6 Artists You Should Know Who Draw With Colorful Oil and Chalk Pastels

Contemporary Pastel Artists

Stock Photos from TOXIC CAT/Shutterstock

From the chalky sketches of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo during the Renaissance to the expressive drawings of Edgar Degas in the 1800s, artists have been creating pastel art for centuries. The medium’s popularity continues to thrive, with more and more contemporary artists choosing soft and oil pastel sticks as their favorite drawing tools.


The Difference Between Soft and Oil Pastels

Often referred to as “dry painting,” pastels allow you to apply and blend colors the same way you would with paint. However, rather than being liquid, the pigment is neatly packaged into a crayon. There are two main types of pastels: soft and oil.

Soft pastels (also called chalk pastels) are made by combining white chalk, pigment, and gum for the binder. They give a dry matte finish with a soft, chalky hue.

Oil pastels are also made by combining pigment and a binder. However, they have properties similar to oil paint. Their waxy consistency means they don’t harden or dry out and can be used to achieve lasting, vibrant hues.

Want to see what artists can do with this versatile medium? Check out 6 contemporary pastel artists below. And if you're feeling inspired, here's our tutorial on how to draw with pastels.


Contemporary Pastel Artists You Should Know


Zaria Forman


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Zaria Forman (@zarialynn) on

Zaria Forman documents climate change with her impressive, photorealistic chalk pastel drawings of glaciers. She finds inspiration from her trips to remote areas—including Antarctica, Greenland, and Arctic Canada—where she accompanied NASA on several Operation IceBridge missions. The artist says, “My hope is that these drawings bring awareness, and invite viewers to share the urgency in a hopeful and meaningful way. Art can facilitate a deeper understanding of any crisis, helping us find meaning and optimism in shifting landscapes.”

Follow Zaria Forman: Website | Facebook | Instagram


Aaron Schuerr

Contemporary Pastel Artists

From the forests of Yellowstone National Park to the beaches of Laguna Beach, en plein air artist Aaron Schuerr captures the beauty of America’s most stunning landscapes in vibrant, chalky hues. Schuerr often photographs his pastel art while it’s still on the easel, revealing his simple setup and his tray of countless colorful chalks.

Follow Aaron Schuerr: Website | Facebook | Instagram


Debora Stewart


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Debora Stewart (@deboralstewart) on

A prominent figure in the contemporary pastel art world, Debora Stewart is a Signature Member and a Master Pastellist of the Pastel Society of America and a member of the Master's Circle of the International Association of Pastel Societies. She creates abstract drawings that beautifully capture the colors and energy of nature. “I am very passionate about the medium of soft pastel,” says the artist. “Pastel has allowed me to work quickly and intuitively which has helped me develop an abstract style.”

Follow Debora Stewart: Website | Facebook | Instagram


Irina Plaksina


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Художник Ирина Плаксина (@irina.pastel) on

Russian artist Irina Plaksina renders colorful countryside scenes in vibrant, oil pastel hues. Each cheerful composition showcases the artist’s talent in capturing natural light and shadow. If you can speak Russian, check out her Instagram page for her art tutorials. If not, simply enjoy scrolling through her colorful portfolio.

Follow Irina Plaksina: Instagram


Natalia Savostina


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by sav_nati PASTEL 🔹 INSPIRATION (@sav_nati) on

Natalia Savostina will make your mouth water with her realistic pastel drawings of food and drinks. Each colored chalk drawing is full of details and clever use of shadows, making viewers want to reach out and grab the tasty snack from the paper. You can find more of Savostina’s work on Instagram; and if you like her artistic style, check out her drawing demos on YouTube.

Follow Natalia Savostina: Website | Instagram | YouTube


Vera Kavura


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Vera Kavura (@verakavura) on

Kiev-based artist Vera Kavura uses soft and chalk pastels to create her dreamy depictions of bouquets. Each drawing captures the delicate beauty of flowers in impressive photorealistic detail.

Follow Vera Kavura: Website | Instagram | YouTube


Want to see more? Here's 8 world-famous artists from throughout history who had a penchant for pastel.


Related Articles:

Learn to Paint Without a Brush By Drawing With Pastel Sticks

8 World-Famous Artists Who Were Drawn to Working in Pastel

Pastel Artist Captures America’s Most Beautiful Landscapes en Plein Air

Artist Brings Awareness to Climate Change Through Pastel Drawings

Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content