View Full Version : Newbie pastellist

08-11-2013, 06:19 PM
Hi All,
I have been drawing in graphite and coloured pencil for around a year and also dabbled in acrylics, I am now just getting started in pastels as I feel this medium will suit me more.
My starter set is a 36 set of faber castell hard pastels and a 72 set os SAA soft pastels (previously Ashby?)

I also found some nice shallow boxes for storage but I might also leave them in thier original cardboard box

08-11-2013, 06:22 PM
This is my starter set


And the new shallow box I am unsure whethef to use with the original cardboard box I might leave them in


08-11-2013, 10:02 PM
Hi Nicola and welcome! I hope you get this reply, but don't feel bad if not too many folks post in this thread. There are technical problems on the site that are scrambling posts and sending them into other threads. Hopefully, things are fixed, but if not - welcome and be patient! Things should be running smoothly soon. :crossfingers: :crossfingers: :crossfingers:


08-12-2013, 04:05 AM
Thanks Don
Are the issues affecting logging in as well as I keep having terrible trouble logging in. Tells me my username and password are incorrect when they arent and doesnt recognise my email for the forgotton password option. Other times I come on and am already logged in (like now, couldnt log in a minute ago, just come back to try again and im already logged in)

08-13-2013, 07:29 AM
Login issues are common for gremlins on the site and glitches. Sorry about that, it happens. We like you and want to see you post again.

Thank you for sharing your photo of your new supplies! Faber Castell hard pastels are good ones and the SAA ones are interesting. I've never tried them and I've tried quite a few brands. They look like they'd be good though.

On the storage box, it's interesting the box they came in with its drawers organized by hue. I can see how that was well designed to organize them. Whether they'd fit in that 12 x 12" craft box, I'm not sure. If it were mine I would keep the foam from their original trays and put that into the craft box if I was using it, also put a layer of foam over them when in storage.

Some people like using pastels in a tray. Others don't. I bought a wooden pastels box from Dakota Pastels and was glad I did, because I moved shortly thereafter and had consolidated most of the smaller sets of different brands I bought into the wooden case.


Putting a couple of dividers into your crafts box might help organize it, also getting some foam to put under the pastels and on top. Notice that all my sticks are broken or were half sticks to begin with. They are easier to work with broken in half, because you can use a piece on its side for a wide stroke. It took me years to get used to that instead of keeping them all pristine and wrapped as they came from the manufacturer in their original set. Now I sometimes break them as soon as I buy them.

You've got a good color palette in that 72 color SAA set. Don't be surprised if you start wishing you had more though, or filling in around the edges with different brands when there are colors or values you don't have. Seems like your blues are almost all mid-values, no really light blues or dark ones. Having different values around the spectrum is an important thing in pastels, something that even if I'm putting together just a small palette for a painting or a plein air trip I would want to have. The very pale sky blues for near the horizon are essential in landscapes.

If you started out in graphite and colored pencils, get ready for a heady experience of instant gratification. Pastels go a lot faster! Some artists layer a lot, but not usually to the extent of full on colored pencils realism. Mixing colors and layering them is a bit different.

Blending pastels with your finger or a colour shaper or any blender will make them look dull, less lively, a little muted compared to the freshness of direct strokes with the stick. This can be useful in backgrounds or areas you don't want to emphasize so that the areas worked directly with the sticks pop out more.

There are loads of good tutorials, demos and discussions here on every aspect of pastels. Please post your paintings in the Studio/Gallery and comment on other paintings. I learn a lot sometimes by commenting on others and reading comments threads.

When I first came here I thought I was a good pastelist and had been selling portraits for money for years. I learned so much that what I was doing back then seems lousy, but it doesn't matter because it did serve the purpose and I wasn't charging that much. I got the likeness and did understand lighting a bit, but not color to the extent that I learned it here or composition or a thousand other cool things.

It's all cumulative. Sometimes going back over basics I already know will give me a deeper grasp of them and a better understanding too. So have fun and stick around. Despite site gremlins, this is a great place to hang out and get better at pastel painting!

08-13-2013, 05:38 PM
Thank you for the response, it was very informative.
The pastels didn't come arranged by hue, they were in those boxes but all jumbled across the different trays so I organised and labelled them by colour. There is a very pale, near white blue but not a really dark, I could do with a really dark green and purple as well (and so the pastel hoarding begins :D )

08-13-2013, 06:08 PM
Forgot to add I have 3 of the clear boxes to use. Trying to find some wavy foam for them to sit in like what they are already in. I have to say that looking at US online art stores I am very jealous of the pastel storage options you have, in the UK our ready to buy options are very limited.

Sarah Dowson
08-13-2013, 07:56 PM
Hi Nicola. Up until a year ago I only ever painted digitally (pet portraits), but I knew I had it in me to draw/paint traditionally. I went out and bought myself graphite pencil, then charcoal and now pastel. I love them. They are very addictive and I too am beginning to hoard them. I started with Derwent pastel pencils and Faber Castell pencils but soon decided to try soft pastels. So, along came the Rembrandts, Contes a few Unisons and the latest, a set of Sennelier darks. I am still still thinking about how to organise them all but at the moment they are all in their original boxes. I am thinking maybe a fishermans tackle box may be useful as it is in layers and each layer divided into compartments. Anyway, best of luck with your painting and happy pastel hoarding!