Join my VIP list and get 15% off your first order

10% of every purchase goes to ocean conservation. Buy art - support the ocean - good vibrations all around!

Your shopping cart is empty.

Your shopping cart is empty.

Soft Pastels - the world's oldest and most durable painting medium

(Image: Wikimedia)

32,000 years ago, in a cave in Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, France, an artist decided to decorate the walls and ceilings of his or her cave with paintings of horses. While experts continue to debate the reasons for their creation, what is not debatable is the beauty of this art. The horses are so true-to-life that you expect them to leap off the walls and prance out the cave. The medium this prehistoric artist used? Pure minerals and charcoal. The same minerals we use in soft pastels today.   

I work primarily in soft pastels because to me, they are the most versatile of all painting mediums. They are made from the same mineral pigments that form the basis of oil colors, watercolors, acrylics, and inks. Instead of being mixed in a liquid, they are mixed with a binder, typically gum tragacanth, rolled into sticks, and left to dry. The more pigment and less binder, the softer the pastel.   

I use a wide variety of pastels that are “harder” (NuPastel and Faber Castell) to "medium" (Art Spectrum, Rembrandt, Mt. Vision) to the very, very soft (Girault, Schmincke, Sennelier, Unison, Great American, Blue Earth, Terry Ludwig). When using pastels, I cannot “mix” pigments the same way a wet media painter would. To “mix” colors, I layer them on top of each other. I usually start with the harder pastels because they don’t leave as much pigment on the textured surface of the paper. By adding the softer pastels later, it allows me to create greater depth, more texture and the semblance of “brush strokes” because the softer the pastel, the more it adheres to the surface.

My medium-sized, plein air pastel box (after I've tidied it up a bit)

When you look at pastel particles under a microscope, you see that they look like dozens of prisms — they’re crystals! And because of that crystalline structure, they refract and reflect light. It is this quality that provides the luminosity and sparkle that is unique to a pastel painting. No other medium can duplicate the freshness and vivacity of a pastel.   

Some pastellists use a fixative in order to adhere more pastels to the surface when they run out of tooth or want to create a certain texture. I rarely use a fixative. If I do, it’s usually at the very end and then only lightly. That’s because using fixatives aren't good for the environment and they destroy the crystalline properties of the pastel making them appear duller and darker.   

Caring for Your Pastel Painting 

If you already own a pastel painting, or purchase one of mine, it's important to treat it with particular care so it doesn't get ruined by moisture in the environment. I've written some instructions you can follow, download it here.

Trusted Art Seller

The presence of this badge signifies that this business has officially registered with the Art Storefronts Organization and has an established track record of selling art.

It also means that buyers can trust that they are buying from a legitimate business. Art sellers that conduct fraudulent activity or that receive numerous complaints from buyers will have this badge revoked. If you would like to file a complaint about this seller, please do so here.

Verified Returns & Exchanges

The Art Storefronts Organization has verified that this business has provided a returns & exchanges policy for all art purchases.

Description of Policy from Merchant:

Returns & Exchanges are explained here:

Verified Secure Website with Safe Checkout

This website provides a secure checkout with SSL encryption.

Verified Archival Materials Used

The Art Storefronts Organization has verified that this Art Seller has published information about the archival materials used to create their products in an effort to provide transparency to buyers.

Description from Merchant:

Surfaces used in original art works are all archival material (neutral PH) as certified by their manufacturers. See: for more details. Pastels, oil paints, and watercolors are certified by the various manufacturers as to their lightfastness ratings. These manufacturers include: Sennelier, Charvin, Jack Richeson, Terry Ludwig, Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, Royal Talens, NuPastel, CretaColor, Blue Earth, Girault, Art Spectrum, Unison, Mount Vision, Diane Townsend, Bruynzeel, and Mungyo. For art print reproductions, my partner, Bay Photo ( provides information on the various surfaces and materials that they use.


Your cart is currently empty.

Saved Successfully.

This is only visible to you because you are logged in and are authorized to manage this website. This message is not visible to other website visitors.


Import From Instagram

Click on any Image to continue

Create a New Favorite List


Badge ar compatible

This Site supports Augmented Reality to Live Preview Art

Use your mobile device's camera to superimpose any piece of art from my site onto a wall in your home or business.

To use this feature, look for the "Live Preview AR" button below each piece of art on its dedicated page. Questions? Get in touch.


Manage Favorites

Below, select which favorite lists you would like to save this product into.


This Site supports Augmented Reality to Live Preview Art

Use your mobile device's camera to superimpose any piece of art from my site onto a wall in your home or business.

To use this feature, look for the "Live Preview AR" button below each piece of art on its dedicated page. Questions? Get in touch.

Please answer these questions as best you can. I'll contact you shortly after getting them to set up a consultation.

What's your budget?
How would you like to be contacted?
No thanks



Enter your email below and we'll send your 15% OFF coupon right now

This offer is for NEW CUSTOMERS only! 

Thank you for supporting my art!

You can unsubscribe at any time. 
I loathe spam too.

No thanks