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View Full Version : Some Best Prices for Soft Pastels


jakertanner
07-29-2014, 01:58 PM
Hi All,

I was doing some research for myself, and thought I would share my findings in case anyone is looking to purchase.

So, I chose a few major brands. This is for an online order placed at Blick, reason being they have free shipping on orders of only $50 or more with code CDSP. Blick price matches with proof, so I compared about 5 different sites, and found the cheapest from each, so that you can let Blick know and get everything from one carrier. BTW, this is open stock only, I did not price sets.

Sennelier cheaper from: Blick or Artarama $3.23

Unison turquoise or SC cheaper from: Blick $5.25

Unison regular cheaper from: Fineartstore.com $3.89

Rembrandt soft cheaper from: Jerrysartistoutlet.com $2.45 (until end of month)

Mount Vision cheaper from: Fineartstore $2.89

Ludwig open stock only from direct sales.

Schmincke cheaper from: Fineartstore $3.93

Townsend Terrage cheaper from: Fineartstore $4.89


So basically, if you place an order with Blick (I do not work for them, just trying to help others), let them know about the other prices from these stores, and they will price match. So free shipping for orders of $50...best deal if you are looking to not spend a lot.

Hope this helps everyone.

Blayne
07-29-2014, 06:51 PM
How nice of you to do the work then share it with us!

Still-trying
07-29-2014, 07:14 PM
Very interesting Jake. I didn't know that Blick would match prices. But also consider taxes. A big order from fine arts store is no tax for me in New Jersey. I would pay tax from Blick. Lots of fun, eh? Thanks for doing this.

robertsloan2
07-29-2014, 08:37 PM
Thanks for the listing! Yeah, locality matters on tax. I pay a high CA tax on my Blick orders now, but would be paying them to Fineartstore too or at the Blick physical store here, it's just part of getting to live in San Francisco. Nice that Blick is doing price matching!

I use most of the online art places whichever has the best prices, watch for sales and all. The other cool thing about Blick is that they are really fast to fix any order they got wrong and if they sent the wrong item or color, they don't want it back even if it was a $10 board or something. They make good no matter what goes wrong.

getdusty
07-29-2014, 09:49 PM
Thanks, Jake. FineArtsStore was the best price on open stock Giraults, too.

jakertanner
07-29-2014, 09:54 PM
It was interesting for me to do the research as well, so figured it would be cool to share.

I know about the tax, but tax aside, depending what you get, it's cheaper. Figure if you order from Fineartstore.com, and it's a $55 order, you pay shipping...so unless shipping is cheaper than tax, it's worth it...depending of course, what you order...at least until Blick has this deal going.

I also like it, since I only need to place the order from ONE place, instead of multiple places to get the best prices..otherwise you're paying shipping from multiple places...

jakertanner
07-29-2014, 09:55 PM
If for nothing else, you can see who has the better pricing at the moment, regardless if you use Blick or not. I will be referring to this myself for future purchases.

Saskia
07-30-2014, 02:53 AM
Thanks for the list! It is good to keep up with the regular prices, but also, sales come around all the time. I buy all my art supplies online and never pay full price. I usually don't pay shipping. Blick and Jerry's both have coupon code events regularly, which last a few days to a week and have about two weeks in between. This week, for instance, they have 10 to 25 % off plus free shipping, depending on how much you spend. I find it is always worth it to me to time my purchase around a sale, unless I'm buying something already discounted that the coupon doesn't apply to. And in that case I wait for a free shipping event, which are even more frequent.

For those already discounted things, it seems like Jerry's is usually slightly more expensive, but then like Jay and Rob said, the lack of tax can compensate for that. I pay tax at Blick, but not at Jerry's. But then again, I like the customer service at Blick.

Fine Art Store has good deals on some things (I've seen some larger sets cheaper there, for example), but they usually can't compete with the two big ones when the twice-a-month sales come around.

jakertanner
07-30-2014, 08:13 AM
Thanks for the list! It is good to keep up with the regular prices, but also, sales come around all the time. I buy all my art supplies online and never pay full price. I usually don't pay shipping. Blick and Jerry's both have coupon code events regularly, which last a few days to a week and have about two weeks in between. This week, for instance, they have 10 to 25 % off plus free shipping, depending on how much you spend. I find it is always worth it to me to time my purchase around a sale, unless I'm buying something already discounted that the coupon doesn't apply to. And in that case I wait for a free shipping event, which are even more frequent.

For those already discounted things, it seems like Jerry's is usually slightly more expensive, but then like Jay and Rob said, the lack of tax can compensate for that. I pay tax at Blick, but not at Jerry's. But then again, I like the customer service at Blick.

Fine Art Store has good deals on some things (I've seen some larger sets cheaper there, for example), but they usually can't compete with the two big ones when the twice-a-month sales come around.


I saw the coupons, but at Blick and most places, it has a minimum order...for me, I can not spend too much at one time to ever take advantage of any sales, unfortunately. But the convenience of ordering from one place, knowing I will get the lowest price, for the amount of money I want to spend is a deal.

Also, I have been looking at sets, and honestly, I am not sure why people buy sets when getting the same product as open stock and creating your own set is far cheaper. This started because I emailed Blick asking why it was cheaper to buy as open stock, when most manufacturers price their sets cheaper..more you buy, the more you save, but not always.

Anyway, thanks for all the insight, because as with anything, I am always learning...thanks to all who have replied.

Saskia
07-30-2014, 01:03 PM
Also, I have been looking at sets, and honestly, I am not sure why people buy sets when getting the same product as open stock and creating your own set is far cheaper. This started because I emailed Blick asking why it was cheaper to buy as open stock, when most manufacturers price their sets cheaper..more you buy, the more you save, but not always.


You're right, sometimes it is cheaper to buy open stock, because art stores will discount the pastels from their list price and use that as the store price. However, this is not always the case. For instance, I just bought the Great American half stick set of 60 for $82.46 at Blick (using the 25 % off coupon), and a bunch of open stock Great Americans for $2.54 each (also with coupon). The 60 half sticks work out to $1.37 each, but when you consider that the GA half sticks are actually the size of a 3/4 stick, it works out to a better deal (because 2.54 * .75 = 1.90, so I paid $1.90 for 3/4 of each open stock stick).

I usually just do the math on the sets. Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they're not.

jakertanner
07-30-2014, 01:40 PM
You're right, sometimes it is cheaper to buy open stock, because art stores will discount the pastels from their list price and use that as the store price. However, this is not always the case. For instance, I just bought the Great American half stick set of 60 for $82.46 at Blick (using the 25 % off coupon), and a bunch of open stock Great Americans for $2.54 each (also with coupon). The 60 half sticks work out to $1.37 each, but when you consider that the GA half sticks are actually the size of a 3/4 stick, it works out to a better deal (because 2.54 * .75 = 1.90, so I paid $1.90 for 3/4 of each open stock stick).

I usually just do the math on the sets. Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they're not.

That's good to know..I guess it does depend on size too. How are GA in softness…can you giver me comparison with other brands? I have Rembrandt, Unison, Mungyo handmade, Richeson Handmade..any of those close? Thanks for your help.

I was thinking of going MV, as their price is good and size too, but I'd like your opinion. I haven't developed any techniques yet, still new, so anything is good.

robertsloan2
07-30-2014, 02:15 PM
I was the kid who always wanted to have all the colors, so that's half of why I lean toward getting the sets. Sticks are cheaper in the sets, but that's value only for those who actually use all the sticks. Overall I do, because I like changing up which brand I'm using for what effect and do use the convenience colors when I have them.

Your strategy is good too. It's possible to have everything you need in 50 or 60 sticks and if you just stick to spectrum hues that can drop to even less. I like having the multiple tints in the W&N set, but I do recognize that it's got a lot of convenience colors.

It's another way to the same thing - get the essential colors for a beginner, preferably in good brands and two or three textures.

The colors I think of as essential aren't always there in smaller sets or starter sets either. I've often bought larger than minimum sets because they had no purple or turquoise or pink. Some of the really essential colors don't make it into the lineup but they put in ones that to me are convenience colors. I at least want six spectrum colors and it's much better to have 12 spectrum colors. At least one tint of each, preferably too, and shades of at least six. i also like having six very light tints - which you can get from Art Spectrum as a six pack and that is more useful than pure white. Near white tints work a lot better than white and I only use pure white as an occasional accent.

But if there aren't many tints in a starter set, the white gets used up fast creating tints by shading and mixing. When often using a tint will give better results even for mixing.

It's funny, the more sticks I have, the fewer I use in a given painting. It was easier for me the more colors I had to choose from, but I can see that for some people having a lot of choices gets more confusing. I tend to recommend large half sticks sets because those do have all the essentials and the rest become useful over time. On their wearing down, if I have more choices I'll tend to wear down all of them slower.

jakertanner
07-30-2014, 03:42 PM
Hi Robert,

The main pastel brand that started all this was the Terrages. They are $5.09 open stock…so a set of 7 at Blick is $44.95, but I can create that set with open stock for a little over $35.00…So with regards to the Terrage line, they are much more expensive via the sets. Blick couldn't explain the pricing but agreed that it would be cheaper to create the sets with open stock…lol

Go figure.

I do like getting my own colors, even though, being so new, I do not know which ones I would need more, but I am picking by what I visually find pleasing..staying away from bright red, blue, green, and prefer to either blend my own on paper, or gravitate towards the earthier colors…Aside from yellow, and perhaps orange, I don't see myself going for the very bright primary colors. I may however, end up with a set just to get an extra storage box…I see the value when buying a wooden box though…

Would be great if they would offer a mix and match set for the same price. Half portrait and half landscape would probably be a nice combo for me…then add in some nice deep greys and done..lol

Again, thanks for your input.

Saskia
07-30-2014, 05:10 PM
That's good to know..I guess it does depend on size too. How are GA in softness…can you giver me comparison with other brands? I have Rembrandt, Unison, Mungyo handmade, Richeson Handmade..any of those close? Thanks for your help.

I was thinking of going MV, as their price is good and size too, but I'd like your opinion. I haven't developed any techniques yet, still new, so anything is good.
I know my way around the bargains at the art supply stores, but I come from a drawing and oils background and have only been seriously doing pastels for the past six to nine months (nine if you count the pans, and six if you don't). So I am still very much a beginner. But I tend to go overboard with the things I decide to do, and have a habit of buying up all the supplies I can and learning everything possible about them so that I can be sure I know what I'm doing and have the right tool for the job. I'm a bit of a materials junkie if you want the truth. :) At the moment, I have all the brands you mentioned except Richeson Handmade.

Great Americans are not like any of those other brands. They are unique. The closest they come to anything is to Schmincke, which are the softest pastels out there. If Schminckes are a one on the hardness scale, then GAs are about a two. Unisons would be a five according to this (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/index-softpastels.aspx) scale, which I mostly agree with. But while Schminckes are light and fluffy, GAs are more dense, and almost oily or waxy. The closest comparison I can give is that they feel almost exactly like drawing lightly with a powdery eyeliner pencil (if you can get your hands on one, try it!). I happen to love them, but not everyone does.

Even so, I use Great Americans differently than I use my other pastels. I particularly like them on printmaking papers like Somerset and Stonehenge, but don't care for them on sanded papers. I also find for me personally that their peculiar consistency does not always go well with other pastels, so if I'm using them, I use them mostly alone, or sometimes on top of Unison. I don't know why this is, but I don't much like GAs with other pastels, and they are the only pastel I feel this way about. If you do get them, you might be better off with a set, such as the half stick set I mentioned. It has a nice range of values, which is very important. Here is a good picture of it:

http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/setlists10/gashalf60.htm

Since you mentioned Mount Visions, they are in a completely other category. GAs are far on the soft side, and Mount Visions are maybe just a bit softer than Rembrandts, which are among the hardest of the soft pastels.

Many people will not agree with me, but Mount Visions are the only pastel I don't absolutely love. They are large and a great value in that regard, but I'm not sure I like the quality. I feel like they have too much clay or marble dust in them and it makes them just a little dull and muddy. Again, this is totally a personal observation, and I am sure there will be many arguments. Most people I have spoken to love Mount Vision. I just wish they had a little more pigment than they seem to have, and would rather they were not quite so big if it meant they could use a bit less clay in their formula. I have mostly earth tones of them at this point, however, so that may contribute to my opinion. I have been thinking about getting their chromatic set to give them another chance. If my opinion changes, I will issue a full apology. :)

My favorite workhorse pastels at the moment are Unison and Sennelier. In terms of hardness, the Dakota hardness chart puts Unison at a five and Sennelier at a four, but some of the Senneliers can actually be much harder, particularly the darks but even some of the lights as well.

P.S. If you email Blick about a brand or two you want to try, they will send you a sample. Jerry's does not give samples. Another reason I like to buy from Blick when I can. :)

Still-trying
07-30-2014, 05:43 PM
Funny how we are all so different. I too am only doing pastel for six months.

I only have a few Great American and probably won't get more.

I love Unison best of all. Great color, easy to control.

Am not at all happy with a 40 piece Sennelier set but I'll keep them around in case I need a color.

Love the few Giraults and I have my eye on more of them.

And I have many many terry Ludwig and I'm struggling with them. I constantly find them darker in hue than I think they will be. They are powerful.

I bought Unison 36 sets, landscape and portrait, from Utrecht right before last Christmas for $47 each, after discount with free shipping. They are usually like 129$ I think. Haven't checked lately. You have to keep an eye out if you're in the market.

Saskia
07-30-2014, 08:18 PM
Ha ha, that's funny, Jay, I got the same deal on those two sets not long after that from Jackson's shipped from the UK. Can't beat 72 Unisons for under $100. I've had my eye on two of their 72 piece sets, and I'm sure I'll pay much more for those. One thing I really love about Unison is that they seem to try to ovoid overlap in their sets, so you can get the 18 piece landscape, the 36 piece landscape and the 72 piece landscape and not have very many duplicates.

I love Girault and Ludwigs as well. I have a few sets of Girault that I use for blending, my favorites being the gray set of 50 and the canyon set. I love Terry Ludwig's colors, especially the darks. The pastels can seem a little powdery at times, but it isn't too bad. I haven't noticed anything strange about the values, though.

Out of curiosity, what was it about the Senneliers you didn't like? I find it interesting to hear other artists perspectives when they have definite views about a product.

jakertanner
07-31-2014, 12:41 AM
Wow, jealous of the prices you guys got for the Unisons. I would imagine that around this time and the holidays, there are pretty good deals around.

I am dying to try GA, MV and Ludwigs, almost forgot Terrages. Then I think I have tried all the brands I care to try and make a decision as to which ones I will be using most. I hear that the Rembrandt Unison combination is quite good...I may start with that.

Still-trying
07-31-2014, 08:17 AM
Jake, i think thats rembrandt Unison combo is a great choice.

Saskia, about the sennelier...i think its a color issue mostly. Either jackie or Charlie (colorix) once said that Unison has colors of England and (french brand) had colors of France. Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe its the colors that appeal to me or not.

I forgot to mention wonderful schmincke. Treasures i save for the very end

jakertanner
07-31-2014, 01:14 PM
Jake, i think thats rembrandt Unison combo is a great choice.

Saskia, about the sennelier...i think its a color issue mostly. Either jackie or Charlie (colorix) once said that Unison has colors of England and (french brand) had colors of France. Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe its the colors that appeal to me or not.

I forgot to mention wonderful schmincke. Treasures i save for the very end

I've been getting the itch to try a few other brand combos...lol Price wise, the GA and MVs are looking good. I requested a sample of the MVs, they're in the mail...looking to try the GAs. Any insight?

BTW, I was reading about another company that models their color profile from the local landscape, forgot which at the moment, but you are correct about the way some companies choose their colors. Which is cool because then you know that there will be different shapes between brands.

Saskia
07-31-2014, 04:32 PM
Jay - Oh, I see. I'm not sure about the colors in that set, since I've never seen it. I have the Paris Collection of 120 half sticks (here's a link (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/setlists10/snsparis120.htm)), which includes all the half sticks they make. I love the colors in that. Since we are talking about prices, I got that set for about $130 shipped from the SAA, which was another great bargain. I still have a lot more colors to try, though, since Sennelier has 525 colors: more than any other brand. I am leaning toward them for the full set I am planning to buy in a few months. But you're right, of course, in that color is a very personal issue, and that is the way it should be. If we all had the same tastes and color preferences, the art world would be a very boring place!

I think it's a valid observation about the color distinctions being related to the landscape, though. It seems like this might be especially true of old companies like Sennelier, since people's environments were a lot more limited at the end of the 1800s when they started designing their line.

jakertanner - Good news on the sample. I hope you get you hands on a Great American to try soon as well!

jakertanner
07-31-2014, 04:38 PM
Thanks Saskia, I look forward to it.

Jake

Nick7
07-31-2014, 05:54 PM
I have noticed that Terry Ludwig has several landscape sets, but I am not sure if that is what you meant.