When viewing my paintings people often ask what the medium is: clearly not watercolors, but not oils either. Viewers are frequently surprised to learn I create the paintings with pastels.
Pastels are sticks of compressed pigment, the same pigment that is used in watercolor or oil paints. Pastels are made by mixing the powdered pigment with a small amount of binder and water. They are then formed into sticks, and allowed to dry. Many companies roll and shape the sticks by hand, making the pastel a work of an artist from the beginning! The resulting pastel is the used to "paint," but without the liquid or brush, just by direct application with the artist's hand.
Pastels' colors are often thought to be, well, pastel. The 20 or so manufacturers of artist grade pastels offer many hundreds of colors, ranging from bold and brilliant to soft and subtle. I have hundreds of colors myself, plenty of options for capturing beautiful red hair! The sticks are organized in special trays. Smaller boxes contain colors selected just for specific painting uses: a box each for summer, autumn, and winter landscapes, and a box for portraits. This is my portrait box. It's from these sticks that the red-head portraits will be created.