painting or drawing material to color a painting surface

A pastel is an art colour in the form of a stick. It is made of pure powdered pigment and a 'binder' which holds it together. Pastels have been used by artists since the Renaissance.

The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all kinds of coloured art. The effect of pastels is closer to the natural dry pigments than that of any other process.[1] Chalk may be added to the pastel to tone down the more vivd colours.[2]

An artwork made using pastels is called a pastel, pastel drawing or pastel painting. As an adjective the word 'pastel' means pale in colour.


  1. Mayer, Ralph. 1991. The Artist's Handbook of materials and techniques. Viking, 5th revised edition. ISBN 0-670-83701-6
  2. Wilson S. & Lack J. 2008. The Tate guide to modern art terms. London: Tate. ISBN 978-185437-750-0