View Full Version : What’s your ‘Workhorse’ pastel?

09-27-2019, 11:49 AM
I’ve just started venturing to the land of pastels and have acquired a few small sets and have been playing around and loving them. I’ve been reading all I can and going through so many post and have been reading the phrase ‘workhorse’ a lot, referring to the pastel you use the most for the majority of the painting. I see some work from hard, medium then soft while others do a whole painting using softies only.
I just went ahead and bought the jack richeson medium soft full set of 120 thinking they would be a good workhorse pastel and would compliment the 50 or so Rembrandts I have. I couldn’t decide on those or the Blick half stick set of 120 that was the same price.

So my question to you all is, what is your workhorse pastel? I know you all love the super softies for finishing touches, but what’s the grunt of your work done with? I would love to hear everyone’s opinions.

water girl
09-27-2019, 02:54 PM
You have made good choices. My workhorse pastels are Rembrandts, but I've added the Richesons half sticks and some Mungyo Gallery soft pastels. I usually lay in with Nupastels, only because I use sanded paper and this starts to fill in the tooth before using the more expensive pastels.

09-27-2019, 03:52 PM
Unison, which is very similar to Richeson hand rolled

My Beloved Muse
09-27-2019, 08:41 PM
My workhorse pastel is often Rembrandt, but that depends upon how dark the surface is I've chosen to work on. When working on a paper surface close to black in value, I find the Rembrandts are too light to start off with. In that case, I'll start in with the darkest Nupastels and a handful of dark Senneliers. Later on, I'll add on Rembrandts and Mount Visions. However, when starting on mid tone to light papers, I may begin and finish with Rembrandts or Sennelier. I suppose my mood, intuition and Inspiration plays a part in deciding what I might use to do the work. And, honestly, since I'm still learning what these different pastels are capable of, my answers are quite subject to change.

Sorry I can't give a more definitive answer, but I seem to be on a voyage of discovery, headed down a great river with many surprises. The raft I'm on is rudderless, and I'm having the time of my life. Perhaps in a years time I'll have fallen into a set of reliable approaches, and trusted materials or workhorses. But right now I'm the kid in the candy store, marvelling at all I see. At least, this is how it seems :cat:


09-28-2019, 04:05 PM
John, I totally understand where your coming from. I’m just beginning my journey, coming over from mainly watercolor which I’ve been doing for 3 yrs, and in that medium I still don’t have a favorite.
With pastels each brand I have feels very different though one or two feel more similar in texture than others. I thought it would be really interesting to see what others workhorse brands are, do you use hard pastels, are rembrandts gonna be a clear winner, or do you break the rules and use Schminckes mostly from start to finish, as I enjoy gleaming insight on how others work. I hope more people chime in.

09-30-2019, 10:12 AM
Like you, I have just recently ventured into pastels after years of painting with watercolor, acrylics and oils. I will forewarn you.... pastels are addictive!! A friend recently asked me to do a portrait of his dog, in oils, and it took a lot for me to put away my pastels and set up all the paints again. Once this is done, I'm headed back to pastels! I think I am hooked! :) I have watched a LOT of youtube videos of well-known pastelists, and most tend to use hard pastels first... then finish up with soft... so I have followed that pattern. I usually begin with NuPastels.... and often do an underpainting with alcohol to set in the blocks of color. The Rembrandts seem to be in-between, but they don't tend to overfill the tooth of the UArt paper I use. For the last stages, I use softies... I have a few Unisons, Richesons, Senneliers, Mount Visions, and Blue Earths... many of the latter are sample sets I ordered just to "try out" the various pastels. I love the soft and creamy. I find that the Senneliers (and I have half sticks) tend to crumble a bit worse than the others, so I doubt I will buy more of those. I just got my small Richeson set a few weeks ago, but from what I can tell, they will be great! I wish you all the best with your foray into pastels.... Just remember that you were warned! You may never go back to watercolor once you have gotten your fingers really dusty from this magical medium! :) Mike

Richard Barrere
10-02-2019, 06:30 PM
My workhorse pastels are mostly Unison/Richeson Handrolled. Those are the ones I go to for the bulk of my work, in the middle to late stages. I will block in with harder pastels and Rembrandts, then move over to these for the major part of my painting, then on to Terry Ludwigs and Schminckes to finish. That combination seems to work best for me, but my work is primarily landscapes on sanded paper, usually in a large scale, and I tend to work more with rubbing and blending with my hands in the early and mid stages too. It largely depends on your subject matter and style, I think.