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Pastel Pencils Summary

Pastel pencils are not regarded as a ‘Coloured pencil’ by the International Coloured Pencil societies. They treat only the Wax/oil variety of pencil as being the true Coloured ( or ‘Colored’ .. in the USA ) pencil. As new varieties of coloured pencil are developed, the strict rules are regularly re-written, but the consistent cry through the years has been that Pastel Pencils are NOT coloured pencils. However Pastel Pencils are certainly Pencils and they are also Coloured. So as far as this web site is concerned, they are ‘coloured pencils’ They are certainly different from wax pencils in how they handle, but that doesn’t mean that this site will ignore them. There follows a selection of Topics on Pastel pencils and Hard Pastels to give you some basic information on buying and using them.  ‘Hard’ Pastels have the same formulae as the Pastel Pencils they match, they are simply without the wood cover. They draw the same and they work the same… they are just easier to use for the early blocking in layers of a picture and to cover larger areas
It all comes down to the way it handles on the paper. Traditional Watercolour or Acrylic stays mobile on the surface until it dries It dries quickly and it stays where it is put. You can paint over Watercolour ( well, up to a point) which is not quite as ‘fixed’ as acrylic But Watercolour and Acrylic pretty much stay where you put it. Oil painters have a totally different medium. One which is mobile on the surface for quite a long time before it dries.. This gives artists a chance to work the surface, adding in more colour and blending colours together. Unless you add mediums to make it dry quicker, it can take weeks to dry making it easy to go back and re-work and re-blend Pastel has more similarities to Oils than to Acrylics. You can work the pastel surface and blend more colour into the existing image. But being a dry pigment at the outset, it doesn’t need to dry. What you put down on the surface is what you get. It will always be workable - even years later. BUT this will always be a fragile surface This is why we need to protect it from scuffs and handling. Pastel is best behind glass, in a frame and mount, as quickly as possible. It can be ‘fixed’ with a fixative spray which adds a coat of varnish over the image. But this will also affect the colours and darken them. There is less reflected light coming off the pigment when it is behind a coat of varnish. The reflection of light off the crystals of pigment is what makes Pastels such a lovely medium. It makes the images ‘glow’. Using pencils to work a pastel picture gives us the opportunity to work much more cleanly than working with traditional soft pastel And in much more detail. Pastel is a lovely ( if messy ) medium Pastel Pencils have the advantage of being cleaner to use looking at Pastel Pencils They are often regarded by artists who use the traditional wax or oil based coloured pencils as the messy variety of CP. but To artists who are fans of pastels, they are the clean variety of soft pastels. This section looks at the brands that are available on the European market, how they differ, What the ranges are, and to point up any major advantages and disadvantages. Like the rest of this site, we have no sponsorship and tell it how we see it. We also include the pastel sticks produced by some of the pastel pencil manufacturers. We do not look at soft pastels and pastel sticks produced by non-pencil manufacturers.   We have to draw the line somewhere ! It could be argued that the sticks which we do include, are not pencils. The point of including them is that the content of the sticks from people like Faber-Castell, Cretacolour and Derwent etc, is identical to the pastel content in their pencil ranges and of equivalent hardness.   The sticks can therefore be readily used to produce the base layers of a picture and then have detail worked over the top with pastel pencils. The pastel material is the same, just the tool to put it down on the paper differs After fixing with a spray, the pastel pencil surface will also take final detailed working with CP - but that is covered in more detail in the Mixed Media section of this site. There is also a section included here which looks at different surfaces suitable for pastel And one that looks at the main techniques SEE THE BUTTONS TOP RIGHT OF THIS PAGE FOR THE LINKS TO SPECIFIC TOPICS IN THIS SECTION
IF YOU ARE KEEN TO TRY FOLLOWING SOME STEP BY STEP EXAMPLES The following are available on this website in this section FIRSTLY : There is a small step by step of a still life in the Techniques section which shows basic methods.   SECONDLY : Annecy Reflections Detailed Step by Step  on two long pages This is a large step by step example of a Landscape subject in Pastel Pencils and has been posted as a separate ‘Step by Step’ topic. This has detailed explanations of the stages and the reasons for the actions.   This exercise was completed for Caran d’Ache as a commission, and the notes were requested to accompany their product publicity.   The pencils and pastel sticks used were from the pre-production line and were not the finished product, so no colour names were available at the time the picture was completed. The Caran d’Ache pastel pencil line includes 84 colours and is sold in sets of the full colour range, smaller collections, and also smaller dedicated sets of 20 Landscape colours and of 20 Portrait colours.  The Landscape and Portrait sets will have 20 pencils and 20 cubes in the boxes. Details of prices and suppliers are given in the pages here on Pastel Pencil Brands) Winter Village step by step This was the subject of a course at Knuston Hall in 2016 the notes produced for that course are available as a download in PDF format below The picture is worked with a range of different pastel pencil brands and also some hard (carre) pastels as a foundation It is shown on Hahnemuhle Pastelfix dark blue paper.   Source reference is a photo by Michele Challaux of her local village of Corcelles les Monts near Dijon in France. If you wish to try this yourself, or just see how the picture was developed there is a PDF file for download here which details the steps
PASTEL PENCIL COURSES with Peter Weatherill We trialled these last year at Knuston Hall but we didn’t have enough interest to continue. Those who attended seemed to enjoy their time learning about this cleaner version of dry pastels Shame we were not able to collect a big enough group
last revised February 2019