View Full Version : beginners set?

12-13-2016, 04:18 PM
I purchased a few weeks ago a 45 pieces Rembrandt set (some half stick, some full ones), they have a good variety, but I realized I can't do the kind of detail that I would like to (I am mostly into landscape). So now the next step would be to extend the set, but it is very hard for me to tell differences looking online or without taking my set to shops (and the shops in my area don't have a very good variety of products anyway). What would you do? I think I shouldve bought a 60 or 90 set instead in the first place.

12-14-2016, 04:53 AM
P.S. I realize my question is not very clear: the problem is I would have to identify individual pieces that are not in my set only by looking online, which seems very difficult to me. There is no list of the consisting pieces either.

I guess there is no answer to this post really. It is more of an advice for other beginners to opt for a bigger set (60 plus), when they purchase their first one.

Mike L
12-14-2016, 09:50 AM
Perhaps everybody's answer to "what would you do?" is going to be different rather than it being an unanswerable question.

I don't know if you bought your set as a "set" or compiled it from some favorite colors, but most art stores that sell pastels have color charts in the stores and there are also many online sources for the Rembrandt soft pastels color charts. Here is one of them: http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Pastel/Rembrandt/Rembrandt-Soft.html. I also noticed that Pinterest has a number of the charts, too. You may be able to order a preprinted color chart - check with your local art supplier or online. Google is your friend - honest.

Check Jerry's or Dick Blick or other art suppliers with online presence for lists of the different sets.

So, what would I do? Well, what I did was what I suggested. You'll probably receive other advice along the lines of "buy the best you can afford" because price often mirrors quality in well known name brands. What I'd do, though, is read some more WC posts here in the Pastels forum and get a feel for what others say about other brands.

But, don't stop painting just to look for the perfect stick/hue/shade/color. Use what you have, check out the color charts, and grow your collection a few sticks at a time now that you have a set to start with. As for detail, you might consider some hard pastels or even pastel pencils.

Hope this helps.


12-14-2016, 10:25 AM
Dick Blick carries many Rembrandt sets and if you click on "item specs" there is a list of the numbers of the colors in each set. 'This should solve your problem.

12-14-2016, 10:54 AM
Dakota Pastels has a list of pastels that goes from softest to hardest. It might not be exact, but it gives you an idea on the hardness of each brand. As you can see from the list, Rembrandts are one of the harder soft pastels. http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/index-softpastels.aspx#list

On Dakota's site you can click on sets from different companies and you will see an up close photo of the set. It will give you an idea on what you are getting.


12-14-2016, 05:30 PM
Rather than trying to get more Rembrandts individually, I would consider a landscape set from some other brand to begin adding additional landscape colors to what you have. Lots of brands have specific landscape sets - check out Dakota Pastels or the Fine Art Store for the most choices.


12-14-2016, 05:38 PM
I purchased a few weeks ago a 45 pieces Rembrandt set (some half stick, some full ones), they have a good variety, but I realized I can't do the kind of detail that I would like to (I am mostly into landscape). So now the next step would be to extend the set, but it is very hard for me to tell differences looking online or without taking my set to shops (and the shops in my area don't have a very good variety of products anyway). What would you do? I think I should've bought a 60 or 90 set instead in the first place.

Good question(s). I am not sure if your color selection is limited or if the ability to sketch/paint detail is at issue. Maybe both.

I detail is important, consider hard pastel sticks and/or pastel pencils. They might be easier to work with for detail.

Personally, (tiny/small) detail isn't important but color value and color combinations/blends are, though I have so much to learn. After 3 to 4 small/medium sets from as many manufacturers, many vintage, I have begun to fill in with light tints, on the subtle side. These are more like a white tinted with a color verses a color that has been tinted with white. Trying to get a wider range of value.

I seems like my layering doesn't result in a mixing to an expected color that I like or need.

A smooth (not glossy), heavy (80/100#), digital, white paper is interesting to work with. I apply some dark or light color in some fashion over most of the surface, then take stick(s) of opposite value and very lightly drag it over the previously applied usually getting a lineal (not sure if that is the right word) or brush effect. The paper has a very limited tooth which enables the result. Here is an example of one of my Advent Star bookmarks. (As you can see, I have yet to graduate from stick figures. Stars in this case.)
Funny thing, this paper is so limiting in the number of passes, if any with my pastel stick/pencil. I am lucky to get 1 1/2 layers. But then, I am making small bookmarks. I can sketch/paint several in a session, trying different techniques, colors, values, etc. The size also limits me to the number of objects to sketch/paint.

Blending on sanded paper, pastel paper, and watercolor board/stock is entirely different.

Ok, I got off on a tangent. My point being. Detail can be limited by the mfg and types of pastel stick/pencils, media used to draw/paint on, and application techniques. When I started a few months ago had only one set of sticks. Then I acquired other sets from other manufacturers because of their differences. Then, I realized I was missing this color and that value, so I started to fill in with individual sticks this month.

It seems each stick, each paper has a purpose. If only I can discover them, remember, and then use again...

And good choice on Rembrandt sticks. They are one of my favorites to use.

12-14-2016, 08:24 PM
Here's a few suggestions.

Get a large set of semi-hard pastels, like 72 Cretacolor Pastels Carre or 120 Gallery Mungyo Semi-Hard, these are inexpensive compared to softer pastels and good for both sketching and initial layering. They save you money as you use those and keep softer pastels for later layers.

45 Rembrandts isn't quite enough, I can see where you'd have serious gaps in a set that size. I use a 60 color Rembrandt half sticks set for convenience and still need to get a dark violet to swap out for one of the dark grays or something, so that I have my essential dark violet. Dark Violet is a wonderful important landscape color, far more useful than black. One thing you can do is get a deep dark violet to replace the black stick in your set. But I'd suggest also going for a larger half sticks set, up to 120 half sticks if you can afford that. The 90 color Rembrandt half sticks does have a dark violet in there, from the pictures.

Then... consider getting a half sticks set of Senneliers as finishing pastels. These are super soft and will go over anything for final details. A small half sticks set may work because the 20 color set has the essential finishing colors, but, the bigger the better and the range of colors in the 120 color Paris Collection makes it VERY worth it.

Organize by colors and values to see where your gaps are, based on a 12 color wheel. Warm-cool versions of ROYGBV - warm leaning to the left, cool to the right, basically two versions of each color one leaning to each of its neighbors. Make sure you have tints and darks in those colors. For yellow and orange, the actual Shades (pigment mixed with black) will come out as useful olive greens and are vitally important to landscape painting. However on the organizing chart, I put in browns that lean toward yellow, orange and red and like having both a medium dark and a deep dark in those hues. I load the olives into Yellow-Green and teals into Blue-Green. Turquoise is a good additional hue, fine point of green cast blue or just another color category in itself.

I repeat the spectrum and values in muted colors - the grays leaning green, blue, violet and neutral (which I sort into the blue category), and browns into red, orange, yellow, in their own section of my pastels box. These muted colors and their tints (pigments mixed with varying amounts of white) are very important in landscapes too, from clouds to distant mists to rocks and foliage, all kinds of things. Muted colors are important.

The larger a set of pastels the more you'll have available. However - the cool purple-cast reds and their tints, warm orange cast reds and their tints are also important in landscapes for floral areas, for sunsets and dawns, for glints of light and highlights. You'd be surprised how useful pink is. Another dead useful color is a mid value dusty gray-purple. That turns up in everything including portrait assortments but it's vitally useful as a shadow color, as a balance to greens that isn't saturated and bold, as a neutral and a cloud color. Just a seriously useful color.

So that's a good way to organize pastels once you start combining them from different brands.

I wound up with 1,250 or so pastels that are unique pieces or sticks. Some were from assortments of used pastels, I don't always know the brand (but sometimes recognize unlabeled ones by texture).

Having hard, medium-soft and softest pastels together allows layering even on non-sanded paper. Senneliers will give you one more layer over just about anything and also gives lovely thick impasto strokes - bright or dark accents that cover whatever's under it. Also their half sticks are sturdier than the thinner whole stick Senneliers, less likely to crumble. They get used up fast. It takes a light hand to use them by themselves.

Hand Rolled pastels have a wonderful texture that may not be as soft as the super soft ones but goes on easily and also goes over other layers easily. They're fluffy, if a good pastel is buttery they're more like whipped cream. Unisons, one of the best and most expensive pastels, comes in half sticks and that's my 100% favorite set of all - 120 half sticks in an assortment evenly around the spectrum with tints and darks in all rows, with saturated and neutral colors, with violet included.

Mount Visions are similar in texture, so are Gallery Mungyo Hand Rolled, Richeson Hand Rolled, that whole category.

Try a sampler of different brands from Dakota - I found the Greens sampler really useful for landscapes, it gave me a wonderful variety of darks, lights, tints, specific hues of greens, some saturated and some not. Every one of them was useful. Many landscape painters can't have enough greens.

Terry Ludwigs are a super-soft brand too and they have 90 greens sets. But for landscapes you may find you'll need just as many good browns and other colors. There are autumns and winters.

Winter scenes, you really want to have light tints, pale colors around the spectrum. White is far less useful than you'd think and pale-pale colors wonderful. Art Spectrum has two near-white collections that are much more useful than pure white, you can use them for your lightest areas and still get a blaze of sparkle but give it even more emphasis by choosing color.

You can optically intensify a color by placing it next to its complement (opposite on the color wheel, violet next to bright yellow) or mute it by glazing or scumbling a complement over it. Generally it's easier to mute colors than intensify them, so having the full saturation colors is more essential. You can finger blend all but the final layers to get combinations that gradate smoothly, or blend them with an intermediary stick.

Now that I've said all that about expanding your collection, cheapest ways to do so are to check the Swap Shop here for secondhand sets and collections (secondhand assortments of pieces tend to be well organized but may need cleaning and sorting), check eBay for secondhand sets and collections that may come in good pastel boxes and permanent sectioned boxes. Don't ever get rid of set boxes, even after you use up the pastels in them. They are good sturdy storage boxes and the slotted foam is good protection in them.

You don't actually need 1,250 pastels to have a good range. I'd have been happy if I'd been able to get 120 half sticks in a good brand to start, because that's about where the "no major gaps in the range" level falls.

Last product mention - Blick Artist's pastels are extruded sticks, softer than Rembrandt, firmer than Sennelier, in between, they have a set of 120 half sticks for $105 or something like that. Good price of less than a dollar a color, softer texture would let you try them out and use them for some finishing work over the Rembrandts - which means you can get the masses right with what you have, then layer over them with other colors in more detail getting closer to the actual hues you want, but with the first color peeking through.

While I did suggest a large set of semi-hard pastels, it's also possible to get by with only 24 or so, all the most essential hues are there for sketching - and for underpainting you don't need color to be as true as on the final layers. I use a 24 color set of Cretacolor pretty often, it's handy in a metal tin and good for rambling around. These blend well and when using them I just layer and blend till I get to the last layers and use visible marks for texture.

Before any new supplies arrive, take what you have and try combining colors in every way you can - crosshatching, layering, finger blending, layering without blending, blending with another stick, pointillism dots, anything you can think of. Try this with opposing colors, complements like red and green or purple and yellow. This will expand what you can do with what you have, by a lot.

Last, it's more important to establish values and masses of value than to get the color perfect. It's not like using colored pencils for realism where having a French Gray and then a brown that's a bit browner and another that's a little warmer all in the same value range helps. It can be, but that is not the only way to use them by a long shot.

Big sets let you choose closer to the exact stick you want. I tend to avoid landscape sets as they don't include colors I find essential in landscapes - the pinks and yellow tints for the sky, the purples, the floral colors get left out but even without flowers in the landscape those hues do come in. Landscape sets seem best when they're tailored to a particular landscape like a Southwest Desert set - where those combinations fit particular climates and scenes. When they try to be universal they leave big big gaps that general assortments do fill.

Hope this helps! I've posted versions of the "types of pastels for beginners" post many times, this one's more focused on where you're at and where to go from it.

Seriously consider looking for used pastels here or on eBay, often someone will decide to leave the medium or someone dies or moves abandoning stuff. I bulked my collection a lot with used pastels. Last, watch for Clearance sets. I'll snap up almost anything on Clearance, it's where I got quite a number of really good sets and tried brands because I got it marked that far down. Biggest set I have is a 200 color discontinued Winsor & Newton set - that has a glorious range, no gaps at all - in a cool wood box no less. I don't worry about not being able to replace used up sticks. I can approximate them and it's much easier to categorize by texture and type, then use the ones I have or sort what I just got into its proper category.

Diane Townsend ones have grit in the sticks, so do the very expensive Henri Roche' - and those are a bit pricy, so I didn't really get into them. Pumice formula pastels are a joy on non sanded paper because they dig into it and create more tooth in the paper. I have a dozen Townsends in a "primary" set that has secondaries, but it took some skill to get to where I could work with only a dozen pastels using the black and white pieces to shade and tint the hard way. It'd be more convenient to get some shades and tints of those, they're on my wish list.

Sets are less expensive than buying open stock and personally I've found that once I had it, no stick wasn't useful. I stopped worrying about being stuck with colors I'd never use when I noticed myself constantly using colors I hated and would never have bought on their own - because in context that was the right color in the right value and saturation.

With enough practice all you need is 12 color wheel, a few browns and grays, with tints and shades. But there are also luscious combination pigments, stuff like a gradated mixture of gold and violet through various shimmering browns, semi-muted colors, iridescents, oddities... after a while all those extras become useful too. Point for a large collection, it's much less likely that a few essential sticks get used up fast. White stops being used up fast as soon as you get some good light tints.

I only use pure white in very small areas, often only one area in the painting. The rest are done with tints that look white in context but have depth and hue - and a sparkling complement can look brighter than white.

Terry Ludwig V100 color is "eggplant" or a violet so dark it's black. It's blacker than black, a brighter more intense black that makes black-pigment sticks look charcoal-ish. I found it essential once i owned it. Tried it on the recommendation of several artists here and if you get only one Ludwig, start with that super-color. It makes lovely darks and it can also be an interesting sketch and wash color for underlayering. Violet for the "charcoal sketch" layer gives the whole painting a unified feel and the deep darks a tremendous richness.

Scenes with a lot of green in them rely heavily on oranges and violets for harmony. Using secondaries together really helps keep them from looking monochrome, even if you're using yellow greens and blue greens together adding in some orange (including the muted orange hues of various earth browns) and violets in the shadows balances them wonderfully. Then you get to autumn scenes and all the bright warm hues are important in landscapes. Winter is all about light tints and muted grays and browns, but treating them as low saturated versions of colors helps organize them well.

Hope this helps! I've been mostly doing landscapes and animals, so been paying attention to landscape color a lot for some years now.

Continued in next post...

12-14-2016, 08:41 PM
DETAIL... in landscape, detail isn't as important as you'd think. Or rather, it doesn't go in at the time I thought it would when I first started. It works best to block everything into value masses, big masses like a value notan, with or without color. Then start refining those, staying vague at the edges of the painting so the eye isn't drawn out of the painting, then add more and more detail over the layers till you are just working in the focal area.

Work large compared to other mediums like colored pencils realism. Shave an edge or corner of a stick to get small marks and dots. Blend with other sticks. You can also mask with the edge of a Color Shaper or just a cut piece of cardboard to get a hard edge. An erasing shield can give you something to press a small dot through. Many ways to do details. But it's best to start vague and get more detail as you go than to heavily detail the entire painting.

If you do, then reduce contrasts of value and color out toward the edges and spotlight your focal areas. It's easy to overdetail if you do realism. It's also easy to waste a lot of time overdetailing areas that'd look better if they were misty and vague, letting the viewer's eye rest and drift toward the more detailed area.

Say you have a winter scene, snow on the ground and vague trees in deep tones plunging into a muted grays sky. You've got this opalescent sky of layered complement tints, the snow is lighter tints going up to the lightest (snow is one of the few things lighter than the sky), some muted greens in evergreen trees with snow on them... and a bright male cardinal with a muted female cardinal on a branch in the middle distance, just big enough that you can get the birds in with some detail.

I'd work the area behind the birds pretty vague, pose them against a blended bit of sky so I can get detailed over it. Do the branch they're on first in blended dark then layer a bit over that, make sure snow's mounded on it and shadowed a bit... and the actual birds, put them in very carefully for maximum detail. Depending on the size of the painting, the birds might be the size of one finger joint up to the size of my thumb, with some of the near ground stuff also blurred like the background. I'd sketch more distant trees in with lighter versions of the same colors as the tree the birds are on, less detail but that creates a misty effect. Then shave a pale color over the whole so there's a couple of patches of snow effect over the whole thing, like snow blowing around. Birds would be rounded in body because fluffed up from the cold, posed looking at each other. You'd see the bright male first but follow the tilt of his head, you can see his lady love on another branch.

Those are the focal area, that space with the birds in it. That much distance from the viewer - not the nearer ground features, which are blurry, or the very distant features that'd be very blurry and muted. I wouldn't draw attention to the bottom of the painting, mounds of snow over rocks or logs are a good bottom of painting but leave a visual path to go in, as if the viewer was hiking into the scene, a little footpath running up under the birds.

That kind of landscape planning makes it easier to work with less detail. Viewer does not really care about the patch of lichen on the trunk of the sapling that's much nearer to the viewer on the side or identifying the evergreens way beyond the birds... the story of the painting is the birds. If it's a larger painting you could have multiple focal areas with birds or rabbit tracks or other features. But have pointers leading in and through the painting, both forward and back as well as side to side.

All this is more important than detail, even to realism. It's about emphasis. If you like painting a lot of detail, use lower contrast of value and color to de-emphasize detailed background areas. But try it by putting most of your detail in the features that are the most important.

Pastel pencils and hard pastels are good for detail, but for those you don't want to layer much with the softer pastels and not layer more than a blended down layer under them. You can finger blend where you want a hard pastels or pastel pencils detail and then go in with them over it to do things like the bird, the pine cone under the bird's foot, that kind of thing - and then don't accent as often with them in the more loose impasto areas like that near sapling's bark texture.

Pastel pencils are VERY good for detailed rendering. Colin Bradley has a bunch of videos on using pastel pencils for detailed realism. I'd still recommend the largest set you can get. Cretacolor, Pitt, there are many good brands. I like Cretacolor, currently am using Carb-Othello Stabilo because that's what got packed and not buried in my stored stuff. But all the brands are good on pastel pencils. Derwent has some fugitive colors but labels them, if permanence matters Pitt or Cretacolor are good.

Hope this helps!

12-17-2016, 07:42 PM
I'd go to Dick Blicks online and order Rembrandt in "open stock" that means singularly!
That way you get the exact colors you want.
I have the same Rembrandt set for my first real pastels and the selection I got in my set is really quite a good range of colors especially for landscapes as I too love to do.
But I ordered a set of 40 I think.. Dick Blicks artist half pastels to expand my range of colors but I still had to buy a few open stock of Mount Vision artist pastels in very dark violet and very dark evergreen.
Dick Blicks pastels are quite good and excellent price.

SAS Designs
12-18-2016, 03:34 PM
Forever grateful to the WC person who told me to "shave" the finish off the Rembrandt pastels I bought. Couldn't understand why everyone seemed to love them, and I didn't. There is a kind of "coating" or "finish" on the Rembrandt which you have to scrape off - to get the full benefit of the pastel.

I used a very soft grade of sandpaper.

12-18-2016, 06:20 PM
I think the "coating" is a side effect of the forming process, crushing the pigment on the edges of the cylinder as it's pressed through the extruder. It comes off easily with an emery stick or cheap sandpaper. I've been slowly doing that with my set, still haven't done all of them so occasionally I need to sand the one I just reached for.

12-20-2016, 07:13 PM
Thank you All for your suggestions and help!
I guess I will have to look at those colours a bit more closely and order
individual ones. I might learn something in the process, after all. :)

Special thanks to Robert, to the extensive answers.) I guess I used detail more in the sense of "interest", as your description of a successful composition (?) seems to suggest as well. So what I meant was more like areas where multiply layered shapes converge and form probably what are the focal points of a painting. I am not sure how clear this is...? The point is, I am not talking about, to use the analogy of digital screens, more pixels, but rather there is a higher density of colours without having to rely on hard edges (after all this is one of the beauty of pastels, isn't it?). To me the main character of pastel painting is the kind of thing what Karen Margulis does. Which is really often very vague, lacking detail per se, but not lacking interest. But that's just a question of taste, of course. :)

12-20-2016, 11:26 PM
Yes! If you've been following Karen Margulis, she's elegant at giving the impression of a lot more detail than she actually puts in. I'd suggest actually buying one of her small paintings, one of the tiny minis if you can't afford a larger one. It helps to see her works in person too.

The trick is to be aware of where you're going to put that focal area and use key details to establish important information, or maximum interest. Maximum contrast of value or color. Maximum accuracy of rendering.

Some of this has to do with the size of the painting too. In a small painting, a 9 x 12" or so, you have to focus on one center of interest or the whole thing may look too busy. In a very large painting, say 24 x 30" or bigger, the artist can go to detailed realism throughout and not lose interest because the viewer is seeing some of that detail in peripheral vision. It's still good to steer the viewer away from the edges though, and set up paths from one interesting thing to another. A branch that points at the bird, sort of thing, branches make good pointers. So do falling leaves sometimes.

An animal will become the center of interest unless there are more than one animal. Figures will become the center of interest, but don't need to be rendered in detail, in the distance they can be three strokes and still read true. Those strokes are more like calligraphy - but that's also where something like a hot red jacket can help draw interest, black pants against a light snow field, and that it's the figure, all reinforces that's the center of interest. Someone walking a dog may enhance a park or wilderness scene.

Except that since it's me, I'm more likely to put in a cat meandering along.

12-28-2016, 09:51 AM
Would you recommend the Faber-Castell studio quality (whatever that means), for underpainting? It's too cheap, but maybe good enough for that purpose?

I am thinking about this set: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B000I5MNNO/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1S26AJMSYRAJS&coliid=I2FVY3GFY9ZU9H&psc=1

From the comments on amazon it seems they are extremely hard and
not very vivid, but I guess for underpainting it is still ok?

By the way, I am not in the US, so some of the pastels recommended in the above comments are not available to me for the same price.

12-29-2016, 12:49 PM
Here in the US anyway, that Faber-Castell set you linked to is superseded by the Mungyo Gallery Soft SQUARE pastel set.

72 full-size sticks that seem to be a near exact match for the Faber-Castell Studio (used to be branded Goldfaber) half-stick set - right down to the same color names.

At Jerry's, the Mungyo Soft SQUARE set (which comes in a great wooden box) is often less expensive than the F-C Studio set in a little cardboard box. Would be worth checking the availability and pricing where you are.


12-29-2016, 07:17 PM
Not sure about the Goldfaber set. If you're not in the USA, you might do better with a set of semi-hard pastels like Cretacolor Pastels Carre' or Color Conte' or something else.

Look at your options and if you do get a student grade, do a home lightfastness test. Put swatches in a sunny window and either cover half of each swatch with thick cardboard or put an identical set of swatches inside a dark box at the back of your closet or somewhere totally light sealed. Check on them every few weeks to compare. If after a year everything's still more or less the same color it's not a problem. If some colors fade, avoid using those in a painting as the underpainting may show through in places.

It's still a good idea to look for stuff on sale, for mixed lots and used sets, you can get really great pastels used sometimes online.

12-30-2016, 10:14 AM
The way I interpret your question, you are looking to fill gaps in your collection but aren't sure what colors you have versus what colors are available, yes? If that is the case, hopefully these links will be helpful for comparison and searching.

Here is a chart with the colors included in Rembrandt's Assorted set of 45 set (http://www.dickblick.com/items/20026-0459/#colorswatch),

here is a chart of those included in the Landscape set of 90 (http://www.dickblick.com/items/20026-0029/#colorswatch),

and here is the full 218 color chart brochure (https://www.royaltalens.com/media/3830288/RSP-Consumentenfolder-EN_2013.pdf) from Royal Talens, the company that makes Rembrandt pastels. (They have a set larger than 218, but that includes duplicates of certain colors.)

Happy painting, and for the record, I definitely second the idea of gently sanding off the outer coating. If you use the sides of your pastels, the coating will keep you from getting an even stroke, and will come across like a harder pastel than it actually is. Get rid of that coating and enjoy!

12-31-2016, 10:02 AM
Thank you Grinner! Yes that was my situation basically, but I have kind of given up on extending my Rembrandt pastels, I'd rather want to have some softer ones.
So my new dilemma is, should I go for this set (it's basically the Mungyo Gallery Soft quality, if I am not mistaken, the producer of Jaxell is Mungyo):


or rather handpick Sennelier soft pastels, which are now on a 33% discount at an online shop here in Germany (they now cost 1.95 dollars each).

I understand I have to do my own homework with studying and choosing the right colours, but if you have any suggestions which ones are crucial for landscape painting, then pls. shoot:) I am thinking about getting a good range of purples/violets as they seem to be an organic part of landscape and foliage. There is just too many, even though some are out of stock already.
If anyone wants to look at the list:


About the sandpapering the Rembrandt sticks, I have noticed that shiny layer, but doesn't it come off anyways after some usage?

Robert, you really made me wonder with talking about a one year lightfastness test, that seems quite a commitment to me at the moment, but then, why would I quit?

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

12-31-2016, 01:22 PM
Yeah, the lightfast test seems daunting at first, but you won't quit and you can find out which sticks you can't trust doing that. All it takes is a sunny window and some strips of paper for swatches. The main reason I haven't been doing them was that I was moving too often, then didn't have a sunny window. I'm looking forward to starting some once we get my studio built this spring.

Yes, the Rembrandt shiny layer comes off after some usage. It'll wear off by scraping on any sandpaper. I don't always remove all of it, depends on what I'm doing. Even if I use it on its side, swiping it clean on one face and keeping the rest leaves the sticks a little cleaner on my hands.

Landscapes, you will need a good full range of colors. There are sunsets, there are flowers, there are different atmospheric conditions. Having some lights is important. Having a sky blue or several values of sky blues can be very important, also grays for values in clouds ... but here's the kicker.

A spectrum set that has warm and cold versions of ROYGBV and several tints of each color, a couple of shades of each color and six extra light tints - ROYGBV - or at least a warm and cool near-white, but better to have the spectrum - is more versatile. Browns and grays are useful, especially muted colors - but you can easily mute colors by layering true colors and the tints and shades are already a bit muted.

Browns fill in the dark end of the value spectrum on yellow and orange especially, also reds though red shades are pretty good. Greens, you can never have too many greens, depends on your climate and location. If the set's well balanced around the spectrum, you're less dependent on specialty colors for your particular type of forest, wilderness, city, whatever. Urban scenes take having brights as well as muted colors.

Portraits can be done mostly in earth tones, but the cool colors are sometimes needed for clothing, eye color and hair highlights and so on. It's a richer result if you also have a general assortment.

So other than "extra greens" a landscape set is going to be closer to a general assortment. As soon as gardens and flowers come into it, there's no useless color. Let alone sunsets and atmospheric conditions like the Golden Hour. What I found is that many Landscape Sets skimp on violet or don't even include it if they're small, while a deep violet is essential and mid violets really useful.

It's much easier to create a good specialty landscape set like Southwest Canyons than to develop a landscape palette that serves everywhere. Many seem to lean toward a certain type of northern pine-ish forest where there's a lot of muted color and the light is cooler, skies more violet cast and wintry. In summer skies lean closer to green cast blues, in winter toward violet cast, just moving in those directions. The closer to the equator, the deeper and more vivid the sky color and the more green cast rather than violet cast. Thus your skies in the Southwest Desert set will be turquoise, a lot of the sticks warm earths golden and red, greens are very grayed and muted... and it is perfect for a quick plein air going out in the Southwest Desert looking at all that banded red sandstone in formations. But that's not what you need to paint a Canadian winter.

Choose some open stock by observation. Look at the sticks and think about the places you'll paint. Sticks that remind you of something - oh that's the blue-green of shadows in those trees, or that's the earth red of that old brick building... they're important sticks to have with their tints.

But you can get good results with a general set. That 90 color Jaxell set looks good. They do look similar to the Mungyo Artist Soft Rounds. Good to know if that's the same manufacturer. Someone mentioned Jaxells in other threads a long time ago, can't remember who.

01-23-2017, 09:50 PM
I use Kohinoor Toison Dor in the initial block in stage and later add the very soft Sennelier pastels. I am very happy with the very dark shades available as a set of 24. Kohinoor brand is soft and Sennelier is very soft. So this combination works with me for my landscapes. ( Kohinoor Toison Dor and Mungyo are the two brands which are more easily available in Indian stores )

Manju Panchal. ( Fine artist from India )

01-27-2017, 02:14 PM
Oh, forgot to mention but noticed it on the Jaxell page you linked to. Schminke are very, very, very soft. Expensive but if you're looking for final layer finishing pastels, Schminke are a good choice. Sennelier may be less expensive there. Depends on what's available. I'm not sure if Schminke has half sticks sets, but I often recommend them. It's rare to use up a full stick unless you paint large and often, while half sticks sets allow more individual colors and more tints and shades of a given color. With that, you don't need to use a particular stick as much or over as large an area.

01-29-2017, 07:56 AM
Well as another beginner in Pastels I ended up with this items:

I bought first some from Reeves before I found this forum and the are a good exemple of some you should not buy. The don't hold many layers, at last not with the pastel sticks I have and the overall quality is cheap, in this case the price says a lot. You get 3 Pastelmat sheets for 16 from this brand.

That brings me to the Pastelmat ones that got so many times recommended here. I like them, the qualtiy is much higher and it works with all the pastels I use atm.

Additional I got Velour Paper for Pastel from Hahnemuehlen. I will find out today if the work for me......

Pastel Pencils

48 Set from Koh-I-Noor Gioconda got another recommendations here.
Quite good, like the color. However I found out that my pencil sharper that works for fine for the Color Pencils like Faber Castell Polychromos/Koh-I-Noor Hardmuth/Caran d'Ache Luminance dosen't work for the Pastel Pencils. Switched over to a Boxcutter for them.

Hard Pastels

24 Set from Faber Castell

Used them only for sketching and some underlayering. I will see if the work better then the soft one with the Velour paper.

Soft Pastels

Only a 48 Set form Koh-I-Noor Extra Round Soft Pastels. You can get them easy here in Germany.

The work for a beginner, you can easy blend or add some layers with them if you have the right paper. The work with pastelmat not so much with the Reeves one.

Additional I ordered a 5 Colors Set from Pan Pastel

Now one quest to it. PanPastel got a few times notice here as non toxic. However the 5 set did have a sticky on it that says "California Proposition 65 WARNING: This product contains a chemical know to the stat of California to cause cancer"

Seems I got a import version from the US here in Germany. Now is this some "gerneral" warning you find often on Pastel colors over there or did something change?

I wrote down some other of the recomanded brands that I found interesting. A 90 Rembrandt half sticks set plus Sennelier 80 half sticks are not to expansive around here. Not sure if I need more Hard Pastels, if so the have a 48 cont'e a paris set here that I could add.

That brings me to another question. How good are the Jaxell ones truly? I know you can't find them much in the US but it seems the reason for this is that Jaxell is only the name for Mungyo in the EU. You can find the name list with the material safety data sheet.

The are inexpansive here, a 90 set of "artist grade soft pastel" would be ~80/74$ However you can't order single sticks.

Rembrandt on the other hand are well known and a 90 half sticks would be around 61 so nothing to complain about either.

01-29-2017, 08:08 AM
Oh forgot to add the lightfast sheet for the Jaxell.


1 star low lightfast
2 star high
3 star very high

Info was from the honsell page