And then there are those if us who apply the pastel dust with a brush...bridging the two terms nicely...



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From: Patricia Savage <[log in to unmask]>
Sender: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2011 16:12:07 -0400
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ReplyTo: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [SCIART] Painting Versus Painting

I think the official museum take is that a pastel is a drawing. I think the official pasatelist take is that a pastel, when used to fully render a subject, is a painting. Maybe they will catch up to us! hee-hee!

What do the colored pencilists say? They render color in a line, which Webster defines as a drawing, but their finished work looks like a painting.


Patricia Savage


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On 9/7/11 4:00 PM, Kathleen Garness wrote:
[log in to unmask]" type="cite">And also 'muddying' the conversation a bit is remembering that not all pastels are chalk-based, that there are oil pastels also. ; ) And those can be marvelously thinned and slurped over the support like a watercolor if so desired. So then do you call it a 'drawing'? Or a painting? And is the application process itself in that case called 'painting' or 'drawing'?

I have always tried to avoid the 'paint' versus 'draw' discussion by saying that I 'work' in pastels (and watercolor, and digital, but that's beside the point ; )). A finished piece is either a drawing (if it's a sketch, showing mostly linework) or a painting, if it's full color and fully rendered. But that's just my bias. 

And where along the paint/draw continuum are the fully-rendered sketchbook artworks we do? Is that 'drawing' or 'painting' or something else entirely? : )

At the Art Institute of Chicago, they have their pastels in the "Prints and Drawings" division, if that's any help to this at all. Perhaps other museums have different practices?

Maybe I will email my bud CJBeck and ask him what he thinks. : ) He does wonderful pastel figurative work.

Kathy G

On Sep 7, 2011, at 2:27 PM, Patricia Savage wrote:

Wow! This is a nice thread to come back to!

When I first learned how to "paint" with pastels in college, it was called "drawing". Over the last upteen years (ahem!), pastelists now tend to refer to sketching in pastel as drawing because you are doing more line work than painting and a full fledged piece of artwork as a painting. I believe that there are some artists who learned that "painting" can only be done with a brush or anything that comes from a tube and that anything else is a drawing. Many, many pastelists don't apply pastels as a line, they only use the side and apply the paint in a broad sweep.

I think that for many pastelists, that painting is "the process, art, or occupation of coating surfaces with paint for ...artistic effect" (Webster). Laying down pastel colors for me anyway, is no different than what I do colorwise in oils or watercolor. The biggest differences are that I mix my pigments on the surface rather than on a palette and I'm dealing with chalk and not something liquid (which is what paint is).

We pastelists regularly call our finished work a "painting". Whether this is technically correct or not, we say paints when we refer to our sticks, but this would be confusing to someone who does not paint in pastels and is used to paints meaning something from a tube.

I guess, since for me having painted in pastels and talked to pastelists for so long that the terminology is no longer new, I am wondering at what point in the text does it sound confusing? I went through the text again and need to see it through your eyes. I guess that part you can send to me off-list.


Patricia Savage


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