PASTELS. Simple, beautiful, and easy art for kids. I love this gorgeous art supply that can be used with even the youngest child. If you are a parent, teacher or caretake, looking to fill your child’s day with more meaningful art, chalk pastels, also known as soft pastels, are a fantastic artful process to start. Just follow these simple tips and you’re on your way to the frame store with your child’s art in no time.
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There are many different brands of soft pastels. We really haven’t come across a brand we didn’t like, though if you’re concerned about toxicity the first one below is a great choice. Here are some suggestions of brands we’ve tried and really like. Michaels Art Supply Store has a bunch that are great, as well as your local art supply store.
The trick to using pastels is to turn them on their side. You can use them at the tip like any drawing material, but the color really comes alive when you turn the pastel on it’s side and rub it either up and down or left to right on the paper. The more pressure you apply, the more vibrant and intense the color will be.
Kids love pastels for many reasons. The colors look so inviting, it’s hard to resist grabbing one and trying it out on the paper. Once you rub the colors back and forth, you can blow away the excess chalk, which is really fun. You can smudge the colors together with your fingers or even your whole hand and you can blend two colors together with your finger making a brand new color. When I hear a lot of smudges, blows and blends in our art studio and I know the kids are totally engaged.
Pastels are also great on different surfaces, especially darker ones, like black construction paper, card stock, slate and cardboard. We recently used pastels all over a styrofoam board left over from a package and it was so much fun to see the texture that showed up all over the styrofoam as we colored.
Pastels are a great introductory art supply for kids of all ages to experiment with. There is a powdery mess that they leave behind but it’s easily cleaned up with a wet rag, even if it gets on the walls. Trust me. I speak from experience. It will definitely get on kids fingers with all the blending and smudging, but a quick hand wash will get the color right off.
*NOTE* If you want to prevent the pastels from smudging after your art work is complete, try hair spray or a spray fixative. I’ve also used spray glue and it’s worked well.
To try out some other great art supplies for beginners and self proclaimed “non crafty moms,” check out this list. Oh, and after you make all these amazing pastel drawings, try these mini art books. Kids love them! Thanks for reading along everyone! Have fun. Meri
What a great idea… you know how sometimes, you just need someone to remind you of thing? You do that constantly so I want to thank you. I have a full box of pastels in my art supply closet and never even thought of bringing them out for Little Miss. She was so excited to see your pictures. We will be breaking them out this week-en for sure.
That makes me so happy. Thanks so much for your message. Have fun with your little miss!
We have a box of pastels that we have barely used… you’ve just inspired me to get them out and have a play!
Yay! Stay tuned for my next post!
these are amazing!! so beautiful. i never think to use pastels. and i love your font treatment, so eye catching. i’ve pinned the top image and people love it!! xoxo bar
Yay! You know that means a lot to me coming from the master!
Ok. So, I really wish I were the mom that didn’t worry about this type of thing, but I just can’t help but wonder: don’t pastels stain clothing? I know I can’t get sidewalk chalk out of my kids’ clothes with anything! Tips? Short of stripping them down to undies while making art?;) Thank you so much for your wonderful site!
See my first comment . . . when I posted I did not think to reply to you directly!
I am a pastel artist, and I have to CAUTION that you should NEVER blow on pastels to disperse the dust. Instead, step outdoors and tap the back of the paper to make the excess fall off. The physical act of blowing causes tiny particles to fill the air and these can all too easily be inhaled — especially by a child who might tend to huff and puff repeatedly! This is enough of a health risk that some artists actually install air filters in their studios to keep the dust to a minimum. Many wear dust masks to further reduce exposing their lungs to the fine pigment particles.
And to answer MEGAN, yes, pastels can be messy. But you introduce children to the new medium slowly, and teach your children how to minimize the mess. You can provide an old adult shirt with the sleeves rolled as a painting smock, shaking it outdoors after each session. Work with pastels either on a table or easel, but when at an easel provide a shake-able rug under the easel just in case a pastel stick is dropped:it will cushion the fall and possibly prevent splintered pastel sticks, and it will be easier to find fallen pieces when doing clean up. I have found the biggest staining danger is to carpeting from tracking tiny pieces of broken pastel. All you need to do is teach a child that cleaning up after doing art is an integral part of the process and you will be laying a wonderful foundation for responsible and independent creation!