View Full Version : Pastels sticks and pencils

09-10-2019, 11:24 AM
I'm a beginner with pastels. I've decided to try this technique because, as far as I can see, it's a kind of "bridge" between drawing and painting. My main tool will be a set of 90 Rembrandt soft pastels (general selection, half length), but I suppose I will also need some "color pencils", because I like to put some sharp details here and there in my paintings.
So I have a couple of questions:

1) which kind of pencils can be used together with soft pastel sticks? I guess dry pastels (like Faber-Castell Pitt pastels) are the most natural choice, but is it possible to use also oily/waxy pastel pencils like Polychromos or Luminance? Do soft pastels blend and layer nicely with waxy pencils? Or is it better to stick to dry pastels?

2) in general, I don't buy super-expensive, top quality products: a decent/good one is enough for me. But I really hate fugitive colors: what's the point of putting my efforts in a painting which is going to fade after a short time? (I don't care about centuries; I've seen paintings fade in months or just a few years). So, with lightfastness as a main requirement, which brand of dry pastels would you recommend? I've done some research on the internet, but I was not very satisfied. For example, I went to the Pitt Pastel pencil page at the Faber-Castell web-site. I downloaded the product PDF (Art & Graphic - Artistsí products and their uses) and looked for the lightfastness information (it's in the last pages). For the same color, Pitt pastels are often less lightfast than Polychromos. Look for a bright scarlet red: the only available Pitt pastel is n. 118, which is rated *; the same Polychromos is rated *** (maximum lightfastness). This is Faber-Castell - definitely one of the most serious and high-quality brand - but I've seen something similar with other brands.
So, I have the impression that companies are putting their biggest efforts in making high quality oily/waxy pencils, paying less attention to dry pastels: or maybe making lightfast dry pastels is more difficult?

My Beloved Muse
09-10-2019, 04:44 PM
Welcome to the Pastel forum!

I'd recommend Cretacolor pastel pencils. They'll work well with your Rembrandts and have a good reputation for lightfastness. They're easily available through online retailers either individually or in sets.

Good luck!


water girl
09-10-2019, 05:28 PM
Welcome! Colored pencils are waxy and won't work with your soft pastels. I use a variety of soft pastel pencils. Some are a little softer than others, but it's not a great difference. I've not had issues with light fastness. I lay in with the harder pastels, NuPastels, Polychromos, etc. Then go to my Rembrandts, Jack Richesons, Unisons, etc. You could also experiment with papers. A lot of pastel artists begin with the smooth side of Canson Mi Tientes, then move on to sanded papers. I just tried the Uart dark 500 grit paper and really liked it. Just have fun with this until you find your comfort zone. Pastels are quite addictive...just a warning! :angel:

09-11-2019, 08:16 AM
Thank you for your welcome and your answers.
I hope I will be addicted to pastels, I really like what experienced people can do with them.
I don't think I'm a beginner artist, but using this technique for the first times makes me feel like a beginner: I really feel a bit clumsy and intimidated. I guess it will go soon.

@My Beloved Muse: thank you for your advice. I couldn't find any precise info about Cretacolor lightfastness, I will do some more research.

My Beloved Muse
09-11-2019, 01:43 PM
You're welcome, Marioz.

Some other reputable makers of pastel pencils are:
Stabilo Carb Othello and Caran d'ache.

Once again, good luck!