most famous pastel artist

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

Final Words

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History has a rich representation of different painting mediums worldwide with a list of the most famous pastel artists of all time to start with. Catering to other painting materials to choose from, pastel paint has reached artists’ hearts worldwide with its unique and vibrant colors. It inspires artists’ taste and fresh color preferences which allow the manipulation of texture to a unique personal touch of blending.

With pastel paints rich pigments, there is more to just color and technique that make them an artist’s favorite medium for creating a wonderfully realistic and velvety texture. Who are all those famous artists taken by pastel paints with excellent composition? Let’s meet them all and know why they love pastel overall characteristics.




Most Famous Pastel Artists

Many artists have executed pastels and made the most of this medium with their paintings.

Odilon Redon

Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916) 

One of the most famous pastel artists is Odilon Redon; he likes pastels. They provide his paintings with the perfect colors and texture that allow realism in his portraits, landscape images, and exquisite marks through pastel painting experimentation. He had permitted pastel paints to reach their optimized consistency of rich and beautiful pigments in his workpiece through his eye for details and proper application and blending of pastels.

He’s a French draughtsman, pastelist, printmaker, and symbolist painter. During his early career, he worked exclusively in lithography and charcoal and most of his works were referred to as noirs. His popularity began after his drawings were credited in an 1884 novel (À rebours). 

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

To this date, Redon is known to be the popular artist who created “dreamlike” artworks that have inspired Japanese arts and continue to draw inspiration from nature. Most of his paintings are considered prosecutors for Surrealism and Dadaism. 

His popular pastel paintings include: 

  • The Buddha
  • Roger and Angelica
  • Rocks on the Beach
  • Jacob and the Angel
  • Portrait of Violette Heymann

Frederick Childe Hassam

Frederick Childe Hassam ( October 17, 1859 – August 27, 1935) 

A successful merchant by blood, known for his incredible paintings of landscapes, nature scenes, and abstract designs of skies and green gardens. Most famous pastel artist and an American Impressionist that showcases pastel painting’s beauty through his artworks.

A must-have art supply for your tiny Van Gogh. The classic colors are always a hit with kiddos, and for the more mature young artist, oil pastels can provide a new medium to engage their creativity and imagination.

His popular pastel paintings include: 

  • Au Grand Prix De Paris (1887)
  • A New York Blizzard (1890)
  • Poppies, Isles of Shoals (1891)
  • Summertime (1891)
  • The Evening Star (1891)

William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase ( 1 November 1849 – 25 October 1916) 

The founder of a famous group of pastel painters in the United States in early 1882, where he was able to include some of the most famous pastel artists as well like the likes of Robert Reid, John Henry Twachtman, and Childe Hassam.

Though the organization didn’t last longer than expected, it had somehow paved the way for four major pastel art exhibitions that help build the reputation of the medium for typical artists alike. Most of Chase’s artworks have huge sizes that are made from canvas and are pastel drawings.

His popular paintings include: 

  •  The Pink Bow
  • A Life in Painting (1883)
  • Still Life (1881)
  • Sunlight and Shadow 
  • Shinnecock: Studio Interior 

Mary Cassatt

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (22 May 1844 – 14 June 1926) 

Inspired by a great friend on pastel painting mediums, Mary then became one of the best pastel painters and was considered one of the most famous pastel artists in her generation that opened doors to support her life while in Paris. Though she experimented with pastel manipulations and blending, her love for children has seen in her portrait subjects. 

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

Every line and delicate form of texture is visible throughout her journey with pastels. She had taken advantage of pastels’ unique characteristics and vibrant color selections with their convenience to carry anywhere she goes.

Her popular pastel paintings include: 

  • Mother and Child
  • Mother in Purple Holding her Child
  • Summertime (1894)
  • Two Sisters 
  • In the Loge (1879)

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas/ Hilaire-Germain-Edgar DeGas (July 19, 1834 – September 27, 1917) 

The most influential artist of his generation gave pastel paints a new look and reputation. He focused on how to enriched pastel painting qualities and introduced the medium to other painters close to him. His journey for pastels allowed the medium to grow and be considered an alternative to oil painting too. 

Throughout his painting sessions, Degas embraced pastel painting and created fully riched artworks for the next generation to study.

His popular pastel painting includes: 

  • Ballet Dancers in the Wings
  • Jockeys in the Rain
  • Portrait of Edmond Duranty
  • Preparation for the Class
  • At the Jeweller’s 

Jean François Millet

Jean-François Millet (4 October, 1814 – 20 January, 1875)

He is considered the first artist to draw with pastel aside from painting with the medium. More or less 90 artworks on his name are all made from pastel paints; his collections promise the perfect mixing of pastel paints that produce their rich and vibrant colors in different applications and techniques.

His popular pastel artworks include: 

  • The Angelus (1857-59)
  • Ploughing a Lonely Furrow (1856 – 1861)
  • Dandelions (1867-68)
  • The Gleaners (1857)
  • Autumn Landscape with A Flock of Turkeys

Most Famous Pastel Artist: Oil Pastels

Oil pastels that are also known as wax crayons are almost the same as oil paintings, though they differ in the application; thus, you can apply oil pastels without any paintbrush. They are a portable medium that can go anywhere the artist wishes to carry them.

Though oil pastels have difficulty staying on the painting surface, using fixatives may be an option. In contrast, fixatives may dull the pigments a little; other artists use a special paper to protect the painting’s surface from getting damaged or smudge.

Henri Sennelier was the origin of why we have oil pastel paintings to this day. Thanks to Picasso who talked him over to creating a more nuanced arts version of this medium way back in 1949, painting with oil pastels was possible and easy for all artists alike.

Jean-Étienne Liotard

Jean-Étienne Liotard (December 22, 1702 – June 12, 1789) 

Renowned oil pastel artist of his time, the most known piece he made was “The Chocolate Girl“. It was picturesque of a lady with her porcelain teacup containing hot chocolate for serving, which is not shown in the background. In those years, hot chocolate was for elite society and was only afforded by wealthy people. Considered as the best of all his oil pastel works to date. 

Popular oil pastel artworks: 

  • The Chocolate Girl
  • Marianne Liotard Holding a Doll (1775)
  • Princess Louisa Anne (1754) 
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

Jean Baptiste Chardin

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (2 November, 1699 – 6 December, 1779) 

One of the most famous pastel artists, he used oil pastels when he did his very own “self-portrait” of oil pastel in 1771. Most of his art crafts are images of chambermaids and domestic helpers, which he considered an inspiration to every art session. To count all of his oil pastel paintings, it will be around 200 pieces throughout his lifetime.

Popular oil pastel artworks: 

  • Self-portrait (1771)
  • Still Life with a White Mug (1764)
  • A Vase of Flowers (1706)

Maurice Quentin De La Tour

Maurice Quentin de La Tour (September 5, 1704 – February 17, 1788) 

Starting his career at the young age of 15, La Tour had 150 oil paintings in his belt, the famous “Playing The Guitar” oil pastel painting was finished in 1742 and now owned by someone out of the public eye.

Popular oil pastel artworks: 

  • Playing the Guitar

Modern Pastel Painters

Andrew McDermott

Intriguing may be an understatement for this modern artist as he depicts all boundaries of contemporary visuals when it comes to pastel painting, his award-winning piece of “Downtown” captured in a scene more likely to compare as a bird’s eye view. He created this painting on a black surface contrary to what others are telling as black is prohibited in pastel painting.

Nancy McDonald

Her award-winning painting “Jewels” showcase her rich fascination with colors and blending them all. Breaking boundaries on color theory and selection, Jewels sets the new standard of vibrant and complex shades.

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

Brennie Brackett

She has mastered the art of composing what she wants to see on her paintings and making sure that she can be amazed at the outcome of the pastel painting that her hands have created at the end of every art session.

Sam Goodsell

Known for his particular focus on playing with his thumbnail sketches, he finds and imagines the perfect direction into his pastel paintings.

Diana DeSantis

A pastel painter focuses entirely on details and key features of all her works as she finds inspiration in each uncertainty of shapes and features.

12 Easy & Popular Pastel Painting Techniques 

Pastel paintings, be it the oil pastel paints or the dry chalk-like sticks are loved by the most famous pastel artists. Because of their renowned portability and rich, vibrant selection of colors that make any portrait realistic by their given colors. 

Pastels’ soft texture makes it easier to manipulate and apply to your desired painting surface. It is an excellent advantage for you to calculate the blending and mixing of colors by your own hands without any paintbrush involved.

  • Scumbling

The scumbling technique requires applied controlled pressure by creating scribbled marks on top of your oil pastels. This allows you to build extra layers of multiple colors to achieve your desired texture and value. 

  • Blending with Heavy Pressure

This pastel technique is ideal for beginners exploring this rich and vibrant medium. It allows you to generously use oil pastels in a single direction from your support or pastel paper. You can add an extra layer of colors on the first layer to build a rich and blended appearance. 

You can use and explore with white or black pastels for shadow or highlight effects. 

  • Blending with Light Pressure

This pastel technique requires you to use light pressure when adding colors to your painting surface. You can layer more colors for you to achieve your desired hues or values.

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
  • Color Mixing

Mixing pastels colors directly on your paper or surface is the best way to blend your colors. While it may seem a straightforward approach, this technique requires an extensive amount of time to practice and achieve your desired color mixture. 

Apply a rich color layer then apply another color on the first layer. It’s highly recommended to use primary colors first since you’ll be experimenting with the results. Then continue to layer or blend extra colors to help you achieve your preferred hue. Work out on this technique if you’ll be creating nature landscape drawings. 

  • Sgraffito

Sgraffito’s pastel technique is all about overlapping two layers of thick pigments from your painting medium. With a sharp item like a wood stylus or paper clip, you can scrape or scratch away designs or lines and reveal the colors beneath the thick medium surface. 

  • Stippling

The stippling technique is the process of using tiny, choppy pastel strokes and creating a stippled effect on the support. try layering additional hues to build depth while learning 5the technique.

  • Using Oil

Blending oil pastels can be a challenge especially if you are starting with this painting medium. Thankfully, you can use baby oil to smooth the pastel surface and allow the colors to blend. The surface will require overnight to completely get dried.

  • Drawing Using The End Of The Pastel

One of the simplest ways to work on your pastel is by drawing using their ends. This can be done by holding the pastel similar to how you hold a pen or a pencil. The result of drawing with pastel’s end is expressive. 

You can alter the pastel’s thickness by using various pressures when applying your pastels on the surface. The harder the pressure, the more pigments you’ll be putting on the surface. If you prefer light and thinner liners, you have to provide gentle pressure on your pastels.

  • With Pastel Edge

For quick artworks using pastels, you can work on the edge of your hard, chalk, soft, or oil pastels. This allows you to create color blocks using the pastel stick’s side. What’s interesting about pastels is that even the smallest piece can be used for your artwork. 

To get the best results, break your pastel sticks and use the first half. Same as using the end of your pastels, if you’ll alter the pressure used when applying pastels will allow you to create various values and textures on the paper. If you have used both edges, the results give you sharp edges where you can work on creating fine lines. 

  • Hatching/Cross hatching

If you tried drawing with your pastels, the hatching and cross-hatching is an easy technique for you to work on. This will be familiar for you as it’s most ideal if you work with hard pastels or pastel pencils. 

The hatching technique is about creating thin sets of lines (parallel) that are drawn closely, Cross-hatching technique is the proceeding step after hatching. You’ll need to draw sets of lines that are an angel from your previous parallel line sets. 

These techniques are ideal for initial blocking on your pastel painting. It enables you to explore and experiment with tones and colors flexibly and loosely without creating the final composition.  

  • Feathering Technique

Feathering techniques are also known as the fine-tuned version of the hatching technique that uses short strokes. The results are like scumbling which gives your painting vibrancy. It’s also ideal for optical color mixing like a pointillist painting. This technique allows the spectator to mix the colors with their eyes and blend the pigments on the paper. 

  • Pastel Dusting

If you have done working with your scumbling technique, dusting your pastel can give you other stunning results. Dusting pastels can be done by holding your pastel over your block of pigments and scraping the surface of your stick for dusting. 

Once you are satisfied with the pastel dust on top of your surface, you can use your palette knife to apply pressure on the pastel dust from your pastel paper. 

6 Most Famous Pastel Artist
6 Most Famous Pastel Artist

Factors To Consider When Buying Pastels

Before purchasing a complete set of pastels for your next painting session or if you want to explore the vibrant colors of pastels, there are factors that you need to always consider. This will give you a better overview of how to purchase the right painting materials suitable for your needs. Here’s what you need to consider: 

  • Colors

Unlike other painting mediums, pastels can be blended but they won’t mix very well. That is why most pastels manufacturers offer a massive color selection for every artist of this painting medium. 

You can purchase pastels individually or in sets of colors. For newcomers to this painting medium, you need to identify which type of pastel you will be using. You can opt for soft, hard, chalk, stick, or oil pastels. If you’re still deciding which pastel to work on, you can buy several colors of various types and see which fits your style and requirements. This will narrow down your cost and allow you to explore and experiment for improvements. 

Once you’ve decided on the type of pastel you want to work with, you can invest in buying sets or create your color range and palette. You’ll notice that several pigments can be pricey compared to others as this varies with the color’s rarity or production. 

  • Quality

Pastels come in two quality types: artist-grade and student-grade. There is a huge difference between the two when it comes to composition and pigment quality. 

Artist-grade pastels contain more high-quality pigments that come with a higher pigment ratio over the binder. They are more vibrant, stronger, and have more intense colors. Artist-grade paint pastels have higher permanence ratings which allow the paint to last longer without worrying the surface will fade. They can be more pricey too. 

Student-grade pastels are more affordable and usually made from cheap and low-quality pigments. This type of pastel has more binder and filler ratio over pigments. They don’t provide less intense colors. However, the good thing about student-grade pastels is they won’t crumble easily compared to artist-grade pastels. 

Pastels contain higher pigment levels compared to other painting mediums which makes them more pricey. For most beginners, you can purchase a set of colors to practice and improve your skills. Once you have established your painting skills, you can invest in buying individual colors. 

  • Safety

Safety is vital when it comes to purchasing or investing in pastel as your painting medium. Since soft pastels produce dust that is mixed on thin air, there is a huge possibility that you’ll inhale it. This is a major concern over the years for most pastel artists. 

The good news is that as we advance in technology, the painting essentials we are using are also upgrading, including pastels. Now you can purchase various types of pastels that are ACMI-certified safe and non-toxic, making them ideal, even for young artists to use them. Though there are plenty of non-toxic pastels out there, taking extra precautions to avoid breathing dust particles is still your top priority. 

Some pastel artists wear protective gear like face masks but it can be uncomfortable. If the weather is nicer and you can work outdoors, in a well-ventilated area, it’s more ideal than working with your pastels on your studio or close doors. You can also invest in an air purifier to ensure the air inside your studio is safer and relieves everyone from potential allergic reactions.

What Are Pastels Good For? 

With the vibrant, rich, vivid, and fresh colors that pigments offer, there is no way an artist won’t love pastels. While they are fragile by nature and offer a powdery texture that makes them a perfect medium for layering tons of colors, blending, and creating unique painterly effects, they are an overall crowd favorite. 

Even the smallest pastel stick can be used and work perfectly on your painting surface. Whether you are using soft or hard pastels, you can work on their edges and still create blocks of colors or define thin lines. You can use pastel when working with details and even initial sketches. 

Overall, pastels are a versatile and flexible painting medium. You don’t need to invest in tons of painting essentials as you can use pastels with your bare hands. What you need is high-quality paper and you’re all set for pastel drawing or painting. 

Final Words

Want to learn more about pastels and how to preserve pastel paintings without getting smudge properly? Click here for more information

If you have recommendations and feedback regarding these products, you can comment down below.






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