ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Pastel Workshops - Beginning A Painting

Updated on May 25, 2015

Househole Cove, Cornwall

Househole Cove, Cornwall, Unison pastels on Colourfix paper
Househole Cove, Cornwall, Unison pastels on Colourfix paper | Source

Begin Painting

Producing a really good pastel painting starts before even putting down the first pencil line, with the choice of materials used. It goes without saying that the better quality the pastels and paper used, the better the finished piece of work will be, so it is important to buy the best you can afford (see below for more information). It is also important to prepare your workspace and protect your clothing, as pastels are a very messy medium!

Equipment List

Definitely Needed
Would be Nice
If Desperate
Good quality pastels
Blending tool
Good quality paper
Small stiff bristle brush
masking tape
1" decorator's paintbrush
Drawing board
Cloths to wipe hands on
Hard pencil

Choose Your Weapons

The list above asks for 'good quality pastels and paper,' as my followers know, I use Unison pastels that are hand made in England, as these provide superb depth of pigment and the texture is very soft and creamy which allows good coverage on the paper and ease of blending. The other brand that I would consider to be excellent quality are the French-made Sennelier pastels. However, when I teach, I often use Rembrandt, as these are still extremely good quality, but somewhat less expensive and slightly less soft, which some students find easier to manage when starting out.

There are numerous types of pastel papers on the market and it's really a matter of trying a few out and choosing what suits you best. However, I often use Colourfix paper, which has the texture of fine-grained sandpaper, as this grabs the pastel pigment very well and enables the artist to produce really good depth of colour. The only downsides are that it can be difficult to produce really detailed work (difficult, not impossible) and the paper uses up a lot of pastel.

Professional artists often use Mi Tientes paper, which is textured to grab the pastel. This is a good quality paper and makes finer work easier. For teaching purposes, a basic textured paper such as Durano is quite sufficient.

Let's Start pastel Painting

The first thing to do is to set up your easel. It's really necessary to use an easel for pastel painting, as the pastels shed A LOT of dust and if the work is not fairly vertical, this dust tends to become ground in to the paper where you don't want it, creating muddy colours.

There are many easels on the market, so again, go for the best you can afford, as it will be sturdier - you will be using your fist to really push the pastel pigment into the tooth of the paper, so a sturdy base is good. I use two easels, a portable one that folds down into a box. This is good as it has storage space on which to rest my boxes of pastels. My static easel is an old school easel from the time before computers and white-boards. Its big and very solid. I love it!

The dustiness of pastel work may mean that you need to protect clothes and floor coverings too, and some people prefer to use baby wipes rather than a cloth for cleaning their hands. If this is you, make sure you use the ones without baby lotion in them, as this (and hand cream) makes the pastels waxy and shiny on your paper and you won't be able to layer over it.

Tape your chosen paper on all four sides to the drawing board, using masking tape. It's important to ensure the paper is stuck all round, as you will be using quite a bit of force to push the pigment into the paper.

It's also a really good idea to use a biggish offcut of your chosen paper and tape this alongside your piece to test each pastel on. When a pastel stick is new, you need to slit it's paper covering with a knife and remove it (keep it in the box where you too the pastel from, so that you know what to reorder). The new pastel will have a 'skin' on it, so it's important to rub this on your offcut, to remove the 'skin' and allow the pigment to flow easily.

In addition, the colour of pastel sticks in the box is COMPLETELY different than it looks on the paper, so you really need to try them on your offcut first. The offcut will allow you to blend colours together, or one over the other, so you can see how they look before using them on your work.

I put Fixative in brackets, as it's use is controversial. Professional pastel artists simply do not use fixative, as it destroys the pastel pigment. It is far better to really push the pastel into the paper than to use fixative. That said, it is sometimes easier for beginners to use a little fixative, whilst they are building on their painting skills and if using a very dark 'base layer' a little fixative makes overpainting easier.

Compose your Painting

Finally, after all the preparation, it's time to compose your piece. I've written a short article explaining about composition, detailing some of the do's and don'ts to help you along your way.

If you are local to Moretonhampstead, you are welcome to join our regular pastel painting workshops on the last Saturday of every month - in addition, the p.Art of The Country Shop on Station Road can supply you with pastels, paper and pencils, so you can capture those wonderful Moorland scenes.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)