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Tutorials and artistic advices

Selecting the right accessories for working with pastels

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You need just a few accessories to work with pastels under the right conditions. Guided tour of the pastellist's survival kit!


1. Thinners and fixatives


  • White spirit and turpentine (oil pastels): for blending or correcting colors. Save used paintbrushes and rags just for this use.

  •  spray fixatives (dry pastels): to reinforce the adhesion of pigments between each layer of color, keep them from mixing, and for when you've finished your piece.



Trick of the trade: hair spray makes a good substitute for fixatives!


2. Basic tools


For mixing, cutting, stumping, correcting…

2.1. Les incontournables

  • Mixing and stumping tools: cotton, cotton swabs, rags, blotters, blender brushes, stumps (pointed sticks made from rolled paper)… and, of course, your hands!
  • Kneaded eraser (or, failing that, some crustless bread).
  • Utility knife or exacto knife (metal handle for interchangeable blades): for sharpening your sticks or reducing them to powder; for scraping off a superficial layer of color.
  •  Adhesive tape or drawing clips.
  •  Blotters and masking tape, for protecting areas where you aren't working and for defining margins.
  •  Tracing paper if you plan to create stencils.
  • Other media:  dry (charcoal for sketching) or wet (watercolor or ink for coloring the paper, gouache or acrylic for composing mixed pieces…).
  •  An acrylic primer for texturing the support medium or making it compatible for use with pastels. Essential for working on non-absorbent surfaces: wood, art board, high grammage papers (over 300g/m2), or linen canvas, for example
  • .A fine rag collection…


2.2 For pros

  • A sharpener, made with wide stripes of sandpaper attached to a base for reducing your pastels to powder.
  •  Maulstick: this wood stick with a ball at one end is for working without resting your palm on your work.


Zoom: Your workspace

Because pastels are a pulverizing medium, you should work on them on an inclined or even vertical plane: standing easel, table top easel, or multi-directional drawing table.

  •  Attach your work to a separate drawing board that you can turn as needed.

Suggested products

Canson® Mi-Teintes® Touch

See also

Pastel & Colour: Preparing your material
Préparer son matériel pour le pastel
Because pastels are a dirty technique, they require some methodical organizing. Here are a few suggestions for preparing your material so you can draw cleanly, with peace of mind!
Pastel & Colour: Cleaning, maintaining and preserving your material
Nettoyer, entretenir, conserver son matériel pastel
You don’t need to be a cleaning fanatic to keep your pastels in shape… But watch out, they're fragile and messy, so you need to take some precautions! Overview.