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The Allure and Flexibility of Pastel Art

Explore the captivating history of pastel as it transformed from a Renaissance sketching tool to a celebrated medium. Immerse yourself in the emotive power of pastels, discovering how artists skillfully convey a spectrum of feelings, from the tender strokes of intimacy to the dynamic interplay of joy and contemplation. Delve into the seamless fusion of pastels with various mediums, unlocking the door to a realm where graphite, ink, watercolor, and more dance harmoniously with the velvety allure of pastel pigments.

Shop Pastel Art Online:

Browse our range of Pastel Art below, note limited availability of original artworks.

  • The Drowned City - Fine Art Print
    The Drowned City - InkyWinky
    The Drowned City - Fine Art Print

    The Drowned City - Fine Art Print

    Regular price $69.99 Sale price $27.99+
  • Journey - Fine Art Print
    Journey - InkyWinky
    Journey - Fine Art Print

    Journey - Fine Art Print

    Regular price $69.99 Sale price $27.99+
  • Life Perseveres - Fine Art Print
    Life Perseveres - InkyWinky
    Life Perseveres - Fine Art Print

    Life Perseveres - Fine Art Print

    Regular price $69.99 Sale price $27.99+
  • Memento Mori - Fine Art Print
    Memento Mori - InkyWinky
    Memento Mori - Fine Art Print

    Memento Mori - Fine Art Print

    Regular price $69.99 Sale price $27.99+

What is Pastel Art?

Pastel art is a captivating medium that involves the use of soft, powdered pigments to create vibrant and expressive works of art. These pigments are held together with a minimal amount of binder, giving pastel artworks a unique and velvety appearance. The word "pastel" originates from the Italian word "pasta," meaning paste, reflecting the medium's composition. Pastels come in various forms, including soft, hard, and oil pastels, each offering distinct qualities for artists to explore. Whether used for portraiture, landscapes, or still life, pastels offer a distinctive and immediate way for artists to convey their vision.

What makes Pastel Art Special?

Pastel art possesses a special allure due to its unique characteristics and the creative possibilities it offers. One of the most distinctive features is the medium's vibrant color palette, allowing artists to achieve intense hues and subtle nuances. Pastels also enable artists to layer colors, creating rich textures and a luminous quality in their work.

The immediacy of pastel art contributes to its appeal; artists can work directly with their hands, fingers, or blending tools, fostering a tactile connection between the artist and the artwork. This hands-on approach allows for spontaneity and intuitive expression, making each pastel piece a one-of-a-kind creation.

Additionally, pastel art is known for its longevity. When properly framed and protected, pastel artworks can retain their brilliance and vibrancy for centuries. This durability adds to the allure of pastel as a medium that stands the test of time, preserving the artist's vision for generations to come.

What kind of techniques are used when making Pastel Art?

Pastel art involves a variety of techniques that artists employ to achieve different effects and textures. One fundamental technique is layering, where artists build up colors gradually to create depth and intensity. Blending is another essential skill, allowing artists to seamlessly merge colors and soften transitions between tones.

Moreover, artists often use a variety of strokes, such as hatching and cross-hatching, to create texture and detail. The choice of surface is crucial; pastels can be applied to textured papers that enhance their grip or to smoother surfaces for a different effect. Fixatives can be applied to set the pastel layers and prevent smudging.

Pastel artists also explore the technique of scumbling, where they apply a thin, broken layer of pastel over an existing layer. This method can create atmospheric effects and add a sense of luminosity to the artwork. Additionally, sgraffito, the process of scratching through layers of pastel to reveal underlying colors, adds another dimension to the creative possibilities of pastel art.

Overall, the techniques used in pastel art are as diverse as the artists themselves, allowing for a rich tapestry of styles and expressions within this captivating medium.

Where can I use Pastel Art?

Pastel Artwork can function well in so many settings, but our recommendations include:

Living Rooms, Hotels, Dining Rooms, Creative Spaces, Librarys, Spas, Receptions, Waiting Rooms, Furniture Stores, Display Homes, Bedrooms, Restaurants, Corporate Offices, Universities, Wine Bars, and Conference Rooms.

If you're looking for something to fit a different room, browse through our entire store below. We're sure we have something for you.

What are the Themes Used in Pastel Art?

Pastel art encompasses a wide range of themes, allowing artists to explore and express their creativity across various subjects. One prevalent theme is portraiture, where the soft and blendable nature of pastels lends itself beautifully to capturing the subtleties of the human face. Pastel portraits often convey a sense of warmth and intimacy, creating a connection between the viewer and the subject.

Landscape is another popular theme in pastel art. The medium's ability to convey the vibrant colors of nature and its versatility in depicting various textures make it well-suited for bringing landscapes to life. From sweeping vistas to intimate scenes, pastel artists can evoke the beauty and atmosphere of outdoor settings with remarkable realism.

Still life is yet another theme explored in pastel art, allowing artists to arrange and capture everyday objects in unique and visually appealing compositions. The rich pigments of pastels can be used to portray the interplay of light and shadow, giving still life pieces a sense of depth and dimension.

Abstract and experimental themes are also prevalent in pastel art. The medium's versatility enables artists to explore non-representational forms, textures, and colors, pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic expression. Pastel abstracts often showcase the spontaneity and freedom inherent in the medium.

Ultimately, the themes in pastel art are as diverse as the imaginations of the artists who use them, making this medium a versatile and expressive form of visual storytelling.

What are the Different Kinds of Pastels and Why Do We Use Them?

Pastels come in various forms, each offering unique qualities that cater to different artistic preferences and techniques. The three primary types of pastels are soft pastels, hard pastels, and oil pastels.

Soft Pastels: These are the most popular and widely used pastels. Soft pastels have a high pigment concentration, making them intense and vibrant. They are easy to blend and layer, allowing artists to achieve a broad range of colors and subtle transitions. Soft pastels are favored for their immediate and expressive qualities, making them ideal for a spontaneous and gestural approach to art.

Hard Pastels: Hard pastels have a higher proportion of binder, making them less pigmented than soft pastels. They are excellent for creating fine lines and details due to their firm texture. Artists often use hard pastels for initial sketches or to add precise elements to a composition. The ability to layer hard pastels over soft pastels adds depth and precision to the artwork.

Oil Pastels: Unlike soft and hard pastels, oil pastels contain a non-drying oil and wax binder. They offer a unique creamy consistency and can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including paper, canvas, and even wood. Oil pastels are known for their versatility, allowing artists to blend and layer them like paint. They are a favorite for artists who enjoy experimenting with texture and exploring mixed-media techniques.

The choice of pastel depends on the artist's preferred working style, the desired effect, and the specific techniques they plan to employ in their artwork.

What Kind of Materials Do We Use Pastels On When Making Art?

Choosing the right surface for pastel art is crucial to achieving the desired effects and ensuring the longevity of the artwork. The most common surfaces for pastel art include:

Textured Paper: Pastel paper with a grainy or textured surface provides the ideal tooth for pastels to grip onto. The texture helps hold the pigment in place, allowing for multiple layers and enhancing the vibrancy of the colors. Artists can choose from a variety of colors and textures to suit the mood and theme of their artwork.

Sanded Paper or Surfaces: Sanded paper is specifically designed for pastel work, offering a coarser texture that allows for even more layering and blending. Artists often appreciate the added grip of sanded surfaces, enabling them to create intricate details and achieve a more nuanced range of tones.

Pastel Boards: These are rigid surfaces coated with a fine-grit abrasive that provides an excellent tooth for pastels. Pastel boards are durable and prevent warping, providing a stable foundation for pastel artworks.

Canvas: While less traditional, some artists enjoy working with pastels on canvas. To enhance adherence, artists often apply a primer or gesso to create a textured surface. Canvas offers a different tactile experience and allows for experimentation with mixed media.

Selecting the right surface depends on the artist's preference, the effect they want to achieve, and the techniques they plan to use. Each surface has its unique characteristics, influencing the final appearance of the pastel artwork.

Pastel Artist:

Meet Ayla Fowles. Born in Syria shortly before the civil war, Ayla experienced first-hand the suffering and injustice caused by her government. Then living in Saudi, she lived under radical religious law. As a result she spent her teenage years locked in her room as she desperately sought any freedom she could find, which she found that through art. Art was her form of expression and as the years went by, she practiced and practiced while she waited for an opportunity.

She now gets to tell the story of her youth with the hope that she can show you how good things can come from bad situations, and to bring awareness to things she finds dear to her (or things that she thinks are really cool).

What Other Mediums are Popularly Used with Pastels?

Pastels are versatile and often complemented by other mediums to create mixed-media artworks. Some popular combinations include:

Graphite and Charcoal: Artists often use graphite or charcoal to create detailed underdrawings before applying pastels. This provides a foundation for the pastel layers and allows for precise outlines and shading.

Ink: Combining ink with pastels can produce striking effects. Artists may use ink for detailed linework or to add bold, contrasting elements to their pastel compositions.

Watercolor: The translucent nature of watercolors can be paired with pastels to achieve a delicate and ethereal look. Artists may apply watercolor washes as a background before layering pastels on top.

Acrylics: Acrylic paints can be used to create an under-painting or to add texture to the surface before applying pastels. The combination of acrylics and pastels allows for a dynamic interplay of color and texture.

Colored Pencils: Adding colored pencils to a pastel artwork can enhance details and create intricate textures. The combination of the soft, velvety pastels with the precision of colored pencils offers a balanced approach to mixed-media art.

Oil Paint: Some artists integrate oil paint with pastels, creating a dynamic fusion of dry and wet mediums. This combination allows for a wide range of textures and can result in highly expressive and layered artworks.

Experimenting with different mediums alongside pastels provides artists with a broader range of creative possibilities, allowing them to explore texture, color, and contrast in unique ways.

Historically, When Did Pastel Become a Popular Art Form?

The popularity of pastel as an art form can be traced back to the 15th century, with its roots in Italy. However, it wasn't until the 18th century that pastel truly gained widespread recognition and popularity.

In the 16th century, pastels were primarily used for sketches and under-drawings. Artists appreciated the medium for its immediacy and ability to capture the essence of a subject with swift strokes. By the 17th century, pastels had become popular among portrait artists, particularly in France. The medium's luminous quality and the ability to convey the delicacy of skin tones contributed to its growing appeal.

During the 18th century, pastel art experienced a golden age in France, with renowned artists such as Maurice-Quentin de La Tour and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin creating masterpieces that showcased the medium's versatility. Pastels became the preferred choice for portraitists, and their use spread across Europe, influencing the art scene in England and Russia.

While pastel art experienced a decline in the 19th century, it enjoyed a resurgence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with artists like Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. In the contemporary art scene, pastels continue to be a popular and respected medium, cherished for their vibrant colors and expressive qualities.

What Kind of Emotions are Pastels Used to Create?

Pastels are renowned for their ability to evoke a wide range of emotions in viewers. The soft and luminous quality of pastels often conveys a sense of warmth, intimacy, and nostalgia. The medium's immediacy allows artists to capture fleeting moments and emotions with a gentle touch, making it well-suited for portraying tenderness and vulnerability.

The vibrant and varied color palette of pastels enables artists to express joy, playfulness, and exuberance. Pastel artworks can radiate positivity and energy, creating a visually pleasing experience for the viewer.

Conversely, pastels can also be employed to convey a sense of tranquility, melancholy, or contemplation. The subtle blending and layering of colors in pastel art allow for the exploration of more subdued emotions, adding depth and complexity to the artwork.

Overall, pastels are a versatile medium that can communicate a spectrum of emotions, from the lively and cheerful to the serene and reflective. The emotional impact of pastel art often lies in its ability to engage viewers on a visceral level, eliciting a personal and emotional response to the visual narrative created by the artist.