Join Traveling Artista by Email

Thursday, April 04, 2019

2019 * Overcoming Hesitancy * Creating Soft Pastels

pastel pieces and dust crushed
For years I have considered creating my own personal pastels from all the left over bits and pieces and pastel dust that I have saved from my boxes and paintings.  Tossing the tiny pieces into little jars, collecting the dust under the paintings as they are created, putting them in jars of similar colors and saving for .. "someday".

Researching various approaches, from very complex to rather simple, I take the leap and try one of the simplest methods possible.  Keeping in mind that:  "A pastel stick consists of pure powdered pigment and an inert binder, such as gum arabic, gum tragacanth, or methyl cellulose.  Pastels have a higher pigment concentration than any other artist medium (hence the rich, luminous colors that pastels can achieve)." [quote from]. 

water & isopropyl alcohol added
Gum tragacanth is not something one has at hand, usually, but I realize that it is already present in the pieces of sticks I have so .. for simplicity?  Just add a bit of water and perhaps isopropyl alcohol to speed the drying time.

Use gloves, a hard surface (preferably glass), crushing tools and blending spatulas (like spackling spatulas from the hardware store).  Use a face mask to protect from pastel dust.   Clean up is a bit of soap and water.
cross-cutting & blending

Take the pieces (it's surprising how they all come to seem the same color on the outside as they hang out in that jar together), crush them (even without fancy tools one can just use the hard, softly curved cover of a jar - and - surprise! what colors are there), slowly add the bit of water/alcohol until the particles adhere.  Continue to blend them until smooth .. it's rather like cutting and kneading bread dough.  Then roll and shape.  Set aside to dry.


New varieties of grays and unique colors are created.  Tiny bits of pastels within can add excitement when applying to the painting.

new pastel sticks drying

It's easier than I imagined!  Try it!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Follow Up:

    (sorry, I tried to link but it won't .. just copy/paste)