Pastel is pure, finely ground pigment, mixed with enough binder to form a thick paste. It is then formed into a pastel stick and dried.
Pastel stays just the way you see it, it always looks fresh. It sits on the painting surface and is not mixed with a liquid binder, therefore, it will not dull, fade, crack, yellow or blister the way oil or watercolour may. Pastel is a “dry” paint.
Pastel is the most lasting of all mediums, and properly framed behind glass, using acid free materials, they are virtually permanent.
The painting surface I use, is the most popular classic French pastel paper, Canson Mi-Tientes. It is a heavy paper with a high (65%) rag content to ensure long life without deterioration. It is coloured in the pulp so it is highly light resistant and acid free.
The original pastels are NOT sprayed with a fixative. It can change the colours dramatically and can alter the soft look of pastel.
I work with a variety of brands, sticks, pencils and Pan Pastels. Usually the harder the pastel will allow more detail to be achieved. Each stroke of pastel is blended in a variety of ways, from my finger, paper towel, sponge tip brush and stiff paint brushes.