pastels aren’t just for baby clothes

the other day i decided to bust out the pastels on N… oil pastels and chalk pastels, both. just because they are called pastels, doesn’t mean they’re always pale and muted — these art materials make vibrant marks!

if you’re not familiar, oil pastels glide across a page much like a really slick, smooth crayon might. (kind of like N’s creamy crayons, which we love, but they’re more narrow. kind of the diameter of a crayon.) they smear and blend together really nicely, unlike crayons.

chalk pastels are like a higher quality chalkboard chalk… they have a finer dust particle that makes a total mess for really pretty smudges when blending. so we just spent the morning playing around with these new materials, which are usually reserved for mommy, so that made it exciting for the little one.

oil pastel image of a person & duck (labeled!)

N made a few cool pictures with each medium. with the chalk pastels, we practiced smudging and blending colors with our fingers. some kids (uh, and adults, including me) may not enjoy the dry, dusty feeling of the chalks, or may become frustrated by the way their picture changes, smears, and becomes littered with fingerprints while working. other kids (and adults) really delight in this sort of mutable material. chalk pastels are great to use for learning how to mix primary colors together to make secondary colors.

flower study in chalk pastels

i brought the chalk pastel piece outside (without her) to spray it with a fixative spray (see link at the bottom of this blog for product info.) if you make art with the chalks, it will continue to smear and smudge unless you use some sort of fixative on it, but be sure to spray it where there’s good ventilation and away from tiny lungs.



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  • I also find that chalk pastels can be a good metaphor about loosing some control, making a mess, and still have a beautiful end result.
    I think its great that N is already experiencing these materials!

  • jen

    i completely agree. they are one of the more loosening materials – like watercolor – in that the artist is forced to give up some control over the finished “product” and really listen to the materials.