View Full Version : Which basic set to get? MV or TL?

01-25-2015, 02:48 PM
Hi Folks!

First, thanks for all the great info and insights. Been reading here for a year or so now and can't tell you how much I value all the great input and talented and friendly folks!

I've been messing about with pastels and watercolors and am getting ready to buy a large set of pastels. I've tried quite a few samples so far and even bought small sets of Rembrandts and Sennelier. I've narrowed down my choice to Mount Visions and Terry Ludwigs.

I'm torn between the MV workshop set and the TL Stan Sperlak Mid Atlantic set (or maybe Maggie Price value set). I feel I need to start with a good balanced set and then add on from there. I have some Senn. half sticks; love the texture and colors but they are too small and fragile for my big goofy hands! The sample TLs I have I really like, but they seem a bit smallish for the price.

I love the work produced by artists with both MVs and TLs. I'm doing mostly landscapes, combining pastels and watercolors on watercolor paper. So I'm thinking, start with the MV workshop, additional 25, plus the landscape addition. So that's 100 sticks and with Dakota's current sale that would come to $259. Considering the size and quality of the Mvs, seems like a great deal.

But Stan Sperlak's set of 90 is only $275 through his website. That's another great deal. And the colors look amazing. Ugh!

I'm hoping someone may have some thoughts on the color/value range of these workshop sets????

Thank you so much! Can't wait to hear what you think!

P.S. Been following the other discussion on buying TLs....what a tortuous , but lovely, addiction!

SAS Designs
01-25-2015, 02:58 PM
I'd add another to your choices: Great American.
They may not be as "creamy" as some say TL's are, I don't know, but they are GREAT VALUE ( pardon the pun) and come in two 60 1/2 stick sets. Dick Blick has one set, and Fine Arts in Rochester NY has both the 60 piece 1/2 stick sets.

I find the Mount Vision more "dusty" and harder than what I like to use over the Rembrandts.
Good Luck

01-25-2015, 04:10 PM
I second the Great American. I've recently brought a few of them and have Loved working with them so far. My starter set was Rembrandt, and in hindsight, I wish I had maybe went with the Great Americans instead. I do have a few Mt. Visions on my list of things to try (I'm sampling a few brands before choosing one to stick with) but while I have some interest in the TL, I can't seem to find open stock anywhere but the manufacturer, which is not a problem, but is sorta off putting. I say, if you haven't given the Great Americans a try, you should pick up a couple. They go on so well and blend beautifully for me.

01-25-2015, 04:48 PM
Ok, excellent! I'll give them a good look. I like the size of the full sticks
And the pricing seems good. Any other set reccomendAtions?
My eyes get bleary trying to discern colors on these damn screens!

Barbara WC
01-25-2015, 06:25 PM
Do you work in an expressionistic style or more realistically? This is one consideration- I find the softer the pastel, the looser my style.

If you work realistically, it's harder to get lots of nice lines out of Great Americans because they are so soft.

Mount Visions are harder yet soft at the same time- somewhere in between your Rembrandts and Senneliers. Ludwigs are closer to Sennelier in texture.

My preference is Terry Ludwigs of all of them listed here, but others prefer Mt. Visions, depends partly on how heavy handed you are and your style of working... For me, I tend to have a soft touch, and I have small hands so break my Terry Ludwigs in half. I personally don't like the feel of the Mt. Visions in my hand because they are so big... So it's all personal preference...

SAS Designs
01-25-2015, 09:26 PM
I think you'll find the great american 1/2 sticks are a good size, you'd have to break the whole stick - and starting with the 60 1/2 sticks, you get a chance to see many more colors.

01-25-2015, 09:59 PM
Okay, I typed out a lengthy response, and somehow I lost it..... crying now. I'll try to recap my comments.....

I have the 90pc Sperlak Ludwig set, it's magnificent. (I also have many other Ludwig sets, they're all fantastic......) I'm embarrassed to say how many Ludwigs I have...... I also have Mount Visions, well over 200 of them. The 50pc Landscape set is great, as is the Thunderstorm 25 pc set. I've got the 50pc Portrait set....I've got lots of open stock as well..... suffice to say I'm pretty familiar with both Ludwigs and Mount Visions.

I also have plenty of Great American pastels. I have their two half stick sets, their gray set, as well as other full stick sets. They're nice, but not nearly as nice as the Ludwig or Mount Visions, just my humble opinion. Great Americans are very soft, almost creamy. They are nice for accent strokes, but I don't see myself ever doing a complete painting using them. Conversely, I've done complete paintings using just Ludwigs as well as only using Mount Visions.

Ludwigs and Mount Visions are two great choices, especially if you are painting landscapes.

Some advantages of Mount Visions:

1. They are a great value and excellent quality. I break mine into thirds, one piece for my studio palette, one piece for a plein air box, and the other stays in its original box with the label. A great way to keep track of the colors for reordering. And, you essentially get three complete sets of some very high quality pastels, a real plus.

2. They come in some very unique colors, quite nice.

3. They are not as soft as Ludwigs, so they can be used in the early stages. I particularly like their consistency, almost like a Girault, but larger.

Some advantages of Ludwigs:

1. They are a great shape. Sort of like using a square brush, which I find really nice, especially for landscapes.

2. They give you nice edges, especially straight edges.

3. They are pigment rich, gorgeous colors.

4. They are known for their unbelievable darks, they are amazing.

I would consider ordering some of each. Mount Vision makes a 25 pc Thunderstorm Gray set that I find indispensable in my palette. I highly recommend this set to all my students. (Ludwig makes a gray set also that I absolutely love, and I find it to be indispensable as well.... it's hard to decide which to recommend, but if I had to, I think for Landscapes the Mount Vision Thunderstorm Gray set would be my choice.....)

Some ideas:

Ludwig 60pc Sperlak set or Ludwig 60pc Plein Air Set (which I do have, and I love it). Of course you could get the 90pc Sperlak set instead.....but I'm trying to be conservative here :lol: .

MV 25pc Thunderstorm Gray set
MV 25pc Landscape set (again, the 50pc set is also really nice, but I'm trying to be conservative....)

Other sets to consider for the future:

30pc Ludwig Maggie Price Gray Set
60pc Ludwig Maggie Price Basic Values Set
30pc Ludwig Intense Dark II set

I wouldn't stick to just one brand, my reason is because each one offers different advantages. It's nice to have a bit of each I think. Remember, this is just my opinion, everyone works differently. But because you were asking for opinions, I thought I would share mine.

Hope I didn't confuse you.....:eek:

01-26-2015, 07:39 AM
Man... Now you're making me want to invest in a set of TLs! :) I could really use some intense darks, I'm always struggling for mor contrast.

01-26-2015, 09:23 AM
I would start with two sets. One box basic hard pastels like Nupastel and then a basic box of any softer pastels .i like a half stick set to get started for the variety of colors . If cost is the issue Mt. Visions are reasonable and I do the same as Ally and break for my boxes . Terry Ludwigs are special and I don't break as they are perfect in shape with edges and flats to use like a brush .
I have many brands collected over the years and these three are my faves.
The Sennelier half stick is reasonable and a great pastel too.
Have fun ! It's such a wonderful medium .

01-26-2015, 09:37 AM
Thank you Barbara, Suzy and Sansea for your thoughts on this!

I really love the colors of the Great Americans and I think I will get some of the half size sticks as they really seem to be a great deal. But I do think they may be too soft for me as a main pastel.

Chris, thank you so much for your thoughtful post. While I realize everyone must find their own preferences, your experience with both MVs and TLs is really, really helpful.

What do you think about the MV Greg Biolchini (sp?) workshop set? My thinking right now is that its a good idea to get a balanced set to start with and then add to that. Does that make sense?

If so, I think a good way to go might be the basic 50 Biolchini workshop set, plus the landscape add-on, the thunderstorm set (have to check on dupes), and then start adding TLs and GAs, especially for the darks. Yikes!

I should add that I really like both brands; the shape and texture of the Ludwigs and the big size and grit of the MVs. A good pairing I think, and plenty of options to keep adding between them both.

Plus, I still have my 40 half stick Sennelier portrait set, though I really don't like fishing out those little bits and bobs in the heat of the moment!

I think I'll go out and buy a lottery ticket now. Thanks again everyone!

SAS Designs
01-26-2015, 11:19 AM
Once Chris posted about the need to SAND the outsides of the Rembrandts, they became my favorite first layer on Colorfix paper. What a difference :)
Only place I'd differ, and remember CHRIS IS THE EXPERT HERE, is that I prefer the Faber Castell hard pastels over the NuPastel.

01-26-2015, 01:21 PM
Yes , forgot to mention Rembrandts I use these as well as a "hard" pastel I bought a half set years ago and they are alway part of my pallette . I use colorfix too and I am using a few grades of uart now that I can't get Wallis .
I like to use both Nupastel and Rembradts with an alcohol wash as an underpainting too.
I have been painting in pastels so long that I have some really old pastels I still use . I like many other brands that I have collected over these years but we do develop a favorite collection of mixes for many uses .

01-26-2015, 01:40 PM
Mount Vision, no question. Everybody put down the rocks, b/c I'm gonna say it - I don't care for my TLs & seldom use them. Ouch! Stop that! Just too soft for me to do an entire painting with.

01-26-2015, 01:58 PM
I'm with you Madeleine, tried TL's and didn't care for them. I have a full set of MV's and love them, plus you just can't beat the value, they are a good all purpose stick. Personally though I'd get a combination of smaller sets of Rembrandts and MV's to start out with rather than a large set of either one.

01-26-2015, 02:07 PM
Mount Vision workshop set is a good one, it's well balanced and you can add to it with two additional sets later. MV may be a good choice for your "big goofy hands" as the sticks are huge. If you like to work large and don't like working with smaller pieces, you might actually wind up just halving Mount Visions and have a broader side stroke on a larger painting.

Ludwigs have a perfect rectangle shape like a "flat brush" effect. I would definitely recommend Maggie Price Values set. I haven't bought it because I got too many smaller sets that overlap with it, but that is a complete palette laid out in a way that encourages painting. It's an enormous advantage to have your spectrum colors laid out in values all in one box. That tray is all you need to do a painting in any subject, more TLs are fun but it's actually set up just right.

I have the 120 Unison half sticks set that's laid out the same way and find that's an important feature in itself. It's easy to keep track of value that way. It's easy to stay within a value range by moving my hand along a row from hue to hue on the same value.

Mount Visions are soft and fluffy, just more firm than Ludwigs. They have the advantage of size and disadvantage of cheap less practical boxes. I didn't like the way the clamshell box mine came in refused to stay open, the way a box with a lid can have the lid slid under it and take up a smaller footprint on the table. That's probably what keeps the price down. You may want to make a special tray or get a pastel box for them if you get the Mount Visions. They will need to be reorganized.

Overall I'd recommend Maggie Price Basic Values to start, but this really comes down to texture too. Don't go for Blue Earth, they are much smaller than Terry Ludwigs. Ludwigs are a full stick shaped like a half stick, shorter and wider. The narrow side gives a narrower flat-brush shape, the wide side a slightly wider one, then the width of a full stick gives a nice broad one. Corners and sharp edges are easier with that shape.

If you do the Ludwigs, consider breaking the sticks and putting pieces of all of them in a tray.

I can't choose for you and most of what I'd say about both brands has already been said. The main thing that wasn't said is packaging. Mount Vision saves money on less expensive boxes and what you pay for there is pigments. Terry Ludwig uses high quality boxes that can be used as permanent studio or on the go boxes, both have good foam so if you do MV, just taking the foam out of a box to create a tray can work well in studio. Or break the sticks and put all the colors in each of the boxes, then weight down the lid of the use-box while painting so you don't have it flipping closed all the time. That was the biggest problem I had with them. I love the pastels.

One thing about color. Terry Ludwig doesn't have intense greens, even the strongest greens are somewhat muted and softer. Mount Vision goes all the way to very bright greens and a full range of hues from yellow-green to blue-green just short of turquoise. These greens have uses. Terry Ludwig's variety of greens is enormous and the values are great on them but for mixing and muting reds, sometimes I need a bright green. For certain subjects like Christmas ornaments or someone's tent or a green ribbon I might need that "unreal" bright emerald mid-green, also it makes a good spice in some forest scenes between the yellow-olive greens and the near-turquoise greens.

Both of your choices are hand made by pastel artists! So that's something really cool.

Their texture is quite different and you're the one who knows your hand. Either would be a good choice. If you go for Ludwigs, the Maggie Price Value set has a lot going for it.

Last thing to keep in mind is your latitude. If you're in the North, the Terry Ludwig palette will probably be closer to nature outside your window, all those dusty olives and deep blue-green pines will be right there in a Northern latitude light. If you're in the South and closer to the equator, Mount Vision has tropical colors, an entire small set dedicated to Florida type colors. Terry Ludwig has gaps in doing tropical scenes. Location may matter. Look outside your window and think about where you live.

Literally the closer you are to the equator, the more intense colors will be in everything and the sky will be darker and greener in hue. Up north the sky will be a paler violet-blue. Winter leans pale and violet-blue, summer to turquoise. Those blazing turquoise skies in the Southwest Desert paintings with screaming red rocks are real. Add water for a tropical rain forest or coastal area and you have brilliant mid greens and yellow greens and blue greens in the foliage as well as the pale blue-grays and yellow olives. Most leaves tend to run to yellow green but how muted and how far toward yellow varies by location - sometimes even if it's the same species of tree!

If I were traveling and painting world wide the MV's would have a more complete palette.

If you're eventually considering a full range set of either, then try both in smaller usable sets first. 60 Maggie Price Values is a complete palette in itself but Ludwigs have a lot more unique useful colors. You must, must, must have V100 if you get no other Ludwigs, it's a palette essential, the violet darker than black is insanely useful. It does brighter pupils in eyes in portraits. It does great shadows in rocks or trees. It's more beautiful anywhere you'd use black.

50 Biolchini Workshop is a good palette too, I looked at it and it's excellent. The colors in the two supplements don't match and do enhance that palette well, so it's nicely expandable.

So there's my two cents worth, still not deciding for you because only you can know your hand and needs. Either is a good choice but I would anchor Ludwigs in a Maggie Price Values set if I started over, since that set has the values of 12 colors around spectrum organized so well it's easiest to use. The only thing comparable are the Unison 63 and 120 color half stick sets.

01-26-2015, 05:30 PM
I really love the colors of the Great Americans and I think I will get some of the half size sticks as they really seem to be a great deal. But I do think they may be too soft for me as a main pastel.

Chris, thank you so much for your thoughtful post. While I realize everyone must find their own preferences, your experience with both MVs and TLs is really, really helpful.

What do you think about the MV Greg Biolchini (sp?) workshop set? My thinking right now is that its a good idea to get a balanced set to start with and then add to that. Does that make sense?

If so, I think a good way to go might be the basic 50 Biolchini workshop set, plus the landscape add-on, the thunderstorm set (have to check on dupes), and then start adding TLs and GAs, especially for the darks. Yikes!

I should add that I really like both brands; the shape and texture of the Ludwigs and the big size and grit of the MVs. A good pairing I think, and plenty of options to keep adding between them both.

Plus, I still have my 40 half stick Sennelier portrait set, though I really don't like fishing out those little bits and bobs in the heat of the moment!

I think I'll go out and buy a lottery ticket now. Thanks again everyone!

I like your choice of sets, the Biolchini set and the landscape add-on with the Thunderstorm Gray set sounds like a smart idea, I don't think you will be disappointed. MV used with Ludwigs are a really nice pairing, you should enjoy them. As for what Ludwigs to get, it's really just a matter of color preference. All his sets are thoughtfully laid out, (I have a ridiculous amount of his sets.....)so you really can't make a mistake other than not being careful about what colors and values you want/need. Since they play nicely with MV, I would think about getting a dark set, you'll never need another dark if you get it. And, the Sperlak sets are beautiful, you can't make a mistake there either. I would ask the question "if you bought the 60pc set now, and added the 30pc later, would you get doubles?" I would think not, but I would ask. Then you could stagger your purchase, so as not to break the bank all at once.

The reason I didn't mention any other brands is because you were specific about your inquiry, and Ludwig and MV are excellent choices, so no need to add more to the mix and confuse the issue. These two brands are a great start, you've got something soft, and something not so soft.

I do understand the personal nature of preferences, and I'm not surprised that there are artists that don't like Ludwigs, or any other brand for that matter. It really is a personal preference, what is wonderful to one person can be totally wrong for another, that's what makes the world go round. I wouldn't recommend Great Americans as a workhorse pastel, yet there are others that love them. I do like them, but they are not my "go-to" pastel.

For the record, I don't break my Ludwig pastels either. They are just the right size right out of the box (for me).

And yes, if you are going to get Rembrandts, get a half stick set, and sand the outside of the sticks, you will be much happier with them. I discovered this out of complete desperation, I was ready to pitch them, when I figured I'd try sanding them just to see if it removed that icky "skin", and voila! It worked so very well, I use my Rembrandts very often on Canson MT paper, in portrait workshops. They are a great workhorse pastel.....

01-27-2015, 01:04 AM
i am personally not a fan of mount visions, i recently bought a skin tone set, and did not realize they were as hard as they are, i swear i have nupastels that are softer...

more importantly though they are the biggest pastels around, they make schmincke's look small! so big that i cannot get any sort of detail whatsoever with them, unless i cut off small chunks and use those instead, and that is not something i enjoy doing...it may sound stupid but i believe i would be much happier with my set of mount visions if they were half as thick as they are but for the same price...i don't find value in getting a big pastel for the same price as everybody elses slim pastels...sort of like buying large commercial house-painting brushes and trying to do portraits with them because they are the same price as small tipped artist brushes...bigger is often not better...

i still haven't decided if i want to give them away or try to trade them for some coveted wallis paper...either way i don't think they will be a part of my collection for long, something that saddens me a bit, aside from the money wasted, im not sure why it pains me, i guess maybe the loss of what i was hoping they were going to be...

01-27-2015, 08:49 AM
Senorsloth, no one I know uses Mount Visions without breaking them. Even halves are a bit large to handle, they do best in thirds. They really are that huge, and it's the broken edge of a piece that gets finer details. I went through the same frustration for a long time about breaking sticks.

I used to work almost entirely with the tips and not break them on purpose. Over time a couple of the sticks broke and several of them wore down to half length that I'd now consider more usable. It's one of the reasons I love half stick sets of anything - they're preshaped and I don't have to peel labels off them.

If you don't like the Mount Visions texture, don't go for Unisons, they are similar. Sounds ilke Terry Ludwigs would be great for you, since they are short blocks comfortably sized to paint without breaking.

SAS Designs
01-27-2015, 11:56 AM
senorsloth, I find the MV's too hard too, great selection of colors, but overall I find them more "dusty" than creamy, and generally hard.
I am now firmly in the GREAT AMERICAN "camp" for softies. Senneliers only for the very final layer, and then the 1/2 stick, rather than the full stick. My full sticks of Sennelier are a few years old, so I don't know if they've changed now too, but the 1/2 stick are so much a better texture for me.

01-27-2015, 10:05 PM
robert- i am not really against breaking pastels in theory, i used to crush and re-roll every single pastel if i broke it, but i got over it pretty quickly...to this day though i mostly only use smaller pieces if they break unintentionally, i have only a few sticks that i felt the need to break to get a finer line. i guess my issue with mount visions is that they pretty much require you to chop them up to use, that seems counter intuitive...i don't find value in getting a thicker pastel for the same price as one that is properly sized, id rather they were just slimmer so chopping them up wasn't an absolute requirement.

i know what you mean when you say they are similar to unisons, in texture anyway, they both have that marble dust kinda feel to them, though IMO unisons are much softer. I buy all my soft pastels from loose stock, i have nice collection(nothing like urs robert, but we'll see in 30 years eh?), but very few sets, and when i buy unisons i purposely buy the slimmest sticks(there is a lot of variation usually), or if it's really bugging me i'll crush them up and re roll them longer and thinner, like a sennelier.

my main set of softies is divided almost evenly with schmencke, sennelier, and unison, and i recently got a dozen or so great americans, and i use giraults and nupastels as my hard pastels...

sas designs, i am with you, i LOVE these great americans, they are a big pastel, but their square shape makes them still usable for detail, and sooooo creamy soft!

i cannot tell a huge difference between great american, sennelier, and schmencke, they are all so soft, and it's a toss up for a favorite, although i absolutely love the colors in my unisons...

maybe i'll crush up my mount visions and make them into two sets of slimmer sticks, i do it often enough with normal softies, i am a bit reluctant with these as im worried with all the added ingredients it may not work as well as with traditional brands, that contain only natural pigment and a tiny bit of binder...

01-29-2015, 10:28 AM
Thank you all so much for your opinions and insights! I'm still trying to decide, balancing price with the most useful palette etc. Because I'm just starting to add pastels to my other stuff, it's hard to know exactly what to get. But all this feedback has really helped me zoom in on my priorities and options.

My little supply budget is getting stretched pretty thin! I also need to order some paints, papers and other stuff. Yikes, the do-re-me really flies when it comes to art supplies!!!

I'll be certain to let you guys know the final decision. Maybe if I get my courage up, will post a few attempts with the new sticks.

Hey senorsloth! Don't smash up them MVs! Maybe we can make a deal?? Send me a PM if you'd like to sell them.....

Ok, thanks again everyone.

01-29-2015, 11:24 AM
Glad we could help! Keep in mind that this order is just to start, if you find your hand or your habits or your palette varies there's always getting more later. Also depending on where you live, sometimes brick and mortar stores have discounts on broken sticks.

That's personal, senorsloth. I can see why that makes a difference to you. I used to never break sticks on purpose, now I usually buy half sticks and if I get full sticks I break them. But long ago I reached a point of having a good range and not needing more, just enjoying more.

01-29-2015, 11:36 AM
Hope I'm not hijacking this thread by asking how people break their pastels (specifically the TL's without them disintegrating? Do you score them first? I may try this.

01-29-2015, 12:31 PM
Score them with your fingernail right where you want the break, hold them firmly in both hands and snap. It'll come right apart where you want it to. Not hard at all once you've done it.

01-29-2015, 10:19 PM
Break with confidence, don't hesitate. You will get a clean break that way. I don't break Ludwigs, they are the perfect size already for me.

Equus Art
01-30-2015, 06:55 AM
I do break my TLs as I have small hands and sometimes using the larger square makes it hard to get into smaller places without dragging the back end of the stick across someplace I don't want it to.

I use my exacto blade rather than a finger nail, to lightly score all the way around the stick and then snap it in half. Minimal crumbs, but some dust.

I have also broken my MVs into thirds and then scored the 3rd of the piece in half length wise to give me an edge to use. Works great.


01-30-2015, 01:52 PM
The choices of colors, sets, and textures among brands are mind boggling (like you guys don't already know that!). I found that I had to sit down and think hard about my intent with pastels if I was going to make this investment.

I realized that I like my pastels like I like my women: dark, mysterious and intense! And while I'm not a dedicated pastelist, I am slowly and surely being seduced by them!

So what do I want to accomplish with pastels? It has to be something I can't do in either oils or watercolor. The pictures that really turn me on are the dark, moody, atmospheric land and seascapes of artists like Whistler, Degas, Redon, and others. And those are the types of paintings I want to do with pastels!

I first started messing with pastels with my figure work and I'd like to continue with that and perhaps do some loose, moody portraits too. Of course there's a lot of distance always between what I want to do and what I can do.

So, sorry to be a pest, but here is my new choice: Three Ludwig 30 piece sets of:

Neutral Greens


Intense Darks I.


I've got a 25% off Blick coupon so each set would only be $75. I think that's a good deal--and not too crazy for a beginner's investment. And I have my Sennelier 40 half piece portrait set to fill in here and there with lights and brights.


While the MV sets made sense to my brain, when I look at those Ludwigs...well, you know the feeling!

The one thing I don't like about TLs: so expensive to buy single sticks! $4.95, really? Oh, and also, how they refuse to bounce when I drop them on the floor. Pulverize is the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, unless you wise, experienced folks tell me that this is a really really bad choice, I'll probably order these in a day or two. Of course I am still open to all your suggestions.

After that, I'll see how things go, then consider expanding with some more lights, and definitely some MVs. But for now, those dark, subdued but intense colors are driving me nuts!

Thanks so much for bearing with me!!!

p.s. I never realized how simple mixing paint was!!!

01-30-2015, 10:30 PM
Your color range looks good! You've got enough there to paint anything you're interested in, seriously. The textures are similar enough between Ludwig and Sennelier that mixing them up in the same painting will work fine, they're in the same category.

You've got the spectrum, that's vital, combining them both. There's not much overlap with the Senneliers and the Sennies have got the portrait colors you need for figures unless the figures are in cool lighting. Plenty of violets and pinks, those essential colors that turn out to be so important when I never thought so before I got into this medium.

This is a good assortment! The boxes are sturdy and you can either spread out all four on a big table or stack them and rotate what's on top on a small one, or just take a tray and pull out the palette you need for a given painting. Looking good!

I just painted with my Ludwigs today and fell in love with them all over again, even on unsanded Bogus paper. They are fun. Very expressive, painterly, loose, soft, fun for doing wild kinds of things and don't need breaking unless you have very tiny hands.

01-30-2015, 11:35 PM
Thanks so much Rob, glad to see you think it's okay. I'm a little afraid maybe it's too dark, but I won't really know till I get down to it. I can always add lights and brights. I just really love those subdued greens, dark violets and neutrals...just makes me want to paint! Thanks again for all your feedback!

01-31-2015, 10:40 AM
sorry, i don't mean to come off so harsh on mount vision,lol it really is personal opinion, and as i said, i tend to make some fairly arbitrary decisions about what i like in my collection. the colors are nice, and im sure lots of people love them, ive even been warming to my set a little, after deciding that im going to try to remold them in the shape of nupastels, i ordered a clay extruder on amazon, with the intention of liquifying my sticks and extruding them into several long, thin, square pastels, ive decided that i like the colors and density as a hard pastel, the only issue i have with them is the actual shape and size of the original sticks. i think my initial disappointment with the brand largely stemmed from the fact that i ordered them thinking they were super soft, i think i confused descriptions of mount visions and great american...and that's obviously not mount visions fault, they clearly have a place among all the other top brands.

to break mine i use a razor blade, and just push down, guillotine style, i like the control it gives me, and i tend to break them at 45 degree angles, so that i get a nice long flat, with a sharp point on both pieces.

The choices of colors, sets, and textures among brands are mind boggling (like you guys don't already know that!). I found that I had to sit down and think hard about my intent with pastels if I was going to make this investment.

yes indeed! it can get even more difficult to buy sets, in my opinion, after you already have a decent collection...i have a collection of soft pastels that i am pretty proud of, but i want more, i've been looking at set after set from several brands, and many sets i love, i want the richard mckinley set of 78 great american pastels very badly, but from what i can tell i already have half the colors in the set, but from other brands, there is no way to really know online, as the colors are never exactly as they appear in pictures. i would like a portrait set also, probably sennelier, but again, i have bought up quite a few portrait colors one pastel at a time, but to make it more difficult they are mixed between unison, sennelier, and schmencke, with a few great americans as well...

to be honest i wish i had started this hobby as you are, with a fairly comprehensive set right off the bat, so i could fill in gaps with single sticks at my local blick store, rather than the reverse...collecting pastels becomes a bit of an addiction, i love having a very useful range of colors, but i must admit, i have bought well over a dozen pastels simply because they looked so beautiful, knowing they weren't going to get as much use as other colors i could have bought...i really love salmons and sunset reds and oranges, and there are some truly gorgeous sticks out there! it truly is a labor of love.

01-31-2015, 03:19 PM
I hear you senorsloth!

My pastel painting skills may not be improving right now, but I am getting really good at shopping!

I made a mistake with those Sennies. I loved the colors and the texture, but found they are too fragile for me. I broke a few just cleaning them! And once a little half stick breaks, I have a hard time using the broken bits.

At least with a big ol' Mount Vision stick, I can still use it after it hits the floor! Maybe not the best criteria for buying pastels, but.....just the other day I dropped one of my Ludwigs and it just went poof! Heartbreaking!

So yes, now I am trying my best to get a fairly complete set to start with and then add on as I go. I have a hard time telling the difference between colors on a computer screen, plus it's winds up being just too much screen time for me.

You're right, this whole thing is an addictive, labor of love. It's not like this when I buy tubes of paint. Yikes!

01-31-2015, 03:28 PM
You will surprise yourself about how useful those salmons, reds and oranges are. Once you have them in hand, they liven up all sorts of subjects. I felt that way too for a while and finally realized some hues that I thought of as extras really aren't.

02-04-2015, 09:52 AM
Which paper/ground is your favorite? This can have an effect on which collection, brand, hard, soft, in between..hand and finger size..what is mechanically comfortable for you..if you have physical limitations...I have some of all the above listed brands. I found by going with the best quality that you can afford will influence the final work. I do the unusual en plein air watercolor under painting with pastels over top on kittie Wallis board or u art board. It took me a while to decide..what combos go best where ever I paint..mid Atlantic, south Florida, Grand Canyon areas, etc keep on painting and exploring, you will always be challenged and never"arrive" because there are so many wonderful venue choices to paint..it's all about the journey, not the destination..wishing you all the joy and best ! Share your art when you can.

02-04-2015, 07:05 PM
I am beginning to love Uart for its variety of grits, they all behave differently. I always loved Canson Mi-Tientes for unsanded paper and as soon as I found it, Coloursoft both for their variety of colors. PastelMat and Canson Suede are similar and another category. Wallis was too rough for me but I still have some and maybe it's a matter of different techniques and layering lots.

I like to change up my papers. I have a variety of them and each type of pastels seems to have favorites. That's one of the things that's making it fun for me, just like the pastels I like to change up the paper. I also love the Stillman & Birn Beta paper, rough 180lb white watercolor paper, as unsanded paper with small texture elements and a good toothy rough surface.

02-05-2015, 11:47 AM
My two cents (hey, you get what you pay for!) is to try a Great American before buying a set. I bought a set a long time ago and I shouldn't have because I don't like the consistency. Love the colors but never pick them up. I much prefer TL and MV. This is a matter of personal taste , you may love them but find out first by trying a couple.

I've just been reorganizing and cleaning my pastels while giving myself a few sharp kicks for not having done my research before spending my money because I've decided to take the GAs out of my working box.