I am a pastel portrait artist from SA. I find the most challenging part of pastels to be fine detail. I try to capture realistic detail in work, and would like to improve this (sample of work below)
The most frustrating is getting that fine point on pastel pencils and hard pastels. Would love to hear from other pastel artists as to how you tackle this issue, and what techiniques you use.
Thanks so much
Wow ! I think this is beautiful. I'm not a pastel person but I found a web site that stated the following: picking up tiny amounts of oil pastel with a tip of a blender or the sharp edge of a white eraser and apply it that way. I attached the web site like, so you might want to check it out. But I think you did a wonderful job.
Thank you so much Dania. What a lovely site, some great tips!
What a fine eye and hand you have, what a lovely face. What a nice job.
Hi Dominique - I was thrilled to see your post because I was struggling with the same problem again only this morning! Sitting with a sketching group and a model and finding that by the time I want to put in fine detail like flashes of light in the eyes and eyelashes, the charcoal pencil has blunted and before I know it she looks as if she has two eyes, or very large staring ones anyway. Ive been using hard pastels, but even they are so blunt in terms of the fine detail I want to achive. And pastel pencils are so hard to sharpen without falling to pieces. Im hoping someone who is very experienced at these technical details will tell us all how to do it. Sorry its not me, but I am amazed at how brilliantly you are doing your portraits anyway.
Comments and critiques welcome
Oh absolutely, I love really fine detail, and getting that fine sharp tip in a pastel pencil or pastel stick, is a nightmare. I am not the best with an NT cutter, so would love to hear from some pastel artists out there as to how you do this wihtout the frustration!!!!
Will let you know if I hear anything. Thanks for your comments. I am going to upload another of my portraits shortly. Would love to hear any commentry
I have never done pastel, but wouldn't you sharpen them with a razor blade and sand paper?
Dom, your pastel work is lovely. I was admiring the background on one of your other paintings. It is not always easy to do a background especially when you want to change it dramatically. And of course you have done a lovely job on this one.
Thanks so much for your comments Margo - really appreciate the feedback. Nothing better than hearing from other artists!
I normally use a razor blade, its just such a job getting that really fine tip each time, so was hoping there was an easier method.
Backgrounds can be tricky especially with pastel, anyway will keep trying until I feel completely confident in what I do.
I don't do pastels, so no answer to your question, but just wanted to pop in here and give my compliments on your work!
My Pet and Childrens Portrait Website
My FB Page
Thanks so much Robin. Had a look at your site - lovely work!
I agree with Dominique; I like what you have done with your website.
I cannot always get my pastel pencils (Conte) sharp unless I am in my studio where I have an electric sharpener for them, but in the field I take several identical pencils in my most used colors - that way when one dulls, I pick up another one and sharpen them all at home afterwards for the next outing. I have a wonderful friend who uses a small knife to sharpen hers when outside the studio. I am a clutz with knives so I refrain from doing that
Your portrait is absolutely lovely!! I would love to see your website too - what is the link?
I have wondered if electric sharpeners would work - perhaps I should invest in one. I am not the greatest sharpening with a razor blade!
Still busy building a website, bust I have uploaded one of my more recent portraits. Willsend you the link as soon as it is up. Had a look through your site - great work, and great philosophy!!!!
Thanks for your feedback
Thank you so much for the nice compliments on my work and website. It was fun to do, but challenging. I am looking forward to seeing your website as well! Thank you for uploading another gorgeous portrait!! Well done!!
I had a hard time finding an electric sharpener that would work - the one I currently use is a “top loader” and adjustable for different pencil sizes. I could never hold the pencils straight enough for my horizontal sharpeners. I have info on it at home and will let you know the brand name. It also cost under 20 dollars which fit my budget nicely.
Hi Dominique - your portraits are so good!
also Barbara, loved your website.
It would be really good to see the brand of the top loading electric sharpener. If there is anything like that that would work I would be so thrilled as my efforts every other way so far have been pretty unsuccessful and are very hard work and clumsy (I may be a bit of a klutz :-)).