View Full Version : Photos of pastel collections

Richard Barrere
12-20-2019, 12:34 PM
So I was planning to go shop this weekend for a few sticks to help fill in my collection, and I thought it would be a great idea to take some photos of my collection so I can look at them in the art store to help me choose the colors I need. I thought it might be fun to share. I have an old set of metal drawers that help me keep things organized, but as you can see I'm not real fussy about grouping them all according to value. I separate them mainly into warm and cool versions of each color, but that's about it. Some strays wind up mixed in there, and they should definitely be cleaned at some point. Something for a rainy day. Take a minute to share your collection too, I would like to see how others do it.


Donna T
12-21-2019, 10:01 AM
Wow, what a gorgeous collection, Richard! You have so many different brands and your system of storing them looks very practical. Thanks for sharing the photo. Mine are put away for now but I use a medium Heilman box for the most part. At the time, I thought it was a good choice and I still think it's a beautiful, well-made box but since I don't ever use it for travel I feel a little guilty for having it - except it does close up very conveniently for storage so maybe not too much guilt. :rolleyes:

12-21-2019, 11:01 AM
Beautiful collection of pastels, Richard! Mine is not nearly so large yet, but I will keep the idea of the metal drawers in mind. Perhaps a chest actually designed to store tools.... but used for pastels, instead! Thanks for sharing!

12-21-2019, 11:18 PM
What a great collection Richard. I hope you have specified in your will who is to get them because I cannot see how you will live long enough to use them all.

Richard Barrere
12-22-2019, 10:34 AM
Thanks all, but I was hoping to see other collections too! And yes, I admit I have more than I will ever use, but I have lots of fun refining it now. You notice I am lacking oranges in my workhorse section as well as my TL pastels, so I am currently working some deals to fix that. Just bought a set that contains some of those and I will sell off the rest. That's how I finance most of this btw, buying and selling. I keep only what I need and sell the rest. I find art supplies at flea markets and thrift stores an through local craigslist. I get a lot of enjoyment from it!

12-23-2019, 05:50 AM
In the past, there have been a few posts with pictures of people's collections. Here are two you might appreciate:



12-29-2019, 07:42 AM
I am coming to pastels via color pencil and graphite -- I have this set which belonged to my mother. It is from the 1930s -- not very good to begin with, but if you even look at them now they crumble! Have just sold some of my pencils to buy an 80 count set of Sennelier half soft pastels. Should arrive tomorrow -- CANNOT WAIT!


AND re Richard's collection --
marvellous, absolutely marvellous BUT those are Hamilton typecases -- I once had 128 of them filled with wonderful lead typefaces until I had to sell the whole collection including presses, a guillotine, etc. to pay the taxes. One of the saddest days of my life -- it was a collection made over a 30 year period.


That's me -- the fp is Fairfax Press.


Richard Barrere
12-29-2019, 09:23 AM
I believe that is exactly what kind of unit I have here! I got it from where I work. We used it to keep film positives back in the screen printing days. It fell into disuse, and was taking up space so I volunteered to take it off their hands. Each drawer slides out if you want the whole tray. I think it is perfect for my use, but I realize they are hard to come by. I can't imagine having 30 of them! That truly must have been a sad day indeed. Glad you got through it and you are joining the ranks of the nutty pastellists. Beautiful old set you have to start your journey. Show us the Senneliers when you get them!

12-29-2019, 11:29 PM





12-30-2019, 01:17 AM
[This is the third time I’ve tried to post – for some reason, I managed to get the pics up (2nd try), but every time I WRITE content, WC pretends I’m not signed in and kicks me off. Getting more than a little frustrated (grump, grump).]

Richard, I love your pastel collection and your storage!

I’m new to soft pastels this year, but have spent more $$$ than I probably care to admit to myself! It is definitely an expensive medium to work in and a heck of a lot bigger challenge to handle on the storage front than watercolor!

I started with some half-stick collections from GA, Richeson, and Unison, as well as some samplers. I quickly got tired of trying to work from the boxes and since I prefer to work plein air anyway, I bought a pochade box first (Dakota). I struggled like many on the Heilman vs. Dakota front, but finances won out and I actually like the Dakota pochade box for portability (and there is something about taping the support inside a box type arrangement that doesn’t appeal to me so I like the way that is handled on the Dakota box). Most of those early pastels ended up in the pochade box along with some random Girault, some pieces of Nupastels, etc.

I finally reached a point where I figured I should focus on just a couple lines and settled on MVs for my “workhorse” pastel, Nupastels for some of the underpaintings, and TLs for…well….BECAUSE. As I started to collect the MVs and TLs I worked out of the original boxes at first, but realized that was just not going to work. I need to put my pastels away after a painting session because I have 3 curious cats, no dedicated studio room, and one of the cats has a penchant for consuming pigment (whether watercolor or possibly pastels – he started sniffing the boxes when I first got them so he KNOWS there are delicious pigments in there).

So…I opted for the large Dakota traveler box. My thought (feel free to laugh) is that I really DO want to contain my collection within the bounds of that box – it will be “storage” for indoor painting purposes, but will also be an expanded collection to take to workshops, maybe some plein air sessions, etc. I have an easel that will hold it alt! Alhough the easel is probably never going to be (for me) an every day plein air thing even though it’s a field easel because….holy cow, what a process to set it up or fold it back down! I’ll take the pochade box on a tripod mount any day. My “field easel” is now my permanent indoor easel.

I have found I prefer working with small pieces of pastels so this works well for my current plans. We’ll see how it holds up long term! I suspect I still think about color from a bit of a watercolor perspective because I struggled a bit with how to organize my 10 sections in the box. And the second section from the far right is mostly the MV Thunderstorm collection because while I forced myself to take them out of their box, I couldn’t make myself redistribute them any further – Northwest gray skies, right? Lol Mixing the TLs in with the other pastels was HARD – I only have two sets of 30 and the first set was the 30 Autumn Leaves collection and I took that set plein air painting multiple times in fall and loved it. But…I don’t really want to go out plein air painting with half a dozen boxes so….. I also have a set of the TL darks and I found I do NOT need all of those in the working box, so about half of them are waiting their turn.

I use a cigar cutter (great tip picked up from an old thread here!) to cut my pastels although the TLs remain whole. All the “extras” are sorted into small Sterilite containers that have a cushion on the bottom (I got a cheap set of cushions foam at walmart that I cut to size for the sterilite boxes). I do swatch sheets (by brand) when I buy new sticks so that if I’ve used something up, I can (hopefully) match the last nubbin of color to a swatch to re-order.

I keep my complete set of Nupastels in their box and I have some panpastels, also in their designated packaging. When I go plein air painting, I have a large Gladware container that I throw things into including a few Panpastels and applicators.

For Christmas, I got myself the Blue Earth Nomad set. I actually went to Dakota Pastels last week intending to get something else and was seduced by the nomad set which had much more appealing colors in person. It is also smaller than I had imagined and since I do travel occasionally overseas for work, the Nomad set will stay in it's very lightweight set-up and can go with me (I am always on the edge of exceeding my luggage weight limits so the pochade box wouldn't make it for a work trip). When I use up the mish-mash in the pochade box, I will probably repopulate it with MV and TL pastels, but think about doing it in the sort of value-driven way of the Blue Earth sets (I'm heavy handed so I suspect I will blow through those BEs faster than I can afford to replace them - the MVs are a good value and will be my workhorses).

Richard, do you pre-select your pastels before beginning a painting? Since you have them sorted by brand/softness, instead of by color? I'm just curious. It was really a challenge for me to give up all those cool manufacturer boxes and organize by color, but I think that suits my plein air mentality for working :)

Richard Barrere
12-30-2019, 03:24 PM
Wow, this is a very detailed post, thank you for sharing! This is just the kind of thing I'm looking for here on WC, some details about how others store, work, sell, buy, all that stuff. I find it fascinating. Those are beautiful photos and your sets are so nice and clean and organized! Amazing. Nice collection of quality stuff!

Yeah, the pochade boxes are great, especially for those who like to work plein aire, but I prefer to work in a studio with no distractions. I like the idea of getting out and seeing the subject first hand, right there in the great outdoors, but setting up and taking down and the wind and possible rain around here in the PNW, I just don't see how it's worth it. Besides, you've now seen my collection, how would I bring all that with me??? No, I prefer to work inside where it's warm, predictable, and comfortable.

In answer to your question about choosing my pastels, I will normally sit down to do a painting and block it in with hard pastels, then do a quick underpainting with alcohol. While that dries for about 10 min, I take my small working tray and put the pastels back that I used on my last painting and choose the dozen or so sticks for the current painting. By the time I get them ready, the underpainting is usually dry, so I'm ready to begin. I will sometimes need to add a few sticks as I go along, but I usually work with about 20 to 25 total per painting. I work large, usually, and I layer a lot and do a lot of blending in on the first few layers, then lighten up and soften up as I finish. I do go through sticks, and I have my favorite go-to colors, so I have bought more of those open stock over the years, so I do use up pastels and need to replace them as needed. And YES, I do use all the pastels in the collection. I go back and forth, using more Unisons, Terry Ludwigs, and lately a lot of Rembrandts when it suits a certain subject. I recently did two landscapes and used nothing but Rembrandts on both. I do a lot of painting, even though I work full time. I tend to spend Sunday afternoons at my easel, and then some evenings during the week when I get the chance. I had a few days off last week for the holidays and I did seven paintings during that time, and framed them all. It was marvelous! My plan is to do a lot of painting when I retire, so I'm gearing up for that, even though it's still a few years away. So my collection grows a bit and gets refined along the way, and it is sure fun!

12-30-2019, 10:15 PM
I've seen some of your beautiful work Richard so I can totally understand you wanting to stay in the studio with all your pastels!

I have a real passion for national parks - my spiritual well-being seems to be dependent on that time spent outside. I have to admit, I get a kick out of some of the people that stop to visit too. Last time I was at Sunrise I talked with a group of 8 20-somethings who decided to fly out from New York (!) for a 4 day weekend (oh, to be young and that carefree). They thought I was "interesting" and videoed me for their vlog and asked all kinds of amusing questions and were SO upbeat. And I had a LONG conversation about climate change and the glory of American national parks with a couple from Sweden who travel to the US every other year just to spend time touring in the parks. Then...the couple from Alabama in their rented motorhome who were less concerned with the scenery than whether I knew where they could empty their septic tank (I didn't, but thoughts of Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation came to mind). And all that time, there was a massive thunderstorm off to the South booming away and slowly edging closer. It was my favorite day of the whole Summer when all was said and done!

My BA was in anthropology - maybe I am an anthropologist who uses art to meet people from around the world? :lol:

My pastels stay fairly clean because I am probably annoyingly OCD about that and wipe them off usually if they get noticeably dirty. Pastels as a medium kind of go against my "don't get my hands dirty" natural inclinations! I'm a weirdo and I DO go through a lot of handiwipes when working plein air.

12-31-2019, 09:43 AM
I believe that is exactly what kind of unit I have here!... I can't imagine having 30 of them! !

Richard -- I had 128 of them!!

BUT that is the ugly past --

HERE are my glorious, wonderful, spectacular Sennelier Soft pastels!!

Richard Barrere
12-31-2019, 12:56 PM
Wow, look at those! Beautiful. That is the same set I got when I started, so watch out, you will want more and more, and it never ends. You have crossed over, my friend!

I can't believe there were 128 of those drawers on castors in the same place. Must have been a large facility! Sorry, I won't keep bringing up the ugly past...

01-03-2020, 04:19 PM
Richard -- you may be right -- I masy hasve rossed over -- BUT I still love my Pablos and my Polychromos color pencils and my Derwent Graphites -- my guess is something will turn up with all three -- CP, G, and PASTELS.
Here's my improvement to my 80 count set of Senneliers:

Getting the inside cover done took about 6-8 hours -- got the color image from Sennelier; it was small and all together without room for any text.I had to match up numbers with actual color names -- fried my brain it did.

Richard Barrere
01-03-2020, 05:32 PM
Wow, beautiful! I wish Sennelier would do something like that themselves. How hard would it be to print some colors on the inside of the lid? A lot easier than you doing it by hand, I reckon.

01-04-2020, 05:54 AM
Tracy, I enjoyed your park story very much -- and I understand your OCD approach to art materials -- I am that way with my 18 half pan set of Sennelier watercolors -- I never put the tin away messy.

And, Tracy, I watched a video of the Sennelier Artistic Director using pastels on the seaside and he used a cloth (I think it was what they call microfiber) -- it cleaned his fingers pretty good. I happened to have one and tried it -- did a really good job -- could quickly get many swipes over different colors with the same finger after digging the finger into the cloth a couple of times.

I had bought a pkg of 3 in a dollar store for a dollar to wipe my WC brushes on --


01-04-2020, 12:53 PM
Clair, your Senneliers are beautiful! I was going to get a set of them when I started, but I made the trip to Dakota and fell in love with a (sale priced) half stick set of Great Americans. I like to make my own little charts too for my Mount Visions. I know that Terry Ludwig and GA both include little color charts - sure seems like that would be nice for all the manufacturers to do, especially for the larger sets!

I'll have to try that with the towels. I've been using Glove in a Bottle and find that if I have a very generous coating of that on first, I can wipe my fingers pretty clean easily when working. And - hahahahaha - you made me laugh about the watercolor palette - I'm the same way! I don't know why it didn't really hit me before that it's not just the pastels I'm persnickety about. On the wc front the saying is that you're a tonalist if you never clean your palette and a colorist if you (almost) always do. I guess we know where we stand, right? ;-)

It's a rainy morning here and I'm making a spur of the moment choice to head North - quick stop at Dakota (because it would be unthinkable to drive through Mount Vernon without stopping!) and then up along the Skagit River to check out the bald eagle migration (camera ready to go). They'll all already be fed and just sitting around in the trees going this late but oh well.

01-05-2020, 05:38 PM
QUOTE [ On the wc front the saying is that you're a tonalist if you never clean your palette and a colorist if you (almost) always do.]

Thanks for that Tra y -- never heard that one before !~
I'm Def. a colorist. Two of my small recent works are titled Venetian Red and Venetian Red II

And, please -- What is Dakota??

01-05-2020, 11:46 PM
Ooo, Claire! Dakota Art Pastels - https://www.dakotapastels.com/. They are a dedicated pastel supplies (supports, pastels, tools, boxes, etc.) company based in Mount Vernon, Washington. Their warehouse location is about 2 hours North of me and they also teach a ton of workshops there. The warehouse is open to the public (only 9-1 on Saturdays so I have to get my lazy behind out of bed and hit the road to have plenty of browsing time lol).

When you walk in the door, there are general art supplies sold in a small retail area and I looked around that first time and thought "I drove 2 hours for THIS?!" Then the gal came out to help me, I said uh, I came to look at pastels, and she said oh, you want to come back HERE. "Here" was the whole warehouse where they do fulfillment and they are happy to let people shop right from the warehouse shelves, look at all the pastel colors, etc. They have a big samples table where you can test every brand they carry and they also have a "broken" table of things that are heavily discounted.

Dakota is not always the cheapest, but I watch for sales and because I'm lucky enough to be fairly close, I like to go to the warehouse (ALWAYS dangerous to the budget!!!). The people that work there are super helpful and very knowledgeable - I think every one of them works in pastels as well.

I think a lot of people come from around the world there for some of the workshops. It's about 90 minutes North of Seattle (that would be 1.5 - ?! hours depending on time of day and traffic ;-)

Since Richard started this for storage, I should mention that I did look at the new Neef storage boxes that Dakota has on their site. They're nice, but....there's no easy way to remove the layers (2 layers for the box storing 60 and 3 layers for the box storing 90). they need tabs of some sort on the ends to easily lift the layers out. The gal working on Saturday agreed and we were checking out the box and talking about it. For the cost of those, I will stick with my cheapie Sterilite boxes from walmart with cushion foam for now. Kind of hoping Neef will make a few mods. I can think of things to do to Magyver-fix the box, but for the price, I'm not quite up to it.

Oh, and I also found out recently on a trip there why the Terry Ludwigs are not sold open stock any more - the TL company doesn't want to have to put labels on each pastel, and they don't want wrong pastels to get shipped out for individual orders. I guess I can understand that, especially for the darks because I can't tell the difference visually among many (most!) of my intense darks.

01-06-2020, 09:20 AM
Hello, All.... I have been looking around for a storage idea for my pastel stock ever since I first came upon this thread. I saw someone on youtube demo how she used some small stackable PRYM boxes and thought it a good idea. I was unable to locate that brand, but I found the Sterlite stackables and, at Michaels, the Snapware. The Snapware was recently on sale, so I purchased three sets of four plastic boxes. Each clear box measures about 6.5" x 9" and they can be stacked with snaps on each end. Now to find some foam to line the bottoms.... and set a day to just clean and sort my pastels.... This will be for my at-home stock. Hopefully, I can learn to select the group of colors I want to use when beginning a painting and then return them all to storage when I have finished. I do plan to keep extra pieces in a Jackson Arts box that I got for plein air... so I will have a set to work with on the go. I would love to have a metal chest like the one Richard has for all his various colors, but I simply have no room for something that large. Perhaps when I win the lottery I will be able to build me a studio, complete with LOTS of storage. Oh, but first I have to buy a ticket! :)

I am so enjoying this thread! Best to all!

Richard Barrere
01-06-2020, 02:46 PM
Sounds like those Snapware boxes are a good way to go. You can get some thin foam at office supply stores that they use for shipping. It comes in sheets or rolls, and is ideal for lining your boxes. I have a thing about keeping my pastels away from most plastics though, just for static electricity. You may find those plastic boxes will attract a lot of dust, but maybe not. I prefer to store them in wood, but that's just me. There is something about the classical appeal to me, it always reminds me of happy days at art school as well as the old masters. I found some inexpensive very thin carpet at the hardware box store, and use that to line my shelves. I know the drawers are made from metal, but if you look close the edges and the bottoms are all wood. I cut small pieces of foam core board and used a hot glue gun to put them in there to separate the colors. It just seems to be ideal for my use, even though I take up half the spare bedroom for my studio in our house right now. It's a little cramped, but all I really need is my easel and my storage shelves. I put it on castors so I could roll it out of the way when not in use. Thanks for sharing all the comments everyone! Sure would like to see a few more pictures....

01-06-2020, 07:15 PM
Mike, I think you have the same sterilite containers that I use! I got those and the cushion foam at Walmart. My foam is a basic polyurethan foam and I think it's 3/4 or else 1" seat cushion foam. A set of 4 cushions (in the craft area at Walmart) was about $10 and I cut them - I was able to line 3 boxes with each cushion.

Dakota has replacement memory foam if you want to go that route, but it gets more expensive (https://www.dakotapastels.com/products/Replacement-Box-Foam) I tried to find quarter or half inch sheets of memory foam online but didn't have much luck there. I figured my storage boxes weren't going to get moved around much so I can live with the lower quality foam in them.

Richard, I like the foam core and hot glue idea! And interesting about the possible static thing. My biggest concern with my art supplies is keeping the cat hair away (as much as possible). I'll never be 100% successful - last night Willow curled up on a corner of the kitchen table to watch me pastel paint (she is a kind critic lol).

01-11-2020, 10:08 AM
Hello all
I'm finally getting around to posting my pastel photos. They have been moved around a little since the photos were taken but nothing new added for a while. I am unable to resize photos until I convince the new pc that it would really like a copy of photoshop....

Below photo. I have a couple more of these half sized jewelry display trays to continue the with the greens. I have them in a drawer of my flat file. (Check out old post with the discussion on these).

I bought the girault box on eBay a little over a year ago, I reorganized it since, it is very close to a complete set. Funny, the colors that were low or missing are ones I had bought years before. The wood box is way to bulky and heavy for travel.

Some of my unisons.




Richard Barrere
01-11-2020, 11:42 AM
BEAUTIFUL! So neat and well organized, much better than mine. You are an inspiration! What kind of cabinet is this? Looks similar to the one I have. Thanks for sharing!

01-11-2020, 09:48 PM
Sharen, those complete sets are mind-bogglingly delicious!

01-12-2020, 09:27 AM
A feast for the eyes, Sharen! Please DO tell us what kind of cabinet that is. The drawers appear to be less wide than the cabinet Richard uses, and that would make a huge difference for me. So well organized, too. This has been such an interesting thread... and makes me so envious of the huge collections of pastels so many have.
Mike :)

01-16-2020, 07:53 AM
The cabinet is a 34"x42", 12 drawer flat file. It's big. I got it from my last job at a printer when they finally went all digital. I wish it was in 2 sections, as is, we had to do the door trim AFTER we put the cabinet in my studio. Too big and yet still completely full of paper and old artwork.

I have seen several small vintage flat drawered tool chests on eBay, Craig's list etc, that I think would work great for storage.

Not quite a full set of unison. But I do have several discontinued sets like the special colors, Orange, johns summer set. They quit a few of my favorite colors. Even after several years of having them I still haven't been able to break them and add to the rest of my stock. I bought most of these on sale from Jackson's , when the pound was low, with a rebate (years ago). They ended up being 1.70$ a stick. I couldn't do that now.

The girault set had some of the numbers worn off so I can't tell which colors are missing from a full set. I'm not a big fan of their color range (I like mount vision and unison much better). it showed up on eBay shortly after a 'if i hit the lottery' discussion. I don't do portraits which I this set is geared toward, but I did want more flesh tones in a small stick format for the few figures I add to landscapes.

01-17-2020, 11:08 AM
Thanks for sharing the info, Sharen. A flat file seems like the ideal solution.... or a tool chest with multiple drawers.... but they all seem to be so huge. I, too, watch for deals on Ebay and Craigslist, but the flat files I have found are usually too far away and they are "local pickup only." But I'm in no rush.... and perhaps one day I will "win the lottery" and luck up on just the perfect solution. Happy painting!

01-18-2020, 10:02 PM
Always fun to see how others do things. :)

I finally got around to taking a few photos of my setup.

I paint primarily on my handmade wall easel. It works for basically anything up to 3 ft x 3ft, oil painting, pastel, whatever.

I made some pastel trays out of scrap lumber which holds a full set of Mount Vision, both Ludwig darks sets, and Ludwig portrait set. These trays are stack-able, so it is easy to make room on my counter for other tasks. My other pastels I keep separated so I know where to find them and keep track of things easier. I have a couple other sets not show that I use for plein air.

The important thing for me is I have most everything within a short reach...easy to get to....




01-19-2020, 11:05 AM
Richard -- you may be right -- I masy hasve rossed over -- BUT I still love my Pablos and my Polychromos color pencils and my Derwent Graphites -- my guess is something will turn up with all three -- CP, G, and PASTELS.
Here's my improvement to my 80 count set of Senneliers:

Getting the inside cover done took about 6-8 hours -- got the color image from Sennelier; it was small and all together without room for any text.I had to match up numbers with actual color names -- fried my brain it did.
That inside cover diagram you said you got from Sennelier would be greatly useful to me. My Plein Air set didn't come with any such chart or even a list on the box, so if one of my pastels bites the dust (pun intended), I have no real way of knowing what number to replace it with. Oddly, when I got a set of full size Sennelier Darks it came with a full Sennelier chart. Where did you find that chart? I can't seem to locate one for my Plein Air set. Thanks.

Richard Barrere
01-23-2020, 03:32 PM
I always recoil a little when I see Terry Ludwigs mixed in with the other pastels. I don't know why, it's just a personal thing. I have always pretty much thrown all different pastels together into my collection, being mostly concerned about finding the right color instead of the particular brand, but the TL's are different. They need to be separated from the rest, just because they are so different, I guess. I will work away on a painting and I know that for the last few stages I will open the TL drawer and find what I need. I have most of the colors memorized by now, I think, so I know right when and where I'm going to find it when I need it. Weird how differently we all work and how we organize and store our supplies! Show me some more photos....