|Concert deans le Jardin by Kate Sumners|
Why the Confusion?Well, the English language is a tricky thing.
The word "pastel" can mean:
- a noun, for an artwork whose medium is pastels
- a verb, meaning to produce an artwork with pastels
- an adjective, meaning pale in color
The art medium is what we are discussing here, and it is artwork of any color made from a pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all colored art media; they can include light, dark and mid tones. Pastel artwork can be vibrant, dark and dramatic. It can be anything the artist makes of it. Pastels are a unique medium in that the colors are mixed on the paper or board by overlaying or blending, rather than on a palette.
What is Pastel Artwork, Painting or Drawing?
So What is Pastel Artwork, Drawing or Painting?
Short answer: it may be either! Here is one of the best explanations I have found about what the difference between a drawing and a painting is, from author Eric Hebborn (and it has nothing to do with dry vs. wet)
"In a drawing the contours of shapes or forms are made with a line, whereas in a painting contours are created by the meeting of two or more areas of different tone or color."
In other words, when fully covered with pastel, the work is called a pastel painting; when not, a pastel sketch or drawing.
As a portrait artist I have often had to resort to asking my clients whether they prefer a black and white or color portrait just to avoid using the word pastel because so few people understand the medium, and I think that's a real shame.
Pastel is a fantastic medium and also is one of the oldest media out there. It was loved by Leonardo da Vinci, Manet, Gaugin, Degas, and many others. It is formed using almost pure pigment which leaves a brilliance of color not found in other mediums. The result is visually stunning and very textural and diverse. Whether drawing or painting, pastel artwork is not to be missed!