"Crossing Grid Branches", Pastel and Charcoal on paper, 22T"x30W", 2014/02/14
The word pastel brings to mind light sun bleached colors. Drawing pastel medium is anything but the light chalky colors you will find your kids classroom. You can get the entire rainbow of colors including the deepest blacks and vivid colors.
Soft pastels are, simply put, high test chalk. But instead of using a white limestone as the primary pigment with tints to achieve color they are pure color pigment with a little binder and filler. Some pastels use fillers to vary the hardness, tint, and cost of end product.
Traditional pastels use gum tragacanth as the binder but modern pastels use methyl cellulose. Oil pastels, as the name suggests, use a non drying oil such as coconut oil and paraffin wax to alter the hardness of the pastel. Crayons use wax as the binder. And there are various other binder mixes to give a range of hardness and they all fall under the general category of Pastels as a dry drawing medium.
I use soft pastels and a medium grade hardness pastel called Conte crayons. I do not like oil pastels primarily because they use non drying oils, and I find the oil soaks into and discolors any exposed paper substrate and they cannot be erased. I also am not a fan of regular wax crayons due to the workability of the medium and again the inability to erase.
The eraser is by far my favorite drawing tool. While I do use paper stumps (tightly rolled paper in the shape of a pencil), dry brushes, and chamois for blending, in addition to my fingers, I by far prefer a medium soft eraser. For me every mark needs to be modified, added to or erased. The eraser not only removes material it also blends and drives the pigment down into the paper. This gives an entire new type of making and toning that the pastel will not do on its own. It can also add a lot of gestural energy to the original marking.
I have big fat erasers, soft erasers, hard erasers, and erasers which are only two millimeters wide in a mechanical pencil type holder. If it can be drawn, it can be erased.