Pastels have been manufactured as an artist's medium since the 15th century.  The Pigment rich medium became a popular choice in 18th century portrait painting, and eventually found its way into mixed media painting. Today Pastels are a very popular medium used on their own for portraiture, plein-air and studio painting. Artist's have many professional brands of pastel from which to choose - unique color palettes and selections; expansive color ranges; and a wide array of artist selected sets!... Click below for more information on Pastel types.

Soft Pastels are the purest form of artist color, made almost exclusively from pure artist pigment with only enough binder to allow them to be formed into useable sticks. A pastels composition and characteristic is dependent on the type of binder (such as gum arabic or gum tragacanth) and additional components like clay or chalk added by the manufacturer. Pastel consistency ranges from hard (Nupastel) to very soft (Schmincke) with many variations in between. Some pastel brands incorporate pumice in the binder to abrade the paper and create more tooth.