Pastel is basically raw pigment mixed with a binding agent, usually gum tragacant and water, made into a dough-like consistency combined with white chalk for tints, and black pigment for dark shades. The mixture is then kneaded and rolled into sticks of vibrant colours or extruded through a tube and cut into desired lengths for easy handling,
The strength of the binder, the hardness of the pigment and the pressure exerted on the stick during manufacturing determines the degree of hardness or softness. The soft pastels have just enough binder added to the pigment to prevent the sticks from crumbling when applied to the painting surface.
There are three types of pastel you can use, soft, hard and pastel pencils, each produces a different textural effect and can vary the character of the medium, by lessening or strengthening the pressure applied to the stick, and by choosing a rough or smooth surface.
A skilled artist with a thorough knowledge of pastel properties can create a variety of artistic expressions. Pastel paintings need to be placed under glass when framing, due to the delicate nature of the medium, but once framed correctly, pastel is very durable and long lasting. Some of the great artists of the past, such as Edgar Degas, Toulouse Lautrec and Mary Cassatt, to name a few, have their work hanging in Art galleries throughout the world, still as vibrant and beautiful as the day they were created.
The Pastel Artists of South Australia was formed in February 2001 to promote and encourage the use of this beautiful medium. Exhibitions held by P.A.S.A. show the versatility and expressive works by the talented members of the society.