Someone just asked me these questions in another post:
"What are the differences between the colored pencils [both the wax and oil based
ones] and the pastel pencils? why getting involved with pastels?"
- scumbling - you can't realy "scumble" in colored pencil.
- Blending - you can blend more easily in pastels. This can be a problem if you overblend, but besides being able to more easily achieve a smooth finish (which you may or may not want to do) you can more easily achieve soft edges and not the hard edges so prominent in pencil.
- Pastel & pastel pencils are opaque and colored pencils are semi-transparent. This means that in COLORED pencil every layer will effect each subsequent layer when the lower layers show through the upper layers. Which can be beautiful - but allows less wiggle room and a much more controlled process of steps.
- Pastels are dry.... and colored pencils are either waxy or oily. That means that with colored pencil you can not work past a certain amount of layers without a buildup of either oil or wax which fills up the tooth of the paper. With pastels I have not reached a breaking point with the amount of layers - it seems like you can work forever. This again can be good or bad. Many colored pencil artist "burnish" which means they use the buildup of wax to their advantage - its something I personally don't like doing.
- They just look different. :)
Please feel free to add to this list or contradict what I said. This is my first experience with pastel pencils and these are just some things I found while working with them.
- I am drawn to work in pastel. When I go to galleries, museums or scan through the art magazines at Borders - that is what I seem to like the best. There's something about the softness, the vibrancy, the way the layers lie on top of each other.
- I've always told people that I work more like a pastel artist than a colored pencilist and really I wasn't sure if that was true. It turns out that is right - although maybe a hard pastelist?
- To give the people commissioning portraits from me an alternative to colored pencil - something they've heard of before.
- and finally: To push myself.
When I started colored pencil I started with smooth white paper, moved to other white papers, tried colored paper, then sanded paper... all the while trying different brands of pencils (each of which worked differently). I think it makes you grow when you try new things. Plus I just plain ole enjoyed working on sanded papers and it transformed my work. If I had never pushed myself to try them, where would I be?
Pushing yourself beyond your comfort level makes you grow so much more as an artist/human being. I compare it to my workout routine., I run 40 minutes every morning. If I keep on running at the same pace, same incline, same amount of time everyday my muscles don't grow, but if I push myself to add a little speed or an incline here or there I get stronger.
I'll have an update on the school portrait!