The word “pastel” comes from the French word “pastiche” which means paste. Pastels are sticks of pigments made from pure color pigment and a binder. The powdered pigment is then mixed with a small amount of resin or gum, and then molded into stick form.
Because pastels have a minimal amount of binder, it is considered to be the purest form of pigment that can be used in a painting. These same pigments are used to make other paints such as oils, and watercolors. Pastel painting is as close as the artist can come to painting with pure color.
Da Vinci used dry pigment to color his drawings in the 15th century. However, Rosalba Carriera, a Venetian lady born in 1675 was the first to use pastel as a full-fledge medium.
When protected by fixative and glass, pastel is the most permanent of all media, for it never cracks, darkens or yellows.