Pastel technique for painting became popular in England at the beginning of the 18th century, especially for the portraiture genre. Pastel colors are composed mainly of a pigment linked with a vegetable gum called tragacanth. Applying it with mechanical friction offers the possibility to engage the pigment and create very delicate color fades by only rubbing with your fingertips.
When using a pastel technique for a portrait, it is important to consider the adequacy of the medium. A good paper stuck to a rigid support will improve the quality of the work, and conditions of permanence and stability. Currently, pastel works are performed on manipulated mediums which allows us to work with wet and dry alternatively, giving the technique much more support and possibilities.
Nowadays, pastel technique is done over the base, manipulating three aspects: this way we can work with wet and dry alternatively, being able to use the base and the technique in a better way.
Contrary to what may seem, the pastel technique for painting is one that will maintain its original color over time. Although its main disadvantage is its fragility to mechanical wear, with due protection, work in pastels have a total guarantee of conservation.
Today, some of the most sought-after painters on the market use pastel for their definitive works in large-format, such as the Portuguese artist Paula Rego or Jenny Saville in England.