Pastels are made from an earth powder base , its color coming from a series of pigments, which are mixed with very  minimal amounts of oil, water and a gelatinous substance (which plays the role of binder).  They are then agglomerated and compacted in the form of solid sticks, which are painted directly onto a support or with the help of the fingers (hence the name of dry paint).



The raw pigments are the same as those in oil painting. Therefore the level of resistance to light is the same. However, in pastel sticks, pigments are present in much greater proportion than in oil and the other mediums. Hence the vitality, freshness, rich colours characteristic of pastel - no other technique can match them. Painting  with pastels is more like painting with pure pigments.

 Pastel paintings are perfectly  preserved. Pastel don't breaks down with heat; although it is sensitive to light –like all other kinds of painting materials-, its level of resistance to sun light is no lower than oil. Pastel, of course, require protection of glass, like any other material applied on paper or paperboard (watercolor, drawing, printmaking, photography ...). This eventually becomes a great advantage: the picture is protected from air dust; we will never see a pastel blackened by air pollution and dust. Moreover, its composition does not contain organic oils and does not undergo chemical oxidation processes that cause a part of the blackening of other types of paint. Neither do Pastel paintings suffer from cracking.


So then pastel paintings retains the same freshness throughout the centuries. Madame Pompadour's monumental portrait (paint by Quentin de La Tour, the Louvre) remains, after more than two hundred fifty years, with all its richness of colour.

 The first pastels we known date from fifteenth century. Thereafter, from Leonardo to Degas, Monet, Renoir and Picasso, artists of the past five centuries have used the medium as a form of pictorial expression.