PDA

View Full Version : Suggestion on selecting full set of pastel


KuriYokan
06-26-2012, 02:43 PM
Hi everyone.

So far, I've been using Rembrandts as my main workhorse pastels, but recently I've been using some of the softies and adapting to using them on the initial layers. I thought that with more extra practice I could probably just make do with 1 full set of pastel (seeing that I don't have a studio and can't keep too many anyway), something to use from start to finish. I'm starting to expend more of my current collection with larger textured surfaces, and I'm looking at replacing with other brands soon, not to mention I'm starting school soon (managed to get into my dream university) and I'm allowed to use pastels for my assignments unless a medium is specified XD

I have seen the following thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=914342&highlight=favourite+pastel)

I'm looking at brands like Unisons, Schmincke, or maybe Great American as well. I'm using number of colours per dollar as a comparison right now though.

Unison:
Jackson Art Supplies:0.433 sticks/dollar (396 sticks : ~715usd)
Blicks Art Supplies: 0.286 sticks/dollar (402 sticks : ~ 1099usd)

Schmincke:
Jackson Art Supplies: 0.261 sticks/dollar (400 sticks : ~1197 usd)
Blicks Art Supplies: 0.211 sticks/dollar (400 sticks : ~1478usd)

Great American:
Blicks Art Supplies: 0.360 sticks/dollar (468: ~1016usd)

[Prices of Jackson Art were converted from British Pounds to SGD for my own comparison, then to USD so that its easier for you guys to compare]
For some reason Jackson has ridiculously low prices, but their shipping can be expensive. When I ordered Manet pastels which I believe is the equivalent of Richeson Handmade pastels, the shipping amounted to a hefty 160 British Pounds~250USD. (Probably due to the heavy wood box)

Schmincke would be a lifesaver, as I can get them in open stock locally (it's the ONLY ultra softies I can get in Singapore - irritating... :mad:) but they're pretty expensive. (The wooden box is alluring, but I'm worried about shipping costs)

Unisons seem to have this sparkle to it. I don't know how to describe it, but they seem to appear brighter than Schmincke. Is it because single pigments are used rather than having black/white gradations?

Great American looks like the cheapest set right now in terms of #colours/$ with Blick prices.

I need the essential colours for landscapes, as well as a decent selection of high intensity colours for impact. I have actually considered getting just a full set of Rembrandts which I really like, and using it all the way with some Schmincke for highlights, but there are quite a few colours in my set of 90 landscapes that I haven't had the chance to try. Art Spectrum seems a bit more pricy compared to Rembrandts. One of the dark blues (Rembrandt - prussian shade I believe) was ridiculously hard, it scratched and cut the PastelMat I was working in. Even CretaColour never behaved that way. I notice that Mt Visions is a popular recommendation, and I own both the Dark sets, very pleased with them. But the lack of greens worry me.

While I do understand the common point on having unused colours in a full set, I prefer to at least have the colours there so I don't have to make a trip/online purchase everytime I find a colour missing and stop drawing.

I'm leaning towards Unison from Jackson Art due to their incredible low price.

Jason1616
06-26-2012, 04:58 PM
Great Americans are nice! They are similar in softness to Schmincke, and have a great color range. The square shape makes them do well with line work.

Don't go too much by the photographs for color...I have found Unison pastels to be somewhat muted in general. They are VERY nice pastels, but the colors don't have the high chroma saturation that Schmincke and Great American do.

If you are seriously considering ordering from the USA, you may want to consider Mount Vision pastels. They are one of my absolute favorites! I believe the full set is available from Amazon as well. They have really bright colors, and the consistency is nearly perfect. I have never had a hard or scratchy Mount Vision. I can't say enough good about them. They aren't as soft as Schmincke/Great American, but somehow the texture is just right. Their full set runs around $695 US which is much less than most. But the quality is equal to the others. They are large too...around the same size as the Richeson/Manet pastels you mentioned, so you get a good value for the price

If you go with Mt Vision, make sure you are getting the full set of 350. Blick still lists the set as being 330 which is outdated, so if you use Blick contact them first to make sure you are getting the most current set.

That said, you can't go wrong with Great Americans either!

I myself purchased a full set of Schminckes at the beginning of April and I must say I do love them!

Other American brands you may want to consider trying are Diane Townsend and Terry Ludwig. It's always good to test some sticks before buying a full set.

Hope this helps and good luck with your full set! When you get it we will want to see pictures! :D

allydoodle
06-26-2012, 06:50 PM
Wow, this is such a personal decision. All of the brands you've mentioned are excellent, so it really is a matter of personal preference. I would buy a sampler from Dakota (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/softpastels-dakota-samplers.aspx)and see if you can decide what brand you like the "feel" of best. It really does come down to that, because even if a brand has colors you like, if you don't like the way they work or "feel" to you, then you won't use them. I recall one artist mentioning that they love the colors of Great American, but dislike the way they feel. I happen to like Great American, but everybody has different preferences. This is why it is a good idea to try a sampler to help you decide.

I have all the brands you've mentioned, and I don't find Unisons to be brighter than Schmincke. Mind you I don't have the full set of Schmincke, but what I have are pretty intense colors. I do have quite a bit of Unison and I do like them, but they're not my brightest colors.

If you are going to stick with just one brand, I would add Mount Vision to the list of possibilities. They are a great value as well as excellent quality, and the colors are pretty bright. You can break these sticks into thirds and still have pretty large pieces to paint with.

Another thing to consider is the fact that each pastel brand performs differently. I would find it difficult to limit myself to just one brand, though I do understand your desire to do so.

Dakota sells a pastel box, the Deluxe Traveler (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/boxes-dakota.aspx), that accomodates every brand that you might be interested in. You could then keep all your pastels in one place for easy use, yet have the luxury of different pastels for different effects and uses. Just another idea for you to consider.

LucyJane
06-26-2012, 09:20 PM
I'm very interested in this thread also. I have a couple of sampler sets on their way from Dakota. I also wanted as big a range of color as I could get and went with the Mungyo set of 200 as it was only $175 and has gotten surprisingly decent reviews.

It seems a whole different medium than what I remember of 30 yrs ago. I'll be excited to use the samples and interested to see the responses here.

KuriYokan
06-26-2012, 10:05 PM
Thanks for the suggestions!

If you are seriously considering ordering from the USA, you may want to consider Mount Vision pastels. They are one of my absolute favorites! I believe the full set is available from Amazon as well. They have really bright colors, and the consistency is nearly perfect. I have never had a hard or scratchy Mount Vision. I can't say enough good about them. They aren't as soft as Schmincke/Great American, but somehow the texture is just right. Their full set runs around $695 US which is much less than most. But the quality is equal to the others. They are large too...around the same size as the Richeson/Manet pastels you mentioned, so you get a good value for the price
I agree with how Mt Visions feel just right. For some reason, they are good to start off with, and I can still add a touch or two even when I've built up considerable amount of layers. I guess if I do get the MVs set, I can't really go wrong with Unison or Schmincke to boost the greens right?

I have samples of most of the brands, including some open stock that I bought to try out. While I do love Terry's pigment load, it seems to be much more expensive than other brands like Unison or Schmincke, so I'm avoiding Terry's for now. Diane Townsend is also another one which seems more expensive, going by size of sticks and the price.

I've tried out 2 sticks of GAs, Scarlet 640.0 and Goldenrod 580.0. My 1st impressions were, they are pretty soft, but the Goldenrod was a lot firmer and didn't release pigment like the Scarlet did. On the other hand, the edges of the Scarlet released a lot of crumbs, along with a good smooth creamy feel, but didn't seem to flow as well as Terry's or Schmincke. If I'm to assume that GA sticks have these personalities, I probably might not like it much.

The Unison sampler I got from Blicks was the A30, a dark blue, something like prussian blue. The outside was really hard and scratchy, but once I got past the scratchy layer, it worked like a charm. I think it would be safe to say that Unisons are pretty close in terms of softness compared to TLs?

I'm currently using Mike Mahon's Pastel Porter (http://www.mikemahonspastelporter.com/product_descriptions.html), which I mentioned a while back in a thread. I'm using the Jumbo size as my "mobile studio" since I don't have one. Its actually pretty small, 37 x 37 x 7.5cm. It can hold up to 540 half sticks. Almost any size of pastels go in, but MVs are a little trickier to stuff in since they're huge.

DAK723
06-26-2012, 10:19 PM
I would buy a sampler from Dakota (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/softpastels-dakota-samplers.aspx)and see if you can decide what brand you like the "feel" of best. It really does come down to that, because even if a brand has colors you like, if you don't like the way they work or "feel" to you, then you won't use them. I recall one artist mentioning that they love the colors of Great American, but dislike the way they feel. I happen to like Great American, but everybody has different preferences. This is why it is a good idea to try a sampler to help you decide.
I couldn't agree more. You certainly don't want to waste hundreds - if not more than a thousand dollars on a set that you might not like.

And, really, while having a full set seems like a wonderful thing to have, I would caution against it. Every set I have ever seen has many colors you will never use. And every set that people seem to talk about is deficient in some ways. The idea of getting one full set and then getting rid of what you have now is not a good one, in my opinion. Most sets do have have enough grays or darks. I see you already have a dark set - that's good! You will want to keep it!

While there are some folks who work with only really soft pastels (like Schminke, for example) I think the vast majority of pastel artists use at least some medium and soft pastels in each painting. Many start with medium (or even harder) pastels to start and then go softer for the finishing touches. I know there are times when I need to use a hard pastel to harden an edge or put in a final detail. There are other times when a super softy is the only thing that will layer on top of my already existing layers. In some cases, you may not need many of the hard or the super softies. I realize that you said that you have only Schminke in open stock where you live. Obviously, this does not give you much choice! But, to me, that means that you can hand pick the 10 or 20 or 100 super softies that you will need!

I realize that my answer is probably of no help whatsoever. Sorry, but I hate to see you waste an enormous amount of money on something you aren't satisfied with. I would get the sampler packs as my first step. Then, if you find a couple brands you really like, you can get a small set or a dozen pastels from open stock and see if you still have the same opinion.

Good luck!

Don

P.S. I see you have mentioned a lack of greens in the Mount Vision set. I think you will find them more than sufficient. In fact, almost all the greens I use in my landscapes are MVs.

KuriYokan
06-27-2012, 06:58 AM
I understand where you're coming from DAK723.

Of all the pastel lines that I don't really have a set of, I've samples/few sticks of most of them except for Daler Rowney, Girault, Winsor & Newton, Holbein, NuPastel and Faber Castell.

Of the lines being sold at most sites like Blicks or Dakota, I currently like Rembrandts, MVs, Schmincke, Unison and BlockX.

BlockX are kinda pricy, so its out. Rembrandts can have some slightly harder/scratchy sticks. The 2 Dark MV sets I own have been very smooth and consistent, so I have thought of buying more of them before. As for Schmincke that I've bought in open stock locally, they cost about 4.30USD per stick which is quite expensive. That's almost an extra dollar just for the "shipping" of each stick. As for the Unisons, I have the 18 Light set, which is quite handy for highlights.

If I purchase MVs in the smaller sets of 25/50 colours, will I get repeated colours? So far I've been re-stocking my Rembrandts locally, but I'm getting quite irritated by the fact that the store barely brings in new stock. Basic portrait colours and some essential blues and greens have been out of stock since 3-4 months ago, even after I've repeatedly asked for them to restock it. That's why I'm turning to online purchases, and since I'm at it, might as well get a brand that I can't buy locally.

I've attached a photo of my current pastel box. Pardon the messy arrangement... I have trouble sorting them according to values. Photo might be slightly yellowed as I'm using a mobile phone camera.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Jun-2012/1047872-DSC_0118.JPG

There're some out of place sticks. Those are either smaller pieces left when I split the slightly longer half-sticks or I forgot to put them in at 1st and I'm too lazy to rearrange my collection again. Maybe you guys can point out generally what colours I might be lacking so I can just get them in open stock 1st? Most of the sticks you see are Manet pastels. I don't know if they're exactly the same as Richesons. They look and feel very similar though. A lot of the Manets shattered on one end when I broke them into half sticks. I ended up having to grind them down and roll them back into shape again, but I lose a considerable amount of pastel each time I do that. Breaking Manets are like trying to break croissants. It will shatter before it breaks. Schmincke while being ultra soft has never shattered before. Not to mention that 1 single Schmincke stick completely outweighed at least 4 Manet sticks.

Another major reason why I've been thinking of getting a full set is because Manet sticks becomes a disaster if I try to finger blend the colours. They turn grey and muddy very quickly. Haven't had that problem with Rembrandts or Schmincke.

EDIT: One of my friends have been asking me to draw portraits, but I don't know if I actually have the colours. I have never done a portrait in pastel before.

KuriYokan
06-27-2012, 10:14 AM
Then again, since I'm still a beginner, I guess a cheaper alternative would be to purchase the Blicks Artist Soft pastel set right? The 180 round ones. The cadmium red sample I got seem pretty good, although it was a little crumbly with the initial edges. I've seen the detailed review with a comparison against a TL. Maybe I should only invest in a better set as I learn more about pastels?

dobber
06-27-2012, 11:02 AM
I am a fan of the Great American brand but not when it comes to greens. Most of the greens that I use are Mount Vision, Terry Ludwig and Giraults. It could be the set of Great Americans that I have just have unusual greens. I do use them from time to time but I find the green colors don't quite mix as well with greens from the other brands. I prefer to order small sets of a particular color range such as Terry Ludwig darks and supplement with other small sets and single stick purchases. I am lucky to have Mount Vision made in my hometown so I can can purchase directly from Karl and see all the colors available.

DAK723
06-27-2012, 03:38 PM
Well, when I look at your current "set" of pastels my initial reaction is that you already have more pastels than I do - and it looks like you have a good selection of all the colors. The only thing that you might need is some more colored "grays". Mount Vision has a very nice set of thunderstorm grays. I find myself using at least some of them in every painting. I believe Ludwig and Girault (and probably other brands, too) have specific gray sets.

The smaller sets (like Blick, which I believe is just a repackaging of Daler-Rowney's soft pastels) usually have your basic color groupings - with tints and shades of a basic color. It looks like you already have all the basic colors with lighter and darker versions. So, I would look at the more special small sets - like grays and maybe a set of Ludwig darks which are very popular.

Of course, this is just my opinion. Many people do have full sets and a lot more pastels than I have. But it just looks like you already have a "full set" - even if they are different brands.

Don

KuriYokan
06-27-2012, 09:39 PM
Well, when I look at your current "set" of pastels my initial reaction is that you already have more pastels than I do - and it looks like you have a good selection of all the colors. The only thing that you might need is some more colored "grays". Mount Vision has a very nice set of thunderstorm grays. I find myself using at least some of them in every painting. I believe Ludwig and Girault (and probably other brands, too) have specific gray sets.

The smaller sets (like Blick, which I believe is just a repackaging of Daler-Rowney's soft pastels) usually have your basic color groupings - with tints and shades of a basic color. It looks like you already have all the basic colors with lighter and darker versions. So, I would look at the more special small sets - like grays and maybe a set of Ludwig darks which are very popular.

Of course, this is just my opinion. Many people do have full sets and a lot more pastels than I have. But it just looks like you already have a "full set" - even if they are different brands.

Don
Thanks for your input. I think I'll try to get one or 2 of the sets you've mentioned. I've been eyeing the MVs Thunderstorm grays, and a couple of Ludwig sets for a while... But I just couldn't make a decision.

Between the MV Thunderstorm Gray and Ludwig Maggie Price Gray set, which one do you think I should go for?

Jason1616
06-27-2012, 10:02 PM
Thanks for your input. I think I'll try to get one or 2 of the sets you've mentioned. I've been eyeing the MVs Thunderstorm grays, and a couple of Ludwig sets for a while... But I just couldn't make a decision.
The Mount Vision Thunderstrom Gray set is awesome. Can't go wrong there.

I also very much like the Blick Artist's pastels 180 set. They aren't as soft as some of the other brands you're looking at but they are softer than Rembrandts and have a nice texture. They would make a good "workhorse pastel", as Robert Sloan says.

If you are looking for good green sets, Mount Vision, Terry Ludwig and Unison make nice ones. I actually have three Unison Green Sets, The Terry Ludwig warm greens and the Mount Vision greens...they all cover a nice range of hues and values.

If you need good darks I would recommend multiple open stock sticks of the following colors: Terry Ludwig's V100, Sennelier #177, Mount Vision #693 and Mount Vision #514.

tintero
06-27-2012, 10:10 PM
I have the whole set of senneliers and almost whole collection of unison... they are great but now with a little more experience I found myself doing most of my painting with semi-hard prismacolor nupastels they are good for underdrawing and first layers and also great for details.... well I guess my paintings are 70% nupastel and 30% unison, sennelier or rembrandt.
If you are willing to spend around the thousand, buy unison, they are so soft but somewhat they are firm enough to do detail and yes... colors are really bright and beautiful. tough decision though.

Lynndidj
06-28-2012, 01:17 AM
Go for the mount vision thunderstorm grays. They are awesome.

Lynn

SSB
06-28-2012, 10:32 AM
Buying a full set seems to cost about the same as buying about 60-80% of the set in open stock. So, if I thought i was going to use less then that amount I would not buy a full set.