Pastels are chalky sticks comprised of powdered pigment and a binding agent. They come in a variety of textures. Some produce a smooth, solid mark while others make irregular, chalky marks. When using pastels for the first time, artists should experiment with pastels' blending properties.
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Abstract Shapes and Patterns
Having a goal in mind can be too much pressure for beginners. Instead, put a large, heavyweight piece of white paper on the table in front of you and experiment with shapes, lines and squiggles. Draw things that are familiar to you -- circles, curls, jagged lightning bolts, stars and figure-8s. Use both the pointed end and the side of the pastel. Wrap a piece of paper towel around your finger and smear the marks -- first following the direction of the mark and then perpendicular to it -- to see how the pastels react.
Smoke and Fog
There is no right or wrong way to draw smoke and fog -- they are irregular in nature, so they can be irregular on your page. Start with a piece of blue, black or grey heavyweight paper. Use only white and grey pastels to make curly, loopy marks on the page. If you have a very light beige, pale yellow or very light blue, add a few lightly drawn marks and blend with a paper towel wrapped around your finger or an artist's blending stump.
Begin with a piece of white or beige paper. Make long, sweeping marks horizontally across the page with warm colours -- yellow, red, orange and lavender. Vary the length and width of each mark and step back to look at your work after every three or four marks. Add colour with the side of the pastel where you see gaps, and blend areas where there are distinct lines. You will overlap many layers of colour to achieve a blended, natural-looking sunset. To fix, or set your work, spray it with fixative or a thin coat of aerosol hairspray.
Water covers more than half of the surface of the planet in the form of lakes, oceans, rivers and streams. Within those bodies of water, there are waterfalls, babbling brooks and whirlpools. Water acts and looks different in different places, so feel free to draw a picture of water that either resembles something you have seen or is completely unfamiliar. Begin with white or grey paper and remove the blue pastels from your box. Remove the greens, browns, white and greys, too. Approach your art project with fluid movement. Tight grips and small movements of the hand and wrist result in fine lines and tightly controlled marks. As you layer wavy and curling lines across the surface of the page, use large movements with your arm, and blend them until you have the desired watery effect.
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