Portfolio: Beginning Pastel: Tips and techniques for learning to paint in pastel

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Pastels are a unique tool, and Beginning Pastel is the perfect introductory resource for artists just getting started in this colorful medium.

Beginning Pastel guides beginning artists through an exploration of pastel techniques and step-by-step projects for a comprehensive and approachable overview of the vibrant and unique pastel medium.

From choosing the right paper, pastels, and colors, to basic techniques like blending, gradating, and masking, Beginning Pastel is the perfect resource for artists just getting started in the world of pastels. Starting with a blank canvas, each stroke and technique is clearly explained and beautifully illustrated.

Master key concepts quickly, and then promptly put them into practice through simple step-by-step exercises. Often considered an advanced medium, Beginning Pastel makes the tricky task of drawing in pastel accessible and achievable for any artist.

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Learn all you need to know to get started…

Test Before You Begin

You can test your colors by stroking each pastel onto a small strip of scratch paper or sanded card. This helps you see the actual color before you begin painting.

Painting with Pastel

Once you understand how to build up the fine layers of color, you are on your way to producing great pastel paintings. Here is a simple formula for painting with pastel:

Choosing the right colors

Sketching the subject


Adding depth and color

Adding detail


An accurate drawing is vital when painting mountains. Block in the sky using the flat side of a pastel and working from dark to light, and then block in the mountain. Highlight areas of snow, and then add more colors. Make your corrections before adding more color and finer details. The final stage involves increasing the color and detail across the whole painting.


First, block in the key areas of the scene, such as the light source and the reflections in the water. Using the chisel edge of a pastel helps you accurately draw the main elements in the painting and their shadows.

Still Lifes

When painting a still life, you have complete control over your subject, as you choose the lighting, background, objects, and textures. Sketch your subject loosely using a pastel pencil, and then begin adding colors and shadows.


Painting buildings presents a challenge to a pastel painter, as there are many details to include. By using a combination of soft pastels and pastel pencils, however, amazing results can be achieved.

Publisher‏:‎Walter Foster Publishing (April 1, 2017)
Paperback‏:‎128 pages
Item Weight‏:‎1.3 pounds
Dimensions‏:‎8.63 x 0.5 x 11.13 inches


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