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Pastel Hints & Tips


Pastels are an amazing medium, I love the way I can use my fingers to apply the pigment and work the colours into the paper. There are many brands available and each ranges from soft to hard.  The ones listed here are the pastels that I use the most:



Art Spectrum

Mount Vision

Mungyo (student quality, used in my workshops)

Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils allow you to create finer, smaller details. I also use the white pencils a lot to sketch out my initial subject.  There are many brands available and each ranges from soft to hard.  Use a make up sharpener (such as Bodyshop or Manicure), they're gentle and won't chew your pencil. The ones listed here are the pastels that I use the most:

Faber Castell Pitt



Stabilo Carbothello 

Paper & Primer - do it yourself


I use a thick, acid free matboard paper that is approx 3mm thick (330 gsm or heavier recommended).  It is available in large sheets of 81 x 102 cms (32 x 40 inches), which you can then cut up into smaller sizes. You can purchase this in any colour, this is because I apply a pastel primer to the paper which covers the paper surface. 


I apply Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer onto my matboard using either a paint brush or small roller.  This is a fine tooth, quick drying acrylic primer which bonds aggressively to practically any clean, dry surface. There are 20 colours available in 250ml pots.  The sandpaper surface gives the pastels something to grip onto and you can add several layers of pastels without clogging the paper. 


Art Spectrum's Colourfix Primer

Art Spectrum's Colourfix Primer, Smooth

Paper & Primer - ready made

You can buy pastel paper that has already been primed, these often come in A4 or large sheets of 40 x 30 cms, these are the options:

Art Spectrum pastel paper 

Canson Mi-Tentes pastel paper

Easel & Board


Your easel is very important in terms of maintaining your posture.  I definitely recommend one that you can adjust to your height and is sturdy enough to hold both a MDF board and your matboard paper. 


MDF boards are available at most hardware stores, a good size to get started is 900 x 600 x 3mm. I tape my matboard paper to the board so it remains flat while I paint. 

Other Equipment

Here some other items that I use that I have found useful as a pastel artist: 

  • 48mm masking tape - used to stick your matboard paper to your board, any masking tape will do

  • 12mm masking tape - used to frame your painting, low tack ideal so it doesn't rip your paper surface, I only use Hystik

  • 1 metre ruler - used to measure your subject that you initally sketch, it helps to have a ruler that's larger than A4

  • Old brushes - if you make a mistake, you can simply use the brush to remove the pastel from your primed matboard 

  • Damp wipe/chux - once the pastel is removed, you can then wipe your primed mat board take it back to the original acrylic colour 

  • Container - used to store your smaller, broken pastel pieces.  The clear plastic boxes used to store screws (found in hardware stores) or smaller tupperware containers are useful

  • Stanley knife - to cut your matt board

  • Cutting matt 

  • Steel Ruler

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