View Full Version : Rembrandts on paper?

bill hansen
12-15-2016, 09:23 AM
A few weeks ago, trying to settle on a type of pastel I ordered two sample sticks of Blick soft pastels and four samples of Rembrandts.

The pastel samples arrived yesterday. Three of the four Rembrandts (red, yellow, and white) are wonderful in all respects. The "ultramarine deep" however, is probably unuseable. Even after sanding off the outer shell and carving off the end of it, it's almost waxy as I try to apply it. On sanded paper (Pastelmat, UArt), it's very nice - lays down nicely, wonderful color. But on any of my non-sanded pastel papers (Canson, Strathmore, Bristol) that blue just skips over the tops of the tooth leaving a dense waxy "layer" which will never fill the tooth, smooth out, or blend.

The stick is labelled "Rembrandt soft pastel" so I'm sure it's the correct product.

My question is this - are Rembrandts designed to be used only with sanded papers? I could live with that, though I'd like the option of using non-sanded papers too.

The Blicks are more what I imagined soft pastels would be. They kick up a tremendous amount of dust, but colors (though they seem slightly muddy) go down smoothly, cover well, and blend well on non-sanded paper. Of course they work on sanded papers too. The sticks are surprisingly small, about 1/3 the size of the Rembrandt sticks, which may partly account for their lower cost.

I have a small selection of NuPastel and have ordered some Mungyo Semi Hard, but I'd like also to explore soft pastels, and I'm puzzled by those Rembrandts. What's going on with that Rembrandt blue?

Thanks - Bill Hansen

Thanks - Bill Hansen

12-15-2016, 09:34 AM
While all the pastels are considered soft pastels, they aren't all the same softness, as you are discovering. First, each brand can be a bit different - actually a LOT different. Here's a link to Dakota pastels list of brands in order of softness. It's not an exact science to measure softness, but it gives you a good idea.


You'll find that Rembrandts are considered a "Medium" hardness, harder than most brands. The harder the stick, the less easily the pastel "flows" on the paper, which is why sanded papers are popular - because all brands will flow easier on those.

Now, aside from brand hardness or softness, you will find that some pigments make much harder sticks. There is another thread where someone mentions a particular Nupastel stick as being very hard. I know from personal experience that there are a couple Senneliers (a VERY soft brand) that are as hard as rocks. This is probably because some pigments need more binder to make them into sticks. It is something that happens and you just have to do your best using those particular sticks. I don't think that there are that many that fall into this category.

Hope this helps.


EDIT: I notice that the "someone" I mention with the hard Nupastel is you! A bit of bad luck, perhaps, that you have discovered two of those "unusable" sticks so early in your pastel travels!

12-15-2016, 10:47 AM
That's so frustrating. I know texture varies between colors and I just try to take it in stride. It can help replacing a problem stick with the same or similar color in another brand though. Try a Unison deep ultramarine, especially if you can visit a brick and mortar store with the problem stick and go matching around on floor displays.

I love the Rembrandts but that can happen with specific colors. I haven't noticed too much trouble with deep ultramarine but I also haven't used it much on unsanded paper. I also have a heavy hand, so I may just pressure through it whenever I use it.

Last possibility, that individual stick might be defective? If you try one in the store and the texture's different, replace it.

bill hansen
12-15-2016, 11:31 AM
Thanks to both of you who replied. I really appreciate that there are knowledgeable people here who are willing to help us beginners.

Dak, you may have misunderstood the problem I'm having. It's not the Rembrandt pastels in general, but that one stick of blue which is unuseable, except on sanded paper. I really like the other few Rembrandts I have.

Robert, thanks for your observations. Rembrandt lists three different values of Ultramarine blues. If I were in the midst of a project, and if I had the next lightest value, I'd try to make that work. I guess I just need reassurance that if I ordered a set of say - 48 or 60 Rembrandts - I wouldn't find that 25% of them could only be used on sanded paper. From your reply, I assume that wouldn't be the case, and that most Rembrandts can easily be used on non-sended paper.

(I'm not planning to order Rembrandts soon. If I can get a substitute for the Crimson in my NuPastels, that set will work - and I have the Mungyos coming, some time soon I hope. But the Rembrandts are intriguing, and eventually I may try a set of them.)

12-15-2016, 11:37 AM
Interesting post Bil!
I too find the Rembrandt blues particularly tough..I tried Prussian Blue twice before realizing there was a problem.
Oddly enough I found a hard pastel - Nupastel (Spruce Blue) a great substitute.
Unlike many who work on sanded papers, I like to work on regular paper (often tinted) and allow the ground to show through.

As has been mentioned different pigments within different brands can vary.
and that's how we end up with multiple boxes of multiple brands ! :lol:

Cheers Leslie

12-17-2016, 07:34 PM
I can say that Blicks artist pastels are a great price and most colors are velvety in texture but there's always a few colors that are just a bit waxier and harder than others and like the other gentleman explained some colors may have more binder in a particular pigment so they can be made into stick's. I love Rembrandt because they are on the harder side and last quite a long time. I don't think I've used deep ultramarine in Rembrandt but in my set they all seem to be the same hardness. But in my Blicks set I have at least 4 or 5 colors that seem harder and waxier but yet flow into regular sketch paper and cartridge paper even with an excellent feel and Blicks have a great pigment load!