Passionate about Pastels

If you love color, you have probably found yourself admiring pastel paintings and drawings, with their luminous color and velvety rich texture.

Pastel powder is so intense because it is pure pigment--the same pigment used in all art mediums, including oil paints.

Pastels come in several different forms, including hard pastels, soft pastels, pencils, and oil.

(SAM artist Elly Sands)

Soft pastels are the most widely used form of pastel. The sticks have a higher portion of pigment and less binder, resulting in brighter colors. Drawings can be blended easily but result in more dust and need to be protected, either by framing under glass or spraying with a fixative to prevent smudging.

Oil pastels have a soft, buttery consistency and intense colors. They are dense and slightly more difficult to blend than soft pastels, but they do not require a fixative.

(SAM artist Elly Sands)

Pastel paintings are completed works in which the entire surface area is covered in pastel. Because of pastel's blendability and texture, pastel paintings often show the same depth and richness as oil or watercolor paintings.

With pastel drawings, parts of the surface area are left uncovered by pastel, leaving a noticeable amount of paper or underlying surface showing through. These works have much more in common with drawings or sketches.

(SAM artist Elly Sands)

When protected by fixative and glass, pastel is the most permanent of all media because it never cracks, darkens, or yellows.

Edgar Degas is probably the most well-known pastel artist. He passed on his skill with this medium to his protégée, Mary Cassatt.

(Edgar Degas: Two Blue Dancers)

(Mary Cassatt: Tête d'Enfant au Chapeau Rouge)

(SAM artist Lisa Vargas)

Pastel's powdery composition is its greatest strength and greatest weakness. In theory, any liquid applied to pastel will penetrate the spaces between the fine particles of powder and cause certain colors to become dull or darken. Fixatives can also alter the color of exposed paper.

(SAM artist Lisa Vargas)

The color effect of pastels is closer to the natural dry pigments than that of any other process.

(SAM artist Lisa Vargas)

Working with pastels doesn't require a lot of other tools, as paints often do.

(SAM artist Lisa Vargas)

Stop by and visit our pastel artists any day of the week: 10-5!

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