1. When I do the occassional graphite piece (used to do them all the time but I have no moved into soft pastels), I would use primarily Derwent pencils
2. For pastels, I adore working on velour paper, but Mi-Tientes is a close second.
3. There are many methods of using pastels, but I like to layer them with medium-soft pastels, and then use the edge of a hard pastel or a pastel pencil to lay in the fine details as the final layer.
4. With pastel, particularly on velour, the only way you can remove parts of the pigment is to vacuum it off! On Mi-Tientes, you have a little more room for error and can dab off small section with a putty eraser.
5. Packaging and posting pastel work is the bane of my artistic existance. I've been trialing different methods for years!
For the last 12 months, I think I have found my favourite method - it is safe, but also quite light so when posting work interstate and overseas, I can save my client postage costs significantly.
I cut two pieces of coreflute (plastic) to approximately 1 inch wider than the portrait. One of them so that the flutes run vertically, the other so the flutes run horizontally.
I use masking tape to secure the edges of the portrait onto a sheet of coreflute, then stretch greaseproof paper very tightly over the portrait - secure with tape to the back of the coreflute.
Depending on how far the portrait it travelling, I will add 1-3 layers of bubble wrap. Then sandwich with the second sheet of coreflute. Tape securely the whole way around so that the sheets do not move.
By having the flutes running in opposing directions, it is VERY difficult to bend the packaging, but it has enough flexibility that it won't snap in half - yes that has happened to me before when I trialed shipping with two sheets of light plywood!!!!
Then wrap the package up tightly in thick brown postage paper, secure with sticky tape, place in padded postage bag and cover with "***ARTWORK - DO NOT BEND**** labels!!!
It's time consuming and a bit fiddly, but I have yet to have a portrait arrived damaged or smudged, even travelling overseas.