Pan pastel with Jessica

Today I went to a workshop on Pan Pastels with Jessica Chao.  Her background is in oil/acrylic and print making techniques.  She found pan pastels to be a different way to draw almost-sculptural.
Pan pastel has a richness. She doesn’t like the other kind of pastels because it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Here is the list of materials she uses:

  • Faber Castell Pitt pens
  • Clay board
  • Scratchboard (made with India ink )for pan pastel metallic.
  • Pencils.
  • Fixative Spectrafix, Krylon, or GrumbackerJessica's Art
  • Sponges
  • Chamois
  • Drawing pads or newsprint can be used to clean brushes
  • Etching pen or push pin
  • Erasers

She asked us to try out the techniques as she demos them on the clayboard she gave us.  She recommends that you start  with dark color as you can erase later to put in highlights.

Orange shade is the color she began with. Pan pastels come in tints and shades. Rub it on with chamois. Use Gloves in Bottle to protect from cadmium colors.  You can create soft glowing effect. Start with a smooth surface because you can use sponges without tearing them up. You can load up a lot Jessicaof pigment to get a rich effect.  Add a layer of fixative between layers. Phalo green extra dark. You can layer colors. Similar to airbrush. Can block off areas. Can use stencils. Plastic ruler to mask things off. Using the handled tools and ruler can create interesting effect. Using turquoise then black. Completely abstract. Experiment with masking fluid, denatured alcohol. Colorless blender more translucent. Seamlessly blend two colors. White will just highlight it. Effects are similar to spray paint.

Clean chamois and sponge brushes on paper towel or run it under water. You will need to wait for it to dry before reusing. Tap it on paper towel or turn it over. Other colors to use are Pearl medium iridescent, black and white metalic (with  grit for more texture; fine for more even toned metallic). Now using pure orange. If color not sticking well, use fixative.

Subtractive work

Using a mono zero  combo eraser. Using a ruler and then eraser can take out most of pastel. If you erase too much you can go back in. Use an etching needle for fine line. Can use push pins for etching.

New eye shadow type brush can use all sides. Feels like a paint brush. Work flat. Use a maul stick so you don’t rub over your work.  Line work can be done on top of pastels.

Jessica does her pencil drawings first. Then she will  transfer to clayboard use carbon paper. Plan work and do a lot of sketches.

Scratch board

Usually you would use an etching needle on a scratch board like working backwards. However,  Pan pastels will show up on the board. Mixing white is very transparent vs titanium which is opaque. Using metallic pastels, outline and then fill in petals. Etching needle will leave a brighter effect as it will turn white on scratch board. Soft scratching to pastel or make shadows. Rub away with paper towel if get something in the wrong place. Even the regular pan pastels colors will pop. Blend with colorless pan pastel after you fix  your color. That way you can add more color on top. Use the Colorless blender with a clean tool.Scratch board

To finalize the pieces using a soft sponge and metallic silver. Lightly apply a little sheen.

Experiment with it. Very direct yet surprising. Keeps going a long way without recharging brush. Use Dark pastels so you can pull out highlights. Phalo blue extra dark. Bigger the brush larger area you can cover.


Mono zero pencil type eraser. Can get back to original.
Factis is soft eraser. You can carve into eraser to create points, angles etc. It can erase over the inked areas. Can go back with chamois to fix unwanted lines.

Final Fix

Use a dusting brush to get rid of crumbs. You can do a lot of reworking before the final fixing. Shake fixative really well and prop up picture. 12 inches away. Not too close. Light fine mist apply thin and let dry in between. Can be put behind glass.

Other ideas.If you use an Acrylic by Krylon gloss or matte then you don’t need glass.

Varnish?? Isolation coat. Thin and put in aerosol and spray. Varnish can be removed.

Ampersand also makes the wrapped canvas look so you don’t need to frame it. Grummbacher also makes a fixative

This is a new way of using pastels and you can use a lot of different media with it.  They go a long way but the initial cost is high.  Anyone interested in trying it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.