Pastels are a more ancient and honored medium than oils. There are many done by famous artists hanging in the museums today, hundreds of years old and looking fresher than oils of the same age. They do not fade, crack or turn yellow.  If cared  for properly they can last for thousands of years.

Pastels are not chalk, but the same pure pigment that is found in oils, with a dry binder rather than oil. Because of this the colors are brighter, clearer and more delicate.

This brilliance is the reason they are preferred over oil for portraits. Pastel portraits are permanent. Their life depends on you. Handle with care as you would fine china. Avoid rough handling or dropping.

"Pastel does not at all refer to pale colors, as the word is commonly used in cosmetic and fashion terminology. The name Pastel comes from the French word "pastiche" because the pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste, with a small amount of gum binder, and then rolled into sticks. The infinite variety of colors in the Pastel palette range from soft and subtle to bold and brilliant." Pastel Society of America

Historically, Pastel can be traced back to the 16th century. Its invention is attributed to the German painter Johaim Thiele.

A Venetian woman artist, Rosalba Carriera was the first to make consistent use of Pastel. Chardin did portraits with an open stroke, while LaTour preferred the blended finish. Thereafter a plethora of famous artists... Watteau, Copley, Delacroix, Millet, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Latrec, Vuillard, Bonnard, Glackens, Whistler, Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Mary Cassett, just to list the more familiar names, used Pastel as finished work rather than preliminary sketches.

An artwork is created by stroking the sticks of dry pigment across an abrasive ground, embedding the color in the "tooth" of the paper, sandboard or canvas. If the ground is completely covered with Pastel, the work is considered a Pastel painting; leaving much of the ground exposed produces a Pastel sketch.

Techniques vary with individual artists. Pastel can be blended or used with visible strokes. Many artists favor the medium because it allows a spontaneous approach. There is no drying time, and no allowances to be made for a change in color due to drying.