I sometimes get asked why we call it pastel “painting” if in fact, the pastels are a dry medium similar to chalk. A lot of clients and family and friends think pastels are actually chalk and using them is akin to sidewalk art. Here’s a great explanation of the drawing vs. painting question….
“Using the linear approach with pastel and allowing a lot of the paper color to dominate the work is typical of drawing. Handling pastels like oils, such as modifying masses of layered color to produce a surface quality of thick and thin shapes, is painting…..Keep in mind that painting versus drawing is an approach to constructing the work of art, not the result of whether the medium is wet or dry.” (from The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm)
This makes perfect sense to me. When I paint in pastels, I’m using the exact same method to achieve my finished works as if I were using wet mediums. The only difference is I have no “dry time” and it’s more difficult to erase or cover a mistake with pastels…they can’t just be painted over!