How to Use Pastels on Canvas

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Become adventurous when working with pastels. Although pastels on paper may be the norm, other mediums, such as pastel, can also be used. Achieve an advantage by following new and simple procedures of using canvas rather than paper. Your art will be more durable, as canvas can cope better with harsher treatment than paper. Follow these guidelines and create a painting with pastels on canvas.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Pre-primed canvases
  • Chalk pastels
  • Oil pastels
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • Linseed oil

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Instructions

    Gather Materials

  1. 1

    Decide which type of pastel--chalk or oil--you plan to use. Choose the type of pastel you are more familiar or at ease with. Soft or chalk pastels are similar to what children draw with on sidewalks. Oil pastels have become very popular with professional artists, and are considered easier and more flexible to work with than their chalk counterparts.

  2. 2

    Search for the correct type of canvas at an art supply store. Look for pre-primed canvases, as this type works particularly well with either oil or chalk pastels. Pastels placed on canvases that have an acrylic-based gesso or sheen tend to rub right off and will not adhere to the canvas. Both pastels also require a canvas with a certain amount of "tooth" to adhere to a surface. The "tooth," or texture of the canvas, actually holds the colour in place. Pastels may be great on paper, but they are even more enhanced on canvas.

  3. 3

    Learn the different methods of using chalk and oil pastels on canvas. They are somewhat different than on paper.

    Work With Chalk or Soft Pastels

  1. 1

    Select a technique that you are comfortable with, such as spraying with water, wetting the canvas or brushing. These methods can be done as wet on wet or wet on dry techniques.

  2. 2

    Achieve the spraying approach by using a spray bottle filled with water that releases a fine mist. Blend over the pastels on the canvas with your fingers. You could also alternate this process by using the pastel on the dry canvas first and then spraying the water and smudging. Wet your canvas and draw on the wet area with a soft pastel. Continue to go over the select parts drawn on the canvas with a wet or dry brush. Experiment with the chalk pastels by mixing excess dust in water, dipping in a dry brush and applying on a dry canvas.

  3. 3

    Finish your soft pastel on canvas by spraying with fixative when the painting is thoroughly dry. To give the painting ever more protection, use a spray varnish, available from any art supply store. This will give your painting lasting power.

    Working With Oil Pastels

  1. 1

    Create a painting with oil pastels. Oil pastels have become very popular with professional artists and are easier and flexible to work with than their chalk counterparts. They have also become an alternative to traditional oil paints. The results will be crayons mixed with oil paints. Therefore, they will work superbly on the same type of canvas as their chalky counterparts.

  2. 2

    Develop oil pastels to behave more like oil paints by adding linseed oil. This will allow you the same technical control as if you were painting oils with various brushes. After you finish the painting, allow it to completely dry for 4 to 6 weeks.

  3. 3

    Follow the 4 to 6 week drying stage of your oil pastel on canvas masterpiece by applying four light coats of a fixative. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before adding the additional coat.

  4. 4

    Finish, once the four coats of the fixative layers are thoroughly dry, by spraying the painting with four coats of varnish. Let the painting dry thoroughly between each coat of varnish. By following this process, there may be no need to frame the work under glass.

Tips and warnings

  • Work on a vertical surface such as an easel, so that your chalk dust falls to the floor rather than on you. This will save you having to blow any loose dust off the artwork.
  • The water method can significantly brighten the soft pastel colour on your artwork.
  • Purchase the more expensive oil pastels. The better the grade, the more pigment and less filler you gain, thus giving you more coverage and more colour.
  • Chalk pastels are available in pencil form for easier control and less dust.
  • Soft/chalk pastel artworks last longer if framed behind glass when being exhibited. Even with a coating of varnish, this medium is still more fragile than an acrylic, oil pastel or oil painting.
  • If you use any of the wet techniques while working with soft pastels, remember that the canvas stays wetter longer and needs a longer duration to dry.
  • Oil Pastels can be very pricey, even more than acrylics or oil paints.

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