Soft Pastels (Melvyn)

Tutor: Melvyn Scholtz

This course is suited to the student who has at some time in life done a drawing course or some other art course and would like to try pastels. It is a delightful art form which allows you to quickly produce a picture without waiting for paint to dry.

From late in the nineteenth century artists began to use pastels to capture scenes on location in much the same way that others used watercolour to capture scenes by using sketch and colour washes outdoors. Edgar Degas used pastels in this manner to capture the movements of the ballet dancers indoors. He used many of these drawings as primary sketches for oil paintings. Australian painters, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton also used pastels for portraiture and today pastels are still used for portraits in courts where cameras are not permitted.

By employing different techniques and/or different paper surfaces, an art work can look like a coloured drawing, a watercolour, or an oil painting. The special qualities that pastels have are that they can glow if the light is right. Being made up of countless small particles loosely pressed together the surface area is multiples under direct light, thus giving off a glow.

Pastels can be lightly drawn across a textured paper to leave a light impression whilst emphasising the textured pattern of the paper or they can use the texture in the paper to retain a heavier load of the pastel powder giving a thick layered look. For a smoother look, a cartridge white paper (which indicates suitability for charcoal and pastel) can be used. A light sideways stroke across the paper, then blending is applied with the finger or a cotton bud to obtain a watercolour effect. The colours are vibrant and mostly all pigment. Pastel pictures are delicate and vulnerable. They need care in application, travel and choice of framing.

The course will guide you through an exciting journey at your own pace with demonstrations on techniques particular to Pastels: How to use your pastels; the benefits of using coloured paper; and other broader topics applicable to all picture making e.g.: Composition, Perspective, Focus, Hard & Soft lines, Tones, Positive Shapes & Negative Shapes; Backgrounds; textures; Style etc. 

Materials list available.

Contact us


  • Level 1, Trinity Arcade
    72 St George's Tce, Perth WA 6000
  • Email: Reception@tsfs.org.au
    Phone: 08 9483 1333