Pastels are wonderful because they are easy to use, relatively clean, and they are “real artist” tools. It seems that kids hit a certain age and they consider themselves too big and sophisticated for crayons. I am always quick to tell my art students that I love to use crayon. It is a great medium no matter what your age. However, there are inevitably a few upturned noses when I pull out the what is really the staple of childhood art. Maybe that is because they are so familiar. Pastels are athe perfect solution. They are similar to crayons, but they are oil based (versus crayon’s wax base). I tell my students that it is a lot like oil paints that are poured into sticks. Many masters used pastels, Degas was a big fan; and with reason. You can acheive some really great effects with pastel. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
~Pastels are very soft, you want to press lightly (very lightly at first, until they get used to the feel of them.) They are easy to break.
~Keep a paper towel and/or wet wipe closeby to clean your fingers off (so that you don’t accidentally blend in colors that are already on your fingers.)
~They look great whey you mix several colors together. Lightly color shadows and highlights in different shades and even use the color’s compliment (the opposite color on the color wheel) sparingly to make it pop.
~Use a paper with tooth or extra texture to really show the character of your pastels. (You can buy paper especially for pastel work.) Let some of the paper show through to give texture and put down layers of color to make it very bold where needed. When working on an object, start with your darker shades and work to lighter.
~Use different parts of the pastel to get different effects. Experiment with the edge, end, and side of the pastel.
~Use your fingers to blend the colors together, try other things to blend, like a piece of paper towel, cotton swab or a sponge.
~Generally work from top of page to bottom to keep your picture free of stray smudges. Ifpossible, work on an easel or incline to let the dust drop off the page while you work.
~If your crayon shatters, you can collect the pieces on a piece of wax paper. Use just enough rubbing alcohol to wet it so it will stick together and roll into a stick. It will dry in a day or so and be good to go again
The Pastel Artists of Canada site has a lot of good information on safety and storing/showing your finished product. If your little artist really takes to pastels, you will definitely want to check out the International Assoc. of Pastel Societies website. It is a fabulous resource!