Tips for soft pastel chalk painting
The term is derived from the Italian word 'pasta' (= paste). Pastels are made up of pigments, binding agents - e.g. tragacanth gum - and sometimes fillers like chalk and talc which make the pastel chalks smooth and soft. Soft pastel chalks are also ideal for all kinds of mixed techniques.
They can be applied on top of gouache, watercolour, not too thickly applied acrylic and even oil paints and can be used in combination with, e.g., charcoal and ink too. They can also be washed with a moist brush, similar to watercolouring.
Painting surface for pastel chalk painting:
Rough paper is most suitable for use with soft pastel chalks. There are many different special pastel papers available, e.g. Ingres, velour paper, Sansfix, pastel card etc. Pastel chalk looks particularly impressive when used on coloured paper, as the surface can then actually be incorporated in the picture.
Storage and framing:
When the work is completed, it is essential that it is fixed. A sheet of tissue or tracing paper may also be used to protect the finished picture. Even pastel artwork that has been properly fixed remains sensitive and, ideally, should be mounted and framed under glass straight away. Anyone not wishing to have a mount should nevertheless make sure that there is a spacer between the glass and the picture in order to avoid condensation stains.
Useful accessories for soft pastel chalks:
Fixative (available e.g. as a spray), paper stomps or, alternatively, cotton buds, wet wipes for cleaning hands and tools every now and then while working, kneadable eraser for the removal or lightening of colours (STAEDTLER art. no. 5427), rice - dirty soft pastel chalks can be cleaned quickly by placing them in a plastic tub with grains of rice -, a cover for the floor underneath the workplace as soft pastel chalks always create dust, protective clothing for the same reason.
Draw a motif and then smudge using your hand, a paper stomp or cloth.
Blend by overlaying individual colours from light to dark.
- Remove an already applied colour using e.g. a cotton bud or kneadable eraser.
- Then, after fixing, add a new layer of highlights and fix again.
Use the broad side of the chalk to cover a large area.