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Pastel & Colour: Blending and stumping colors

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Pastels require stumping with your finger, a rag or a stump! Your work will be stronger, more sensitive, and gain in subtlety.


What you need to know

By mixing and stumping colors, you can:

  • Move wide masses of pigments with the palm of your hand,
  • Homogenize the break between two shades with your finger,
  • Use a rag to soften a hue that's too strong,
  • Blur surface pigments with a paintbrush without changing earlier layers,
  • Subtly work on a very small area with a stump.

1. Blending and stumping dry pastels by hand

A. Use the ends of your fingers to mix, stump and blend colors. They allow you to do very precise work in small areas.

B. You can make more sweeping circular motions with your thumb.

C. The edge of your hand on the little finger side is good for quickly blending large areas.

D. Use the edge of your hand on the thumb side for fan-shaped sweeps and to work on large horizontal areas.

E. Use the two pads of your palm near your wrist for circular stumping.


Keep in mind: the moisture and light oily layer on your hand help to naturally fix pastels to the paper.

2. Mixing oil pastels

There are three possible methods:

  • Once you have applied the colors to the paper, blend them by wiping a rag moistened with white spirit over that area. Then work on the blended, diluted colors with a paintbrush.
  • Blend the colors with your finger to blur the contours.
  • Use your fingernails to recreate clear separations.