As a preamble... a little bit of history:
The earliest evidence of Pastel could go back to the prehistoric times. In fact, 20,000 years ago, pure color pigments were crushed and diluted in water to be used to represent the cave paintings.
Closer to our time, it's Leonardo da Vinci helped to popularize the art of pastel especially to enhance the color and light of his works. Testimonies of this period tend to verify that it was a French invention.
From the seventeenth century, great artists such as Joseph Vivien, or Charles Antoine Copeyl appear. But it was in the eighteenth century that the art of pastel knows his apotheosis, kings, princes and the upper bourgeoisie want their portrait in pastel.
Paris has more than 200 world-renowned artists.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries show, dedicating the Pastel as a major art with artists such as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Chenet. Some of them created in 1885 Pastel Society of France, still in force today.
... and technique:
Many techniques are used in the execution of works in pastel and illustrate the talents of each artist.
One advantage of Pastel is related to the ability to mix colors to infinity, which leads to a particularly striking given. Combined with the natural glow pigments, the light that flows clear and white colors, gives the work a striking contrast.
The procedure generally adopted by the pastels is to develop a charcoal sketch or pale color, in order to "get" the main theme of the subject. Then later in Pastel and actual work, succeeds to the preparation.
For my part I use a different technique, which could be summarized as a combination of the two. Once the main theme chosen, I spend long moments pondering the division of each party to define what will be the first and subsequent drawing area to draw. The very start of the subject will be different, depending if it is a face, a landscape, a still life.
For a face, for example, it seems very important to my point of view, to start with the eyes and face, then accessories and scenery, and finally the background. My technique in this case is to represent the eyes, in order to "catch" the sight of the viewer, then the rest of the subject, part by part (Kyoto Gion Bayashi).
For landscape, I generally proceed by different layers (port of Honfleur). The sky, and bit by bit, approaching the field of view, the port buildings, boats, the stretch of water and the paved area. The explanations are detailed in the "step by step" section.