How to Create a Highly Textured Pastel Painting using Acrylic Paint

Published on Sep. 9th 2013

If you enjoy painting with pastels in a loose style, but you want just a little more texture in your finished pieces, you might want to try adding an acrylic underpainting your next soft pastel painting!

Acrylic paint dries quickly and binds easily to other mediums when used in mixed media pieces, which makes it ideal for this type of technique.

Besides acrylic paints, for this project you’ll also need durable paper (I use Canson Canva-Paper, but any high quality watercolor or mixed media paper will work), a palette knife, painting board, painter’s tape, soft/chalk pastels (the less expensive the better), and fixative.

Step 1. Sketch out your composition

Tape down your paper and cover it with acrylic paint, using a color that will set the mood of your piece. Once the acrylic has dried completely, sketch out your basic composition with pastels.


Step 2. Create a layer of textured acrylic paint

Using your palette knife, create a basic acrylic painting to show your values and composition. Take as much care with your knife strokes as you would in a regular palette knife painting—the paint strokes will add texture once the pastel is applied.


In this stage, use plenty of darks, since the lighter pastels will look stronger over dark undertones. Set your painting aside with ample time to dry (remember, thicker paint will mean longer drying time).

Step 3. Layer chalk pastels over the acrylic paint

After your acrylic layer has dried, begin to work in the chalk pastels to define objects and create a color scheme.


Use your darkest colors first, and spray with a layer of fixative (if you’re comfortable using it). Set painting aside and allow the fixative to dry before moving on to step 4.

Step 4. Add final touches of light and texture

For your final layer, add the lightest lights and brightest spots of color to your painting using pastels. As you do, make sure to scrape your pastels over the heavier, textured strokes of acrylic, making those textures “pop” from the canvas.

Your pastel dust will naturally bind to the acrylic, so a final layer of fixative is not necessary (unless you want to darken the final colors one more time).


When you’re done, sign your mixed media painting, frame it under glass, and enjoy!

Did you like this article? Share it!
Then check out the related posts below.
Chalk pastels (also called "soft" or "dry" pastels) are known for their brilliant colors, but sometimes all that color can turn into a muddy mess after a few layers. The good news is, adding just a little water before you apply pastels to your surface will allow you bring out those brilliant l. . . read more
If you’ve ever worked with both oil pastels and soft pastels, maybe you’ve been curious about blending the two mediums together in a single artwork. Of course, soft pastel is a water mixable medium, while oil pastel is, well, oil! But with a little care (and courage) you can use oil pastel as . . . read more
Soft pastels are easy to blend, mix, and apply, and are a great dry medium when you need to work quickly or paint outdoors. They require no brushes, water, or blending mediums, and their brilliant colors create beautiful, bright works of art. Unfortunately, pastels can also be quite messy to u. . . read more
One of the joys of using the soft pastel medium is its versatility. I particularly like painting with my pastels on dark surfaces, rather than on traditional white surfaces, because of how well the colors stand out. Though it may be a bit more challenging at first, using black pastel paper as . . . read more
Using soft pastel as a medium gives you the opportunity to choose from a variety of surfaces. But, since pastels can be used alone, blended with water, or added to mixed media pieces, it's important to consider both your "wet" and "dry" options. The following is a quick guide for choosing a su. . . read more
Stay current.
Subscribe to EmptyEasel's free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!
Art Contests
More art contests. . .
EE Writers
Cassie Rief Niki Hilsabeck Brandi Bowman Michelle Morris Lisa Orgler Adriana Guidi Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal

If you'd like to write for EmptyEasel, let us know!

We love publishing reader-submitted art tutorials, stories, and even reviews.Submit yours here!