Q: How do you get such fine detail with soft pastel? Do they make pencil-size pastels? (Question from Lucia Sommer via Facebook)

Setembro 9, 2023
“Sam and Bobo,”soft pastel on sandpaper, 36″ x 31”, 1989

A: After 37 years as a pastel artist, I have learned all sorts of techniques and can do whatever I want with it. I used regular Rembrandt white pastels for the sweater in “Sam and Bobo,” above.

There are several brands of pastel pencils that are made especially for drawing fine details. Sam’s face, hair, and hands are mostly pastel pencil. (Now I probably would not use pastel pencils as much. These days I only use them to draw lines and sign my name).

Another technique for making fine lines is to break a pastel stick and work with an edge.

Years ago I used to sharpen my pastels into a point with a small handheld sharpener (I still have one that allows me to change the blades). Sometimes I rub a pastel stick against a sandpaper pad until I get a somewhat sharp point. The problem with both of these methods is they waste so much pastel and pastels are not cheap! For example, my favorite French brand is nearly $20 per stick. I would never think of sharpening those!

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