Pastel Art Blog

Top 10 Tips for pastel artists

My top 10 tips for anyone using pastels. Start your pastel journey the right way.

    My art journey with pastels hasn't always been easy. The very first time I tried them I couldn't get the detail I wanted, it looked muddy and messy. I couldn't fill the surface of the paper (some artists want that look but it wasn't for me) and I actually put everything into a box and under my bed for about 10 years whilst I carried on with coloured pencils.

    I wasted ten years of pastel bliss! Looking back, it was due to a few things
  • Lack of patience
  • The wrong materials
  • Nowhere to find any hints and tips
  • Not understanding how pastels work

When I tried them again, I used different supplies and something just clicked and now I rarely use anything else!

    1. Don't rush into buying supplies, I see so many people asking which pencils are best, which paper etc. Everyone is different. I've spent a fortune on supplies in the past, trying the next new thing and then I return to the few products which work for me. I could open my own shop!

    2. Buy individual pastel pencils or sticks. Don't go buying that fancy new set, you may not like them. If you are an animal artist buy browns, golds, as well as the primary colours from multiple brands. Some pencils are harder, so easier to sharpen but they may scratch and not lay down as smoothly as some softer pencils. Caran D'ache are super soft but I see many struggle with sharpening them. Try different brands to see what suits you. ALL BRANDS of pastels are compatible (obviously not oil and chalk pastel though). Some sticks are really soft, Unison create soft focus backgrounds but they are really big sticks so you may struggle using them in tiny areas. Conte sticks are hard and a bit more difficult to use on soft backgrounds but they are amazing for details, you wouldn't even need pastel pencils if you have these sticks. My advice is to buy a few of everything you can afford to see which suits your style, needs and budget.

    3. Get trial packs of pastel papers. Don't buy sheets and boards just because your favourite artist uses that brand. Most suppliers now have sample packs for you to buy, it's much wiser to try them out this way and will save in the long run.

    4. Never give up! I did and wasted so much time. If I had been a much wiser owl, I would have realised that a first attempt at most things won't give perfect results. I've grown to understand that when things aren't going as you want, persevere. Carrying on will help you learn how to overcome and fix that problem, you'll also know not what to do next time. How would you learn by abandoning something and just hoping that same problem doesn't happen next time? I really think this is why so many give up art, they repeatedly start afresh expecting this new effort to be better than the last, but they haven't actually learnt anything new to apply.

    5. Save money! Once you know which supplies you love, sign up to as many art supplier newsletters as you can, believe me, they will let you know when they have a sale. I rarely buy supplies other than in sales now. I know what I use so won't make a mistake and be filled with buyer's remorse these days, but I do save a small fortune. Remember ever, penny counts!

    6. Join art forums, Facebook Groups, subscribe to newsletters. Learn as much as you can about your favourite art medium. Ask questions whenever you can. I wish all of these things had been available when I started out. Find out if this is the medium for you.

    7. Practice and experiment. Try to find your way, you can follow a thousand tutorials but what you create has come from you, it's your style, your technique. As you grow in confidence you'll realise your own methods are taking over and it's a fabulous feeling to know you are freewheeling on your own!

    8. Join an art club or art society. Meet like minded people in the flesh. Discuss art with them, learn their techniques, ask questions. When you feel more confident they will be asking you for advice! Most art clubs and societies hold exhibitions, this can get your art out there! You'll also gain confidence and possibly move onto bigger exhibitions and competitions, be brave.

    9. Don't ever break copyright laws. Use only images you are allowed to use, never lift a photo from Pinterest or Google without asking the creator's permission. Never copy someone else's art and claim it as your own. Copyright theft is becoming a big problem these days but it's being noticed more and more, don't end up owing someone money for using their image without permission. There are plenty of copyright free websites, just use one of those.

    10. Most importantly - have fun! Remember, art is not a competition (unless you enter one). Your artwork is your own, stop comparing it to others, instead of becoming frustrated or jealous, ask them for tips and advice, if they don't offer help, try someone. Art is relaxing, make sure you enjoy it.
    PS. Let me know what you struggle with on your pastel journey, I can make a little video or post about it to help you on your way!else. Art is relaxing, make sure you enjoy it.

Categories: art tips


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