As soon as I picked up my first stick of pastel, I knew that this was a medium that I could speak with. Pastel allows me to have physical contact with the painting, if I need to adjust an edge or a tone, I can just touch it with my finger and make it happen. It is also a wonderful medium to use for depicting a wide variety of textures.
I select the pastel color sticks that I will use for the painting and keep them in a tray on the easel. I am always thinking in tone, I pick light, middle tone and dark versions of all the different colors. I may also add a few other colors in these tones as needed during the painting. The great advantage of this is that I can see the color range that will eventually make up the painting right at the beginning.
The paper or board surface needs to have a ‘tooth’ to hold the particles of pigment that are deposited when the stick is stroked over the surface. I never use a fixative on my pastel paintings.
When I started painting in pastel, the surfaces to paint on were quite limited. Now there is an enormous range of wonderful materials available in this medium.