Having said that.......the most expensive pastels in the world - Roche pastels, made in Paris, used extensively by Degas and many of his contemporaries, are relatively hard, particularly when compared to many of the other top manufacturer's pastels.
|"Woman at her toilette" Edgar Degas|
In my early years of working with pastels, I worked almost exclusively with the softest pastels I could find, from beginning to end of a painting. I have a fairly light touch - but even so, I was limited to only a layer or two - perhaps three - before the tooth of the paper began to fill . In recent years I have started to use hard pastels in the early stages of a painting, liking the fact that working with the hard pastels, which release less chalky pigment onto the surface, means that I can create initial passages of colour which will then work really well underneath subsequent layers of softer pastels.
However, one of the reasons I rather avoided them originally was because of their harsh, unsubtle colours - most hard pastels on the market were garish in the extreme. Not surprising perhaps when the largest range of hard pastels was - and still is - in the region of about 70 colours, whereas some of the soft pastel manufacturers offered as many as 500 different colours and tones.
I recently purchased a box of 72 CRETACOLOUR CARRE pastels, because of the really lovely subtle colours in the set. In particular, the range of greys, which offers me a superb group of warm and cool neutrals. Take a look:
|On the left, we have a hard edge between the two patches of soft pastel colour. On the right, I used a hard light grey pastel to "soften" the edge visually. This works rather differently to smudging the edge with a finger.|