Do you remember the very first time you tried pastel?
I had used conte in art school, but I hadn't used pastel until years later when I purchased my first set of hard sticks. I bought the coloured pad of Mi Tientes that everyone starts with and played with the chalky colour on textured paper. I remember the thrill of its tactile application - blending the colours with my finger. It only took a few strokes and I was hooked!
As my knowledge of pastels and their various painting surfaces expanded, I learned that blending with my finger or a stump wasn't necessary to create a successful pastel painting. Sanded paper holds multiple layers of pastel, and with this slow building of coloured layers comes a blending that accentuates the pastel's authentic hue.
Blending pastel with your finger or stump tends to dull the colour. It breaks down the little bits of pigment and doesn't allow light to pass through them. Layering builds the hues keeping them clean and vibrant.