What are pastels and why are they the medium of choice for pet portraits?
Pastels are unequaled for portraying the layered softness of our pet’s coat. They
also provide a depth of color and delicacy of detail that is not easily equaled in
To begin, though pastels are sometimes mistaken for “chalk”, they are only minimally
similar in their qualities. Pastels, by contrast, are vastly superior in that they
are finely ground pure pigments combined with a binder to make them workable. They
are available as “sticks” and as “pencils” in several consistencies: soft, medium
and hard and each has qualities for particular applications and effects. Because
they are basically pure pigment they are resistant to fading and, as such, museums
display very old pastel paintings that still retain their freshness. (It is advised,
however, as with all paintings in all mediums that exposure to direct sunlight should
definitely be avoided.) They are fragile, however, until protected behind glass
Many years ago when I began creating portraits I used a spray fixative to supposedly
"lock" down the color. The aerosol variety was so strong that it blew some of the
colors away. I then opted for a pump spray so that the fixative would drift down
upon the image. However, what I found disturbing was that any fixative seems to take
the "tops" and "bottoms" out of the artwork. The sparkle and the depth of colors
were gone resulting in a very less dramatic image.
So, for the past many years I decided that I would not spray my artwork at all. It
is important to retain the freshness of color and detail. Of course, I always remind
my client that the surface is fragile until protected behind either glass or acrylic
(note: if acrylic is used, I strongly advise spraying the inside of the acrylic lens
with an anti-static plexiglas spray to alleviate any chance that static electricity
would pull the pastel from the heavy acid-free paper that I use.) I also provide
the option of having the portrait framed prior to shipment. In that way, the artwork
is protected during shipment and, once it arrives, it is ready to be given as a gift
or placed on the wall. It is of very little profit for me but of great "insurance"
for us both. Click here for a selection of handsome frames: FRAMES.
Your pastel pet portrait, if given proper care, will last for generations. A keepsake
and reminder of the love and good times shared with a wonderful pet.