a big set fairly cheaply. These can be sharpened to a really nice point using sandpaper or an xacto knife. You can save off the shavings to rub into your paper for backgrounds, etc. They have a great edge, being rectangular, which can be used for finer details.

As far as paper goes, I often use watercolor paper. When using the wc paper, I always apply a wash of either watercolor or watered acrylic first. I personally prefer the hot pressed smoother wc paper, but you can get some really nice textures using the rougher paper as well. There are definitely all kinds of pastel papers and boards out there to try as well, but if you got a stock of wc paper, why not start with that.

For blending, you can use stumps, tissues, cotton, color shapers and my favorite, your finger or hand, depending upon the size of the area to be blended.

I would also recommend getting some glassine. It's an acid free translucent paper which you can put over your completed pastels so that they don't smudge while being stored. The only other item I can think of is fixative. Some folks use it, and some don't. Essentially, you can spray fixative on your completed pastel to keep it from smudging and from having pastel dust come off of your completed painting. The fixative however, will darken the colors somewhat. You can also use fixative between layers of pastel on a work in process. The fixative will allow you to go back in and add an additional layer of pastel without disturbing the previous layer.

Whew....like I said, I'm sure others with think of things that I have forgotten! :D Can't wait to see some of your first paintings!

09-28-2002, 07:56 PM
Hey Jackie...I'll toot your horn too...I have Jackie's "Pastel Workbook" and it is fabulous!