The art blogosphere has exploded with posts about Pan Pastels since their introduction to the marketplace. Try them out and you will see why so many artists rave about the product. This versatile medium has an amazing ability to be layered and mixed with other mediums. You can put down large areas of color, quickly covering an entire canvas or paper in just a few minutes. They are are great for building a foundation on your painting or starting a background in an art journal.
Pan Pastels are ultra soft pastels, artist grade, and best of all, have a low dust formula. They come in a "cake" form and look like a blush compact or over-sized eye-shadows. They are available in 80 colors. Being artist-grade, they are highly pigmented and last for a long time. The developers, Ladd Forsline and Bernadette War of Colorfin Inc, describe Pan Pastels as “making the colors function like a dry velvety paint.”
Pan Pastels makes a range of sponge tools to put down the color. A larger round sponge is great for covering big areas, smaller sponges with different tips are good for detail work and were created to mimic traditional paintbrushes in shape and function. I tend to use my fingers quite a bit too. You can use Q-tips, baby wipes, or paper towels to blend color. Experimenting is one of the best parts of Pan Pastels, however I've found the soft tools sold by Colorfin to work the best. When you purchase the individual pans you receive some of the soft sponges in the package to get you started.
With Pan Pastels you can put down multiple layers of translucent color. Start with a thin layer of color and then gradually add additional light layers of colors creating a rich depth to your piece. You can start with white or black as a base then lay color on top of the white or black and blend. You can spray fixative (or hair spray) between layers depending on the effect you want.
The translucent quality of Pan Pastels is one of the big differences between Pan Pastels and traditional stick pastels. Stick pastels are opaque. When you work with both mediums the results are astounding. And even better, if you make a mistake, Pan Pastels can be erased with an artist eraser.
One of my favorite ways to use pan pastels is to start with acrylic on canvas or paper and then layer over Pan Pastels. You can also use them with stencils by adding a layer of Pan Pastel color on paper. Next place your stencil where you want your design to go. Then add another layer of the Pan Pastel and watch your design pop. You can do the same technique with VersaMark ink and your favorite stamp. Add a layer of color, then stamp your image in the VersaMark, then add more color. They are a great addition to any scrapbook layout and can be used to shade backgrounds, highlight embellishments, or add color to a photo.
Pan Pastels also work beautifully blended with gel mediums to create different effects giving flavor to your piece. It is very important to keep the actual pan dry. To mix with a wet medium, take the pastel out of the pan with the soft tool and mix on a pallet, non-stick craft sheet, or wax paper then blend
Pan Pastels are a really neat product to add to your art arsenal. They just might quickly become one of your favorite go-to supplies.