Look at the two trees in this picture. The tree on the left has plenty of texture but no blending. The tree on the right has been heavily blended. What a difference! A picture that is all blended looks very flat. Keep your blending for backgrounds, soft edges and distance. The more texture you require the rougher the paper should be. I prefer Clairefontaine Pastelmat for detail and Canson Mi-Teintes ‘Touch,’ for more textural paintings.
Pastel is a wonderful medium, so forgiving and versatile. Yes, pastels are messy, but you only have to keep a damp cloth with you whilst working and wash your hands well at the end. I always paint with a damp cloth in an old plastic box on the table and a small towel over my shoulder so I can constantly clean my hands. If you are about to buy new pastels, I would recommend not getting ones that are extremely soft until you get used to them. A medium hard pastel is easier to handle. I nearly always use a mixture of Unison, Rembrandt and Faber Castell Polychromos.
For a book on starting pastels, go to my 'book' page
I really hope you have found this very brief introduction to pastels useful, enjoy your painting!
The materials I recommend are listed below