Dry Pastels come in ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ varieties and there’s also Oil Pastels. Unlike other mediums, such as oil paints, water colours or acrylics, pastels cannot be premixed by the artist to obtain a required colour, prior to being applied to the art surface. To overcome this, Pastel manufacturers offer a range of tints in many colours. For example, in a given brand there might be five or more different shades of a particular green or blue. As a consequence, there is a vast range of hues on offer to tempt the Pastellist.
The pigments used in pastels are exactly the same as those found in other fine art mediums. The difference between the mediums is simply the various binders which hold the pigments together. Distinct from Pastels, most other mediums require some preparation or mixing prior to use. The great joy of painting with Pastels is that they are ready for use immediately.