Pastel for Beginners

Start as a total newbie and finish as enthusiastic beginner

A short Online course

Love Pastel but no idea where to start?
This course is for you

You might love the look and feel of pastels but you don’t know how to work with them. You might have tried a bit but it looked horrible. Sound familiar?

To blend or not to blend?

Why is it so blotchy?

Which paper do I need?

How can I paint something simple, but do it well?

I need someone to give me a helping hand. Answer my questions

What I need is.....

Course Outline

- Introduction

- Underpainting

- Build up Colour

- Building Form

- Final Push

Pastel for Beginners Online Course

Sophie’s Art School offers this short online course for complete pastel newbies. In this course I will show you some of the different types of pastel available and the marks you can make with them. I’ll give you some pointers on how to work and what papers to use. After this first lesson, I will demonstrate a simple painting of an apple. During the process of painting the apple, I will be using the marks we discussed and the pastel types shown. This way you can see how to use your pastel and you can try it yourself too.

In this course I will show you mainly a hatching technique (with some other techniques on the side). It is a beginner-friendly approach to pastel, which I hope you’ll try yourself.

And of course there is a private forum where you can share pastel marks with your fellow students.

What’s in the course

5 Lessons will teach you the basics you need. Each lesson consists of a video lesson (around 12 mins each) and some text material. You will get the most out of this course when you paint along with me! This course should take you around 4 hours to complete.



The first lesson will introduce you to pastel, its main concepts and pitfalls. We discuss paper, pastel types and mark making.



How to make sure your subject fits on your paper and create a basic block-in.


Build up Colour

Layer your pastel strokes to build up colour, depth and value changes.


Building Form

Make your subject matter a bit more 3-D by working on value and colour.


Final Push

Push those colours, values, edges and detail for a great finish.


Private Community

Post your work, ask your questions, see other students’ work and just hang out in our very own private community, The Art Cafe. 

Sophie's Art School

Join Sophie’s Art School and get started straight away

Here’s What You’ll Get When You Join Sophie’s Art School

The pastel for beginners course is part of Sophie’s Art School. When you become a member of the school you will get access to ALL courses, workshops and tutorials inside the art school. 

Grow Your Art


Sophie's Art School


Workshops & Courses

Online video courses and regular online 5-day workshops teaching the fundamentals of painting and drawing. Take a course  in your own time and pace (see the course library here) or join our regular 5-day video-based workshops (more info here). 

Inspirational Articles, Interview, Tutorials and Check Lists

A large resource library, with over 50 articles, tutorials and guest material. The library is filled with useful, inspirational, educational and practical articles, tips, guest content, interviews and lists. 

Active, Supportive Community

The Art Cafe is our very own virtual art community with public and private 'tables' for all sorts of art. More info here.

About The Course Teacher,
Sophie Ploeg

Sophie Ploeg is an experienced art tutor and a professional artist. Her portrait paintings have been exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Pastel Society and the BP Portrait Award Exhibition.  She is self-taught and shares her practical approach to painting and drawing through courses and workshops.

Sophie’s painting techniques stem from trial and error, picking and choosing; over the years she developed her own techniques, often fed through selected bits and pieces from existing methods and approaches. She does not follow any particular school of thought but prefers to use painting techniques that are fun and ‘work’. 

Sophie’s paintings are realistic and full of atmosphere. They seem to echo traditional methods and style, but are painted in a modern and practical manner. Her work celebrates the beauty of every person and the heritage we all share.

Here’s what people are saying about Sophie’s teaching

I am able to grow as an artist

I love how Sophie teaches. I am able to grow as an artist from her workshops even though I am in a different country. I love the supportive feedback from her and from my classmates. I have grown as an artist. Sophie breaks the subject down into easy steps in the videos

I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on this

She is so helpful! If there is anything you don't understand, she keeps explaining and giving examples until you do. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on this!


What you've created is awesome! You are a very good teacher and always give helpful, constructive feedback. Thanks Sophie :)

Take the first step into the world of pastel..... 

And find out why pastel is fantastic as a medium, so addictive for the artists and so much fun! Take that first step and dip your toe into the world of pastel. 

After the beginners’ course you are welcome to proceed to The Pastel Place; a deep dive into pastel where we explore pastels, types, papers, mark making even further. Assignments and a guide book will take you on a proper pastel journey, taking you from painting fundamentals to grand old pastel masters.  

If this sounds good, then why not join the Art School and start with the Beginners course.


Improve Your Painting Skills and Find a Supportive Community of Arty Folk 

Join Sophie’s Art School

and enjoy a variety of online courses, montly workshops and more

£25 per month

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I have to start at a certain date?

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Dip Your Toe in Some Magic Dust...

Some colourful, beautiful pastel dust. Learn what magic you can create with this wonderful medium. I have been in love with pastel for 30-odd years and I can’t wait to share the magic with you.

Sophie Ploeg