Pastels – For the Birds!

Bird in the Snow (2)
My little pastel bird doesn’t look like he’s missed too many meals.

I do love drawing birds, and today I wanted to share this fat little fellow hopping around in a bit of snow. I did have a lot of fun drawing him, but this post isn’t actually about birds.

It’s about pastels.

Of all the different media I’ve tried, soft pastels are quickly moving right up to the top of my “favorites” list. As I learn more about how to use them, I’m finding the experience even more enjoyable.


I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about a lot of incredible pastel artists, and I’m awed by their work. Just seeing what is actually possible with sticks of pastel inspires me to keep practicing. I’ve seen some truly stunning pastel works.

I’ve always loved the pastel paintings of Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, and among contemporary artists, I have had the pleasure of discovering the works of Maggie Price and Richard McKinley.

If I’m so fond of pastels and pastel art, why then am I saying it’s “for the birds?” Well, I’m joking, you see. I play around with art a lot, you know, and I’m always looking for ways to make it fun. Recently while watching video lessons on pastels, I had a chance to learn a couple of different application techniques.



I chuckled a little when I read those words, and at once the thought of pastels being “for the birds” crossed my mind. And then, I had to grab a sheet of paper and draw my little bird to prove the point. I didn’t actually use hatching or feathering on the drawing, but it’s good to know those techniques.

Here’s another pastel I did which does use hatching and feathering:

The last time I tried drawing a covered bridge it was so awful I ripped the page out of my sketchbook. This one is a little better.
The last time I tried drawing a covered bridge it was so awful I ripped the page out of my sketchbook. This one is a little better.

By the time I finished this “covered bridge” pastel painting, I was beginning to understand the “feathering” process for the leaves on the trees. I used “hatching” too, to blend different colors. With practice, I’ll get better with these application methods.

Of course, I’ll have to use pastels to draw more birds, too. I love drawing birds, and I really do love my soft pastels.



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