What Are Non-Traditional Pastels?

My pastel workspace

My pastel workspace

My studio is where I both make something happen and let something happen with the beautiful non-traditional pastels trademarked as PanPastels™.  Many people have asked me about my medium and process. I decided the best way to share that information would be in a series of posts here on Art Talk.  Today I'll start with an overview of PanPastels™. New posts will explain the way I use the product and how I set up my workspace.

PanPastels™ were developed by artists Ladd Forsiline and Bernadette Wild. Their aim was to produce dry color that would work like fluid, mixable paint. PanPastels™ are the first real innovation in pastel-making since…well, since the first pastels. You can visit their website www.PanPastel.com for a complete look at the product and all the accompanying materials, plus a video on basic techniques and an informative blog. The biggest innovation is that the pure artist-grade pigments come in little pans like compacts that are then applied using various tools. Very little binder is used so the pastel is VERY soft.

Good reasons for trying this product are: less dust to track all over and to inhale, mixability (with no drying time) of the pigments to create any color you might want, and affordability and economy. The product can be used to underpaint or highlight, or in mixed media work and also as a primary medium which is the way I use it.

 A few words about mixable pastels…As a pastel artist, mixabilty is a strange idea and one that takes getting used to if a person doesn’t have a background in oil or acrylic painting. But, learning to mix PanPastel™ colors to create your own unique colors is exciting and fun.

A few words about my language…I use the term non-traditional pastels to emphasize the fact that PanPastels™ are not the same in form or performance as traditional stick pastels. Most people don’t make this distinction because they use PanPastels™ in combination with traditional pastels. Because the pastels in my work are exclusively PanPastels™, I think it makes sense to identify the medium more specifically.  In entering shows and competitions affiliated with The Pastel Society of America, it is acceptable to not make this distinction as the national organization recognizes the product as pastel. Also, in future posts, I will just use the name PanPastel without the trademark symbol since I am clearly identifying it here as a trademarked product.

Next time, I will talk more specifically about the way that I use the product; mixing color, applicators, and surfaces.