Pastel is fundamental for Degas: he used the medium almost exclusively from 1888-90, as the outcome of his continued investigations into drawing and colour. Pastel also enabled him to go back over his compositions more easily than paint. Degas used the technique in the traditional way before applying it in a radically different way: he used pastel dry or mixed with water, crushed or worked with steam, rubbed, and with multiple types of lines.
One of his main contributions to the pastel revival lay in mixed media. Degas was often known to combine pastel and tempera, or oil paint. From the middle of the 1870s, he used pastel to enhance his monotypes, which he described as “drawings done with a greasy ink [on a metal plate] and printed”. He also used highly varied supports such as coloured or prepared papers, but also tracing paper, to be able to quickly transfer motifs that were dear to him.