How to Use Chalk Pastels

Because of their versatility and ease of use, chalk pastels have become a popular choice for many artists. Mistakes can also be removed easily which is also a great plus. Below we outline some suggestions for working with pastels. For details about the different types of chalk pastels, visit our article Chalk Pastels.


•Paper or canvas
•Hard chalk pastels, Soft chalk pastels, and/or pencil pastels
•Blending tool such a cotton ball or swab, soft cloth, etc.
•Fixative Spray

How to Use Chalk Pastels

Chalk Pastels Paper
Fabriano Paper
Chalk Pastels Paper
Velour Paper

1. Select the right paper for your project. The art will be affected by the color and texture used. Fabrian paper is commonly used and it comes in a variety of colors. Other types of papers include velour for soft effects, sanded paper for details and textured paper to give a ribbed look. To purchase Fabriano paper visit this page. To purchase Velour paper, visit this page.


2. Place the paper on the easel. Using an easel will diminish the amount of chalk dust that remain on the paper. To provide cushion, you can place several papers behind your piece. The easel shown above comes with a drawer to store supplies. You can find out more about about is by visiting this page.

3. To create broad strokes, hold the pastel chalk broadside between your thumb and index finger.

4. For thin lines, use either a pencil pastel or a sharpened hard pastel chalk while holding the chalk at an angle.

5. To create lighter tones, hold the chalk with less pressure.

6. To create darker tones, apply more pressure while drawing.

7. To blend two adjacent strokes of color, use your finger to produce a burnished look. Remember to clean your fingers often to avoid undesirable effects.

8. To create brushing effects, use blending tools such as cotton swabs, soft dry paint brushes, or tissues.

9. Finally, after the piece is completed, be sure to use a spray fixative to hold the color in place. A common spray to use is hair spray. Be sure to spray evenly. The painting will appear darker after this process, but it should dry out within a couple of hours.

Chalk Pastels

Chalk pastels, sometimes called pastels chalk,  are an excellent choice for art work. They are easy to use and mistakes can be easily removed. Art chalk pastels are versatile and can be used to produce a variety of textures and colors.

Types of Chalk Pastels

White Chalk
White Chalk

Natural chalk is produced by underwater organisms and is mostly white, though at times can be grayish or red depending on the mineral deposits. Today, synthetic materials can mimic the properties of chalk. Chalk, whether natural or synthetic, is an important ingredient in hard and soft pastels.

Soft Pastels Chalk
Soft Pastels Chalk

Soft chalk pastels also contain water, pigment and a smaller amount of artificial binder or chalk. As the name implies, these pastels are soft and malleable and create a smooth, smudgy lines on a canvas. They don’t mix on a palette, so it is recommended that an artist have many shades available. However, soft pastels blend when on the paper or canvas.

Chalk Pastels
Hard Chalk Pastels

Hard pastels sticks are chalk, water and pigment put together. Colors are washed out due to the white chalk and become pale. When used in art paper, these pastels create sharp lines. They can’t hold a point like a pencil, though. Art made with hard pastels look like charcoal or soft pencil work in look and consistency. Hard pastels work well when drawing details.

Pencil Pastel, Pastel Pencils
Pastels Pencils

Pastel pencils use chalk-based pastel in their core instead of lead as regular pencils. Because of this, they can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener. They work well when drawing fine lines.

Oil pastels attempt to achieve the look and texture of oil paints rather than the dry look of chalk. They use liquid binders like waxes and oils to hold pigment in the form of a stick. Because of their consistency, they can be mixed in canvas or palette much like regular paints. The color they produce is usually more vibrant thank soft or hard pastels.