Hobbies Fine Arts & Crafts Get Started on Your Pastel Artwork with a Pastel Art Supplies List Share PINTEREST Email Print Claire Plumridge / Getty Images Fine Arts & Crafts Painting Supplies Basics Lessons & Tutorials Techniques Drawing & Sketching Arts & Crafts By Marion Boddy-Evans Marion Boddy-Evans is an artist living on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. She has written for art magazines blogs, edited how-to art titles, and co-authored travel books. our editorial process Marion Boddy-Evans Updated April 10, 2018 When you decide to start painting or drawing with pastels, the choice of art supplies available can be overwhelming and confusing. But like starting any new hobby, first, assemble the basics. When you become proficient or decide that you really like the medium, then it's time to upgrade, experiment, and compare different brands, quality, etc. Here's an art supplies list of what you need to start using pastels. Pastel Paper Different brands of pastel paper have different textures or surfaces to give the pastel something to grip onto. This can be quite prominent, such as a honeycomb pattern, or simply a slight roughness to the paper. It's worth trying a few brands to see which you prefer. Pastel Colors Google Images Don't get intimidated by all the pastel colors available. Begin with a starter set, and build up from there by either buying further sets or individual sticks. If you buy half-sticks rather than full-sized pastels, you'll get a wider range of colors for your money. Fixative Google Images To fix or not to fix is a perennial pastel painting question. Use too much, and it'll darken the colors. Apply none at all and your artwork may be ruined by a careless smudge. If you want to use hairspray as a fixative, you'll want to experiment first, rather than try it out on a piece that you worked hard on. The hairspray could come out in bigger, wetter, oilier (if it contains conditioner) drops than artists' fixative. Sketchbook for Practicing sketchbook with pastels. MIXA Part of learning a medium is to spend time practicing and playing, not aiming to produce a finished artwork every single time. If you practice in a sketchbook rather than on top-quality paper, you're more likely to experiment. An Easel Peter Dazeley Getty Images Easels come in various designs, but try a floor-standing, H-frame easel because it's sturdy and you can step back regularly as you are working. If space is limited, consider tabletop version. Drawing Board Drawing Board. Getty Images You'll need a rigid drawing board or panel to put behind the sheet of paper you're painting on. Pick one that's larger than you think you might need, as it's annoying to suddenly discover it's too small. Bulldog Clips Dorling Kindersley Getty Images Sturdy bulldog clips (or large binder clips) function well to keep a piece of paper on a board or for holding up a reference photo. Pencil for Initial Sketching Sketching Pencil. Getty Images If you like to sketch before you start painting, use a relatively hard pencil, such as a 2H, rather than a soft one, to lightly draw on your paper. A soft pencil risks being too dark and smudging when you start painting. Disposable Gloves Getty Images You'll need to decide whether you want to hold pastels in your fingers or wear gloves to avoid contact with the pigments. A few pigments are toxic, for instance, cadmium-based reds and yellows, but many are inert. Check the ingredients list to know for sure whether cadmium is actually in the pigment or just in the name of the color. An Apron Artist Apron. Getty Images Pastel will wash out of your clothes, but if you wear an apron, then you don't have to worry about it. Sanded Pastel Card Photo © 2010 Marion Boddy-Evans Sanded pastel card is a stiff kind of paper with a coating that gives a soft but gritty surface that really grabs and holds pastel. Think of very fine sandpaper stuck to a card. It's more expensive than pastel paper, but do try it at least once, as it holds far more layers of pastel more readily. Working with soft pastels on it gives a creamy, painterly feel.