is a very soft kind of chalk,
used for drawing.
Originally pastels gained a bad reputation as artists used them to make poor imitations of oil paintings especially in the 18th century (hence the confusion surrounding some people’s insistence on referring to pastel pictures as ‘paintings’. This should really only be applied to those pastels that try to imitate paintings, and then with reservation).
Since the time of Degas pastels have become an acceptable artists medium with the best works of Degas showing the true potential of these humble soft chalks. In the work of Degas the pastel exploits the drawing nature of the medium, building color with short lines of color laid next to each other with a minimum of blending. This retains a fresh look to the pastel that reveals its true beauty.