View Full Version : Best Pastel Set for Intro To Pastels workshop

Frances Obie
12-10-2017, 10:14 AM
Hi All,

I usually post over in the studio/gallery but today I have a question about supplies for a pastel workshop which I have agreed to teach in the Spring. This will be my first teaching experience so I was hoping that anyone who has instructed beginners before would advise me about pastel sets to provide to the group. (The students would pay for the pastels and take their set home afterwards.) I was thinking that a medium soft set of reasonably priced pastels would be appropriate...I learnt with Rembrandts but I have read that Richesons or Art Spectrums could be better quality, and also reasonably priced. Any thoughts?

12-10-2017, 11:49 AM
Oh that is awesome! Medium soft reasonably priced... Jerry's Artarama has the Gallery Mungyo Artists Soft Rounds, the Gallery Mungyo version of Rembrandts. They are good quality, artist grade, but non toxic, don't include the cadmiums thing. I bought a set for my granddaughter to get her artist grade materials without toxicity because she was way too young for the cadmiums (and is a brilliant artist, amazing, currently doing commissions at 13).

I tested them and wished I'd found them sooner. They're awesome. Good medium soft and the 60 color range includes full spectrum, decent amount of lights and darks, it's a good palette.

Alternatively, Blick's house brand is now available in half sticks. 60 half sticks are $53.48 - these may be a bit softer than the Gallery Mungyo or Rembrandt range of medium suft but it's a great price. I'd been meaning to get a 120 half sticks set sometime at a bit over $100 but currently don't have space to spread out and do more.

Jerry's has the SoHo Urban Artist half sticks at $34 for a set of 60 and $63 for a set of 90, but I've never tried those. Don't know about their texture and quality. I checked price on the Gallery Mungyo Extra Fine set of 60 and it's $39.99 for full sticks - which is a really good price.

Extra Fine are the ones I was thinking of, because they also have Handmade at a much higher price (good quality similar to Unisons) and Soft Squares.

Gallery Mungyo Soft Squares are artist grade, barely, but really quite better than I expected. A friend gave me a set of 48 and I've used them a lot more than I expected to. They are available in open stock as well as sets. $49.99 gets you a set of 72 in a wood box that's very sturdy. The 48 color set is $17.99 in a cardboard box and it does have some hue gaps but not too many. This may be the most bang for the buck, but it depends on what you're trying to introduce.

Extra Fine Soft Rounds are really a lot like Rembrandt. They are closer to that sort of pastels. Soft Squares are softer, though they don't have the super-soft chalk feel of like Alphacolor.

Rembrandt is a good workhorse brand. I recommend the Mungyo Extra Fine mostly because they do beat Rembrandt on price and they had a good color range - the Mungyo sets in all versions have got a more balanced color range, not skimping on violets, not extending too much on nuances of fine red-orange like certain other ranges, not short on tints or darks.

If you're not looking at the bargain brands then yeah, Rembrandt is a good workhorse choice. Art Spectrum are heavier in the hand and a bit pricier, but excellent. Richesons have got this slight problem of color range in most of their sets, there are near-duplicates in some colors like a bright blue-green and gaps in the palette, so I tend not to recommend Richesons even though they have the brilliant red violets and blue greens that I love. Eh, they're something I'd pick up in open stock to augment other sets.

Rembrandt is the baseline that everyone's familiar with and my first set of 60 was a vintage Rembrandt set. $79.50 for a set of 60 half sticks. I have that set. It's good and portable, an advantage there is that the set's convenient for plein air and pretty much complete. There's only one palette gap and I can pick up a separate stick for that, break it and swap it in when I get around to it - no deep dark violet, but I'll take out one of the browns or grays for it when I get it. Otherwise the 60 half sticks is a pretty good set.

I'd definitely recommend half sticks though, for something like that. They can use the sides immediately without fussing over whether to unwrap or break sticks, the cost is lower, if they don't like the medium it's less money spent. And it's more colors for the same money.

So there's my rambling lineup of what's available. Mungyo Gallery Soft Rounds are a less expensive choice, Rembrandt half sticks are good, I wouldn't really recommend a set smaller than 60 for beginners. Palette gaps can cause some serious problems until they know color theory better and approximating mixed colors is easier when you have elements closer to what you want - like a pink and a red to get a dark pink instead of trying to tint the red with a white.

water girl
12-10-2017, 01:28 PM
You must be excited! You will have to post photos of your students' work. Robert has said it all. I'm not familiar with SoHo. Be sure to add a few pastel pencils to your list.

Frances Obie
12-10-2017, 02:45 PM
Hi Robert, thank you so much for all the information...very helpful indeed! I should have mentioned that I will likely order through a Canadian supplier...after exchange rate, shipping, duties etc. even Blick prices, unfortunately, are expensive. However Mungyo and Rembrandts are easy to get here except I wasnt able to find the Mungyo Gallery Extra Soft, just Mungyo Gallery Soft Squares - there is quite a difference in price compared to Rembrandts. I haven't tried Mungyo before, being under the impression that they were not-so-good quality but apparently I was mistaken. I have noticed that Richeson's color selection in the sets is not great and Art Spectrum sets don't seem to be available so I will eliminate those brands. I'm not familiar with Soho and it doesnt seem to be available in Canada. So, Mungyo or Rembrandts. Deciding on my supply list has become much easier!

Frances Obie
12-10-2017, 02:53 PM
Hi Karen, yes I'm excited! This is a new kind of challenge for me...its so different when thinking of how to help others be successful, instead of just myself. I will definitely take photos and share them. Although I wont require students to purchase pastel pencils I will have some available to try, along with a few Nupastels.

12-10-2017, 03:50 PM
Have fun teaching. Robert did a great job with choices. I never liked my Rembrandts but never realized they had a wax layer on them that needed to be sanded off. Haven’t purchased them in several decades so I’m guessing that is no longer how they come. Many people love them. I have many expensive brands but was so surprised when I picked up a large box of Faber Castell pastels on sale for $10.00 and they were pretty good. I get good intense colors from them. They are small square sticks.

I volunteer to teach art at a senior center. I teach several mediums and supply the items. When doing pastels, I come with a sketch on inexpensive pastel paper and pan pastels. They love it. Realize not good for a “real class” in pastels. I even spoil them by bringing matting kits.


Donna T
12-10-2017, 04:32 PM
Oh those lucky students! I hope teaching will be something you will enjoy, Frances. Best of luck in picking out pastels for your class. I wish I had been exposed to different brands earlier because I struggled along with my Rembrandt's and got frustrated with their limitations for coverage. It was when I tried some Great Americans that I was able to see how useful a very soft pastel could be in certain situations. If students could at least see the differences in the brands available they might feel comfortable buying additional pastels after you teach them the basics.

12-10-2017, 08:20 PM
Soft Squares are pretty nice, especially for beginners. The price is enough to get them into a good large range and the range is well balanced. But the Rembrandt is standard and it's also available in more places, I think. Don't worry about the SoHo, I think that may be Jerry's house brand sort of thing. The price wasn't that different anyway.

Frances Obie
12-10-2017, 10:11 PM
Thank you Pam, I hope to have fun with this! Teaching Seniors must be very rewarding. I haven't tried Faber Castells before...I know, some of the less expensive brands can be surprisingly good to work with. I have an old set of Grumbacher pastels which I love...I don't think they are sold anymore.
Donna, thank you for your confidence in my potential abilities! I am looking forward to teaching. Exposing students to a variety of different pastels is an excellent idea....perhaps have samples which they can share and try in the workshop...Here in Canada Sennelier is the most common extra soft pastel and it does come in half sticks.
Robert, I'm glad the Mungyo Soft Squares are good. A nice color range is important and there are advantages to using a square pastel.

12-11-2017, 07:16 PM
Frances, treasure those old Grumbachers! I used to have 60 of them, one set of 30 assorted and one 30 Skin Tones. They were what I used when I was a street portraitist and they were wonderful. I miss them to this day, have never been able to replace them. Would have liked to get a larger set but didn't at the time and I lost them in a move. Very frustrating. They were excellent quality but no longer made.

Frances Obie
12-14-2017, 02:28 PM
Street portraits... I admire anyone with those skills! Along with the Grumbachers I have an old portrait set of Rembrandts which I inherited from my father years ago - I use them for earth tones in landscapes - they have the creamy texture of a more expensive pastel. I wonder if the manufacturers changed the formulation over time...

12-15-2017, 03:22 PM
Rembrandts today are a bit different from the old ones. Main difference is that today's ones have a hard coating that needs to be sanded off. Many extruded round pastels have that. It's not a big deal, just have a bit of cheap sandpaper around to rub the stick against to get it started. They are still very similar softness and quality. I think some pigments got discontinued and other things changed but the overall quality is similar. I do love them.

12-16-2017, 10:15 PM
Hi Francis
I have a basic starter set of 40 Richeson soft half sticks. They are available at Mona Lisa in Calgary. It has a dark and light value of each of the primary colors as well as some neutrals


Frances Obie
12-17-2017, 08:35 AM
Hi Kathy, How nice to "see" you here! Your own signature set of pastels...wow!! Congratulations. They have a lovely looking range of colours...quite vivid. I have sent an inquiry to Mona Lisa about pricing. I would love to try them. Thank you so much for responding.

El Paso Mark
03-27-2018, 05:45 PM
Greetings all. How soft are the Mungyo Gallery Soft squares? Looking for something soft and buttery like Sennelier, but without the price : ) Thanx.



El Paso Mark
03-27-2018, 05:45 PM
Greetings all. How soft are the Mungyo Gallery Soft squares? Looking for something soft and buttery like Sennelier, but without the price :) Thanx.



water girl
03-27-2018, 08:06 PM
Hello, Mark! Welcome to the pastel forum. I believe that the square Mungyo pastels are student grade. I have the Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel set and they work just fine. Not too soft. Here is Lisa Ober's review on Mungyo (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/blog/artist-lisa-ober-reviews-mungyo-soft-gallery-pastels/). Jerry's sells the Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel sets. (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/mungyo-gallery-soft-pastel-sets). I hope this is helpful.

El Paso Mark
03-28-2018, 03:11 PM
Hi Karen, and thanx. The link you posted to the sets on Jerry's are the one's I meant to ask about and the ones I'm considering (Gallery Mungyo Artists Soft Rounds). So they're soft, but not too soft? Harder than Sennelier, but softer than Rembrandt? Sounds like what I'm looking for. I'm learning & experimenting with pastel so I don't/didn't want to spend too much at first until I see where I'm going with this (Also learning watercolor too :) )

Based on reviews I bought a set of the square Mungyo's, and now want a set of soft - soft pastels to add over the hard square base layers (Like Sennelier over Nupastel).

Now trying to decide whether to get the 30 and 60 set.

Any idea where you can find open stock, individual Mungyo soft pastels for sale? Looks like Jerry's only sells 3 & 6 packs. .

Oh- Don't know how I did it but I made a double post. How do I delete post's? Thanx



Frances Obie
03-28-2018, 03:58 PM
I just bought the Mungyo Gallery Artists Soft Pastels for my workshop and I'm quite pleased. Excellent value...they are the ones above student grade. Color selection is good. For softer pastels you have lots to choose from in the US. Here in Canada I use Senneliers or Unisons mostly.

03-29-2018, 02:37 AM
Mark the Mungyo gallery extra-fine soft pastels are available from Jerry's as individual sticks starting at $1.25 a stick. At this time, unless you want to go to Korea where they are made, Jerry's is the only place in the U.S. that you can buy them. Well you can get some sets on Amazon, but even then they are shipped from Jerry's.