View Full Version : Schminke or Sennelier?

12-09-2003, 12:03 PM
Hello everybody
I am greatly pushing my two families ( mine and my boyfriend's) to give me a common gift for Christmas. What I wish for is a full set of Schmincke , because I tried them ( I have the 30pastel set) and I absolutelly love them. On the website http://www.dakotapastels.com/index_softpastels.shtml
they offer the full set (299 colors) for $699 AmericanDollars. However Sennelier has a sale ( on the same website) for$895 for the whole set, 525colors!!!!! You imagine, getting basically all these colors, must be a heaven!
I have never tried Sennelier, as they are not available in Toronto, where I live.
Which one of these amazing sets would be a better deal? Per stick, obviously Sennelier is a better deal, but I read some contradictory opinions about the quality and handling of this brand. Beside, is it useful to have 500 colors?
They also have a sale forBlockx, with the whole range of 204 colors for $325; these, I have also never tried. Are they good, anybody knows? I might have to suggest this set, if the money they put together is not enough for the other ...
Please give me your opinions on these, and advise which whould I ask for, I don't want to put my families through so much expense and then not to like what I'm getting
Thank you

12-09-2003, 12:44 PM
Of course you will receive as many answers as people here

They are both wonderful pastels

I hope you have a WONDERFUL;) Christmas

Check around for prices....sometimes, EBAY has the whole set also.....great buyys and here in the SWAP SHOP, we have had them for sale


12-09-2003, 01:10 PM
Thank you, Pampe, for fast replying . I wish you a Merry Christmas as well!!!!
No, the EBay is not an option, I never shopped there but I tried and lost many times, people there are maniacs; they would fight in an auction until price goes way over the Buyitnow price, it happened to me last week, for a set of Yarka, buy it now was $79.99 and auction ended at $96; they are fools or shoppachoolics; I kept trying to win pastels there and either couldn't be there at the end, either the price went so hight that together with shipping charges was not worth any more to buy it. It's just the feeling that you get a bargain, but it's not really, in the end....
I checked the Swap Shop and there's nothing there for me :(
If anybody knows of better pricing than what I've found, please let me know
The greedy inside me wants the Sennelier set, because there are SOOOO MANY colors....

12-09-2003, 01:22 PM
Hi, I have no first hand experience, but I do buy my husbands. He uses soft pastel on velour paper and that is the only paper he has experience on! I just bought him some Sennelier and they are very soft. Too soft (for him) to get detail and they fill the paper. He primarily uses Girault, and I just bought him small sets of Mount Vision, Rowney and Unison, which he likes. If you look on the Dakota website on the main page for Soft Pastels, they have them listed by softness...and Schmincke's are rated #1 (softest) with Sennelier being #3, so they might be perfect for you! Lesa

12-09-2003, 01:58 PM
Schmincke are uniformly excellent in quality, they are thick chunky sticks, and they rarely break unless you drop them.

Sennelier are good quality, BUT often, when you take the wrappers off, they crumble, which is hugely frustrating. I have rarely, if ever, had this with a Schminke pastel, and I use them all the time.

I wonder if these sets ARE really good value, because you will inevitably end up with loads of colours you do not use. Check this out. It may be better to order the colours you want, leave out the colour you may not use (depends what you intend to paint), and buy a large quantity of really useful colours.


Deborah Secor
12-09-2003, 02:28 PM
Adi, for my money I would take Schmincke over Sennelier any day. However, part of the reason is that in my dry part of the world they crumble to dust when unwrapped, as Jackie mentioned, and I need to use more than just the point of them. A Sennelier stick is probably half the size of a Schmincke--the Schminckes are fat and thick, the Senneliers little and thinnner. So you may not be getting as much as you think in the long run. I spoke once to Bob Rohm and he told me he only uses the half sticks of Sennelier because they don't crumble. They said there's no difference but he reallly thinks there has to be!

Hope this helps... As Pam said, you'll probably get as many different opinions as there are answers!


12-09-2003, 09:04 PM

This is the website for Mount Vision pastels. http://www.handmadepastels.com/

They are wonderful. Like butter, not too soft, not too hard. Right in the middle of Dakota Pastels ranking. I've tried Schminke and Sennelier. In order of preference I'd go Mount Vision, Schminke and then Sennelier. I can't remember what the Holbeins were like. I used those in 1989 and liked them. They were the only pastels I could find in a little store in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The neat thing about Mount Vision is that you could contact them and order one of their sampler sets of 4 nice sized handmade pastels in 9 different colors: Chromium Greens, Dark Blues, Earth Oranges, Pinks, Purples, Reds, Sky Blues, Flesh Tones, and Yellows.

They have 2 sets on sale at their website... a nice looking $50 piece Workshop set for $120 and a 25 piece complimentary Workshop set for $60.

I don't know if it is me, but some of the Sennelier pastels seemed really hard, didn't lay down color as smoothly as other colors in the set of 80 half sticks that I ordered recently. I haven't found that with any of the 75 or 100 sticks of Mount Vision that I have. Who knows tho...

Tap ;~D

Mikki Petersen
12-09-2003, 09:26 PM
Maybe it's the humidity in California, but I've had huge problems with the Schminkes crumbling...although the are a yummy consistency when they hold together. The Senneliers don't crumble for me but are smaller than most sticks and are not of consistent softness as mentioned ^^above. I have a few Holbiens which seem quite nice, but my hands down favorite are the Great American Artworks. They are generously sized, buttery soft, completely consistent from color to color and slightly less pricy than Senneliers, Schminkes or Holbiens. I recently purchased some Townsend handmade pastels open stock and was less than pleased with them. while the colors are gorgeous, they are quite firm and scratchy.

Before you buy at Dakota, check out www.aswexpress.com . I window shop at Dakota because their displays are so fine, but then I go over to ASW (ARt Supply Warehouse) and if they have it, they have it cheaper than anyone else. I buy all my art supplies almost exclusively from there.

Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with Jackie about buying the full set of any one brand. You will be purchasing some colors you will probably never use, others you don't like. Better to by a good starter set of 48 or so in one brand and then switch to open stock and collect the colors you really want and need. I have over 300 pastels now in various brands. I bought a variety of sets from different brands and that was nice for learning but now I only buy open stock as I find a need for a new color.

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

Deborah Secor
12-09-2003, 09:31 PM
Oh! I have to put my hands down with Mikki and vote for the Great Americans, too! I have the entire set... wonderful colors, sort of habit forming. I can't get along without some of them now. I also favor the price. Guess it's cause they're American made... but maybe not.


learning to paint
12-09-2003, 11:40 PM

I went through the same struggle.

Some thoughts:

1. Both Sennelier and Schmincke are very soft pastels. Both offer wonderful colors, and if you buy the newer Sennelier (the line was revised a year or two ago), you will find a bit less crumbling.

2. Schmincke is probably better as a finishing set than as a full-scale drawing or painting set. Their extreme softness makes them difficult to use for early or middle stages of a painting.

3. You might instead consider Unisons, which are a bit more costly but serve a wider range of purposes during the painting process. From my experience, you will get fewer sticks for your full-set investment, but you will use more of them, so at the end of the day, the cost of the Unison set may be justified. I have pastels from all of these manufacturers, but if I was buying a large set today, it would be undoubtedly be Unisons.

4. Mount Vision pastels are American made, and similar (slightly harder) than Unisons. They are priced relatively low, and they are a quality product.

5. Many people also like Pastel Girault. These are thinner sticks, slightly harder, and quite brittle. You should try them.

You're in Toronto? Drive down to Rochester NY and visit Rochester Art Supply (www.fineartstore.com). They have one of the widest selections of pastels in the USA, all on display and easy to try and buy.

Hope I didn't confuse you too much.

Happy holidays. And enjoy the pastel set, whatever you buy.

12-10-2003, 01:24 AM
I hate my swiss cheese brain... I forgot to mention a version of what everyone is sort of saying... about buying a starter set and then getting the open pastels... If you do more landscapes, or portraits, or even NW landscapes vs. SW landscapes, you can buy sets to suit specific areas or subject matter. If you do mostly florals, you can find a set meant for florals... that might be the way to go.

I've got DakotaPastels, Daniel Smith, ASWExpress.com and FineArtSupply all book marked so I can shop and compare prices. Not to push or argue for or against any one place. But you can find sales at all the sites. I also weigh the S&H costs, time it will take to get to me and what the service is like at each place. I've always liked the customer service at Dakota. ASW, I had the misfortune of getting the grumpy sales clerk that day... ASW adds S&H by how much you spend. Dakota has one set rate of $8.50 for shipping, no matter the order. So if you are spending $5, that shipping is pricey. Daniel Smith has free shipping if you are spending over $200. I'm in Montana and it is faster to order from Dakota or Daniel Smith for me since they are closer than ASW.

I love the idea of being able to see the colors, touch, try them, before buying... One of these times when I get to Missoula I'm going to buy the beginner set of Unison pastels at the U of M bookstore. That's another suggestion. Universities with bookstores and art supplies for studies very often have fantastic sales on some of the best art supplies. I got 2 extra large pads of Newsprint and a large drawing board for $10.70. The small drawing board, alone, at a craft and art supply store was $10.70.

Happy shopping and happy painting!
Tap ;~D

12-10-2003, 03:36 AM
500 pastels????!!!! OMG.......I would really consider that a waste of money, to tell you the truth. I 've got quite a few pastels (Rembrandt and Schminkce - never tried Sennelier yet) and already find I don't use many, simply because I don't want to dig them up when painting (unless you have a table as big as your room to spread them all out, but then you can never reach them all) and also, I tend to use similar colours (because I like them, or because of the similarity in subject matter).
Really, try to get a cheaper smaller set (sets are fun to receive as a present! :D) and play around with that. I once received a portraiture Rembrandt set and love the skin colours in it, but rarely use the bright greens and pinks. I have around a 100 pastels and am already swamped. Don't wanna think about having 500!

12-10-2003, 09:33 AM
Oh, my God, you guys are all correct, of course!!!! I have to go check all these website links, and maybe by then I be able to make up my mind.
The truth is that I focused on Schiminke because it's one brand available in Canada, here we have only Schminke, Unison, Rembrandt, Nupastel and Mungyo ( these all togetheri n the best stores only) I am thinking that once I get a set, if I run out of some colors, I wouldn't be able to get them here, which is inconvenient
Sure, the Unisons are a dream, indeed very versatile, work well any time, I have a few of them ( 18 Starter and 18 Portrait) and I adore them, but they are sooo expenisive!!!
Buying by piece in any set turns way more expensive than buying the whole set at once. Beside, somehow since I got more colors, I got more inspired too.
The table space is not an issue, since I do not have a table. I have a good easel that can take a lot of abuse so I fixed it on the lower side and I am sitting of a big pillow right down on the floor, whoa more space than I could ever fill, around me.
I'm an addicted beginner, I felt like "EVRIKA!!!" when I discovered pastels ( about a month ago, thank you all here at WC)
Thing about color is, I am totally unfocused as to what I am painting, so far Dog , cat, person portraits, landscapes, one little still life..., don't know what else is coming. I paint whatever I feel like, because I think it's good to learn how to do a little of everything. I just love to see a paper giving birth to an image....
Sure a full set of anything seems like a waste, but I believe that sooner or later I could make use of everything. Pastels are good for years before they go bad, aren't they?
1mpete and Dee, I am too so much attracted to the Great American set, it's probably one of the most impressive I've seen on Internet!
Tap, Mount Vision seem a great deal too, to tell the truth I was firstly attracted to them when I saw they are fat and chunky, they would last a while for sure. However, the set seems to be lacking in the warm color range, or is it just my idea?
I have to finish now, my mom is here, can't continue, will be back,
and thank you all!!!!

12-10-2003, 10:10 AM
Adiro, one last thing........I've figured from your posts that you already have an 18 starter set of Unisons, an 18 portrait Unison set and a 30 Schmincke set.........I do really believe that you can almost painting anything you want with that. Do you really need so many more pastels? You have more than most! Go paint!

12-10-2003, 11:49 AM
Soap, you are amazing to be painting what you are with just like a hundred sticks!!!!! ( I checked your website and followed some time ago the Thinking of Summer painting , Hope I'm not wrong but I believe it was yours), but YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING! while I'm not. ..That makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!
I posted a question of what to buy for starting about a month ago and here I am so far. But now, for example, I'm fighting with a winter landscape, and great would it have been to have more light blues and purple blues and grey whites and so on.... there is a possibility that I'm not handling the colors well, or maybe I'm just aiming at things too complicated for my beginning level. Soon I will be able to take some pics, if I get a camera. So that you (generally speaking) understand I'm not a psycho for pastels, but I really need them
(Ok, I admit I am a little psycho :) and now what?

12-10-2003, 11:56 AM
I forgot to tell you that I want a big box of pastels because if I don't ask for something specific I'm getting again pijamas and slippers and sweaters for Christmas, and I've had enough Christmasses like that , and on the other hand I can't send my family buy me individual sticks and gift certificates are out of the question in my house....
So in spite of good advise, I'm still wishing for a full set of some good pastels....

12-10-2003, 11:56 AM
I have just one word for you....


Oh and I guess I have a second word too....


Enjoy them very very much,


12-10-2003, 11:57 AM
LOL! HI psycho!! Do get them if you want. I just wanted to let you know that if you're struggling with the high cost of it all, there are other ways!! You need light blues? I am sure you have whites and blues, so mix them up! Purple-ish blue? You must have blue and red and white, mix them up!


or just buy the right colour ....lol.....:D :D

12-10-2003, 11:59 AM
oh we posted at the same time! Ooooohhhhhh........well in that case (the jumpers and socks and so)........go get them! :D :D....jealousy rules here as well......;)

Marc Sabatella
12-10-2003, 02:54 PM
My two cents:

Bottom line, Schmincke in a heartbeat. Sennelier wouldn't even be in the top three choices for me - next choices would be either Great American (very similar to Schmincke in many respects, but color scheme is a little quirky) or Unison (really nice, only downside is price, but that same $700 you'd spend on a full set of Schmicke's would get you more than you'd ever need).

I agree with those who say Sennelier crumbles almost immediately on unwrapping (and this could be a reason why the half sticks are said to perform better - no wrapper to unwrap and cause trauma to the sticks?). Schmincke is much, MUCH better in this respect, and this has been the experience of virtually everyone I've ever spoken with. I really wonder how Sennelier ever developed the reputation they did.

As for the comment about Schmincke being too soft to use throughout a painting, that's a matter of style. If you tend to work very realistically and are considered with fine detail, you should indeed be looking at something harder. For more impressionistic work, though, I don't have any problems using Schmincke throughout the two hours or so that go into a given painting, even on relatively untoothy surfaces like the smooth side of Canson paper.

I also agree with those who question the need for a whole set. It is true that inexperienced painters often struggle with smaller sets whereas more experienced painters are often able to actually accomplish something useful with them. However, my impression is that the way you get good at using a more limited palette is by *using* a more limited palette, not by having 300-500 colors available. The latter leads more to always trying to find the perfect color rather than trying to figure out how to make the colors you have work.

That said, most beginner sets have very poor color choices, and in exactly the way you are seeing - not enough really light lights (or really dark darks). Open stock often ends up, despite the higher cost per stick, a cheaper way of getting a good set, because you aren't playing for colors you don't need. $300 worth of well-chosen Schmincke's will probably be more useful than a $300 set, even though the latter has more sticks. And forget about the notion that a 525-stick set is going to be better than a 300-stick set - either is way more than you need. Might as well wonder whether you should order the 48-oz steak or the 64-oz one (assuming you can't take the uneaten portion home).

Given that asking someone to put together a 100-stick set from open stock for you is a bit much, even if you pre-select the colors, another option would be a large set of half-sticks. In theory, you get twice as many colors for your money as a whole stick set, such that a $200 half-stick set would almost certainly get you a better selection than a $300 full-stick set. Unfortunately, it seems most manufacturers don't offer large half-stick sets, but only uselessly small starter sets.

Of course, if you've got someone willing to spend $700 on a full set of Schmincke's for you, I guess I can't see any big reason to talk him down... mostly, my advice here is for someone trying to work within some sort of budget.

12-10-2003, 03:28 PM
i don't know if it is possible in your country , but in France , you could do as following :
go to a store , pay an amount and offer to the person this 'gift'. he/she choose what he/she wants in the store later.
it can be a solution and you can try/choose your color brands , pastels , paper ...

on another way, i prefer sennelier to schmincke because schmincke grumbles more than sennelier , i dont know why ? weather ? temperature or humidity ....

i started with rembrandt and on my point of view , they are a good starter .


Bubba's Mama
12-10-2003, 04:48 PM
Adi - I am a relative beginner at pastels, but I bit the bullet and bought the full set of Unisons, after spending several weeks reading everyone's reviews and comments.

AND I LOVE THEM. In case of a fire here, the cats go out the door first, my pictures second, and my unisons, 3rd!!

And I also love the few Townsends I have. She makes two tpes of pastels - the soft pastels shaped similarly to the Unisons, and her Tourrages sets, which are about 1.5"x1.5"x.25". Totally different, and intended to be much harder than her soft pastels.

And I got several carry boxes from Dakota ARt so I am good to travel!! 3 boxes, and all my Unisons, Townsends and Terry ludwigs and I go bopping down the road.

HTH or at least amuses y'all.


12-10-2003, 06:14 PM
You may want to look HERE (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=152192)

12-10-2003, 08:15 PM
Regarding Unison pastels. There is a guy on ebay that I met who sells them for $2.49 U.S. apiece, which is a very good price. He can be reached at [email protected] I just bought about 35 Unisons from him and they are affordable at that price, better than the $4.69 and up they usually are. They came in perfect condition. He had every color I requested.


12-10-2003, 08:27 PM
I've gotten a numbers of great pastel buys from the same person, Shari!

Perhaps you can have your family give you a gift certificate to one of the art stores. As much as I love Dakota, the prices are probably better at ASW. But if it is a gift then hey!
But if you got a gift certificate then you could pick a few smaller sets of different pastels.
Anyhow, if I had to choose between Sennelier or Schminckes, Schminkes wins hands down, for the same reasons as everyone else. I do have some Senneliers I like but I owuldn't buy a large set.
I happen to love Girault. But then in all honesty, I don't know that I have met a pastel I didn't like! :D Well, a few, but I like all of the better brands. They each have their uses and if you do a lot of pastel painting you will find a use for the different hardness or softness of each.
So...I bet we have confused you more!
I think whatever you get you will have fun and learn from.
You can let us all know how it goes!


12-10-2003, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Adiro
Tap, Mount Vision seem a great deal too, to tell the truth I was firstly attracted to them when I saw they are fat and chunky, they would last a while for sure. However, the set seems to be lacking in the warm color range, or is it just my idea?


It all depends on what you want in the Mount Vision set. They have the warms, but maybe not in the set. They have sets of reds, and open stock also...

Something else to think about for ordering... DakotaPastels right now has a special going... 12 sticks of 1 color, but all the brands they sell. Twelve pastels are included in each sampler, one each from Schmincke, Great American, Sennelier, Unison, Diane Townsend Soft, Mount Vision, Girault, Rowney, Blockx, Art Spectrum, Rembrandt and Caran D'Ache.

You make the choice between Darks, Greens, Brights, Greys, and Browns. I'm thinking of getting one of these to be able to try all these brands. I have Some Schminke, Sennelier, Mount Vision and Rowney. I don't know where my Rembrandts are, but I'd love to try the others... to get a feel for them at a relatively inexpensive price.

Tap ;~D

12-11-2003, 01:21 AM
Thank You, Everybody!!!!
Soap, you're funny and right, at last I figured that layering incompletely would give me an illusion of a new color.
Barb, Sure you're of great help, reinforcing my own desires :)
Christel, yes, we do have that in Canada, those are the Gift Certificates that don't really have a place in my mom's way of thinking
Bubba, I'm so happy you wrote, you are the first one that thinks like me :) Uh, one day, if I prove myself worthy, maybe I get a full set of Unisons, until then, I'm just glad for you ( and wishing to be in your skin for an hour, so that I can fool a little with your colors :)
Pampe, thank you so much, I might use your option if nothing else works, but I'm so superstitios about getting something that didn't do any good to somebody else, if I get to dislike pastels too, after I buy those? Ok, it's not really that, it's that I don't want to buy a lot of small sets, because I would have redundant colors, I already have 2 in common between the two Unisons, and at least three are so very similar with some from my 30 Schminke!
Shari, thank you, I never used Ebay and I don't have paypal yet, but for sure I'll write to that guy. Is it ok if I mention your name? ( that you recomended him)
Sandy yes, you did accomplish your purpose, I am confused (Again!!!!)
Tap, thank you, so you say the Mount Vision does have enough warms..... As I watched the colors on my monitor, I could already figure out a few that I don't see myself using, but hei, you never know....
and finally
Marc, your opinion is way more than a two cents to me, I was so impressed a month ago, when you first answered me about what to buy. You are so knowledgeable, oh, my God, you sound like a teacher. I remember you calculating for me that I need 89 sticks no more no less, and I'm all set. I visited your website many times and I love your work, but I'm nowhere near your style... your painting is impetuous, instinctive, me , no , I'm going with the instinct and an hour later I'm brushing off and going with another "instinct" wishing for something else instead ( of course a color that I don't have) I know you're so right, maybe I'll go a middle way and contact that Ebay guy, and get just what I think I need, if I pile up a list of colors and it's not too big, I might end up with a nice collection of Unisons for Christmas
Thank you all again

11-28-2005, 01:39 AM
Hi I'm new to this forum, but I think it is wonderful!

I'm a pastel artist and would like to put my 2 cents in on the Schminke or Sennelier. I have used both and used unison. I start my painting with a harder pastel then work to the nice darks that sennelier offer then onto schminke on the top. I'm silly sometimes but I have just pieced my collection of pastels instead of buying an expensive set. I've even got together with an artist and we
made our own pastels. MESSY but what a blast and color you can find anywhere. My first set would be something med-soft and sennelier 1/2 set are by far GREAT. I live close to Dakota Arts (7 miles) and I wait for my buddies to put them on sale and purchase. I would love to be able to go out and buy a full set of schminke but I would love my art to pay for it.

The NEXT area that is hard to figure out is PAPER. Everyone likes something different and you just need to try them ALL. I myself like Wallis.

Jude Galbraith

11-29-2005, 10:47 AM
The first 'good' pastel I was told I must have were Sennelier's (by the salesman)- later I tried Schmicke, which I was told was 'exactly the same' by the same salesman, but I found Schmicke FAR FAR nicer, the Sennelier's have more colors, true, but crumble pretty badly....I am told (by a different salesman) that they are all going to be reformulated...it is a spectacular set, but if I had to choose one or the other would go with Schmicke every time.... but that is if I had to choose between THOSE 2- would take a set of mount visions first, great americans 2nd over both of those- and yes, you have the pastel buying bug badly- I know, I have suffered from it worse than probably anyone - got really carried away and have the credit card bills I will be paying the rest of my life to prove it- I would have done better art if I had stopped buying months ago and PAINTED with what I had.....you really DON"T want to repeat my mistakes...trust me... how about for a gift the sample sets from Dakota? where you get one from about 9 different makers in one color range- get all the colors and it is like several mini sets?

11-29-2005, 02:16 PM
Sennelier was reformulated about 2 - 3 years ago. Unfortunately, there are still many sets of the original formula on the market that aren't being marketed as "old" sets, and they are being sold to people who aren't aware. The new Sennelier sticks are fatter than the old ones, and so far I've not had a problem with any of them crumbling. I also have some of the new large (jumbo) sticks that are great for large paintings.

Rembrandt was my first set, followed by Unison (which I had before they were even available in this country. I ordered directly from Scotland, and after helping the creator of those pastels with a question regarding marketing in this country, he sent me his entire set. What a wonderfully generous surprise that was the day I opened this large box that had arrived from Scotland!) I've been very fortunate over the years to have had several of the distributors give me sets of their product. Now all I do is replace favorite colors. I have favorite colors in many different brands, and would say anyone new to pastel will need to experiment with the various sticks to know if they prefer the harder or softer pastels or a combination thereof. I personally tend to prefer the softer varieties: start with Unison, Sennelier or Mt Vision as my "hard" pastels, then Ludwig, then Great American as softer, and I have several lightest colors in Schemncke as the sofest. I also prefer to work on sanded surfaces that can take all that layering. If I'm working on something like Canson, I'll start with the Rembrandt or Girault.


11-29-2005, 03:23 PM
My sennelier set was very faded on top for many colors- I bought it from Jerry's- and wondered if it had sat in a lighted display case for a long time before I bought it- probably so! I noticed the 'half sticks' seem like a different product altogether! Thanks for the info! How wonderful to get a free set of Unisons- I used to go to Scotland a bunch- Glassgow, Aberdeen, and went for fun around Lock Ness.... I thought the unisons were made in the English part of the UK- no?

11-29-2005, 04:01 PM
Sennelier has bright, outstanding colors but I hate the crumbling problem - I haven't bought any new ones and was very interested in the new 'jumbo' set but was afraid to order because of the crumbling - Peggy(above) states that they have solved the problem - has anyone else found the 'new' Sennelier pastels to not crumble? Maybe we are living in the past and giving Sennelier a bad name - let's here it from the users of the new sets! We need your comments - Peggy may have saved the day for Sennelier!

11-29-2005, 06:07 PM
Any of the senneliers I have purchased have been solid and creamy - the only ones I ever had that crumbled were significantly smaller and dissolved to dust the second I peeled the wrapper off.

I don't use many sennies anymore - I'm a through and through GA gal now - but I do have one of the uber huge ones in that ochre colour I couldn't live without....

11-29-2005, 07:12 PM
Yes Linda, the Unisons are made in the Northumberland region. Indeed it was a most pleasent suprise - all 12 boxes (then) of beautiful clean pastels laying on my table at once - just imagine! :)

Gee I wonder if Pierre, the Sennelier rep in San Francisco, reads this website! :D I did a demo in Portland OR for him several years ago when a new art supply store opened. He assured me all supplies would be there and ready for my use. It wasn't really his fault that the Le Carte paper didn't get there and the only pastel paper they had in stock was Canson. I worked for 6 hours with Sennelier pastels on Canson! The only way I could get the many layers to work was by using Las Caux fixative every once in awhile. When I got home I turned the landscape to the wall for many weeks before looking at it again and deciding it needed only a few strokes to finish it. It was accepted into a large multi medium show in California, and then I sold it here directly to a client so I didn't even loose any commission on it. :) :) and yes, it was the old set of Sennelier that did tend to crumble, but I made them work anyway and sold a lot of pastels and every can of Las Caux they had in stock that day! Like Cori, I do like the new formula and colors, and suggest anyone who's interested to give them a try.

Here's that painting - Sennelier pastel on red/orange Canson (figured if I had to use it I might as well have fun with the color) full sheet size.
Red Earth

11-29-2005, 07:22 PM
Peggy- what a wonderful story AND a wonderful painting! I would have bought anything you used that day had I been there..... no wonder my hubby prefers me to stay at home LOL

11-30-2005, 07:22 AM
I am unable to comment on Schminkes, only because I don't currently own any. I purchased some Sennelier's a while ago, but I have no idea if they're the new formulation. I think they were sitting on the shelf a while before I got them.

I've heard Schminkes decribed as having a buttery feel. The Sennelier's feel more dry- maybe like velvet, but definately NOT butter. I am not pleased with the texture of the reds and light yellows I received- very hard. I received one dk. green that was missing the 1st quarter inch due to excessively poor packaging. There was almost NO foam covering the end pieces, and I experienced crumbling with most of those pieces.

However, I am addicted to their dark colors, especially the blues, greens, and reddish browns. They have several mid-range colors that I also can no longer live without. If they'd package their colors by color instead of subject matter, I would be in pastel heaven.

My next purchase will be a set of Mt. Vision greens. I'm finding my preferences seem to be more by color, not texture. I'm seriously lacking some grayed values, and Great American offers a set that will eventually fill that void in my pastel box.

11-30-2005, 10:10 AM
Peggy - that 'red earth' pastel is outstanding - you do beautiful work - thank you for showing it to us and spurring us on to do better work. Sennelier came out with a new set of 104 new colors, which I would love to own and use but am affraid to purchase - would you know if they are the new, non-crumbling variety? I wish a Sennelier rep would take the time of day to straighten us out - we're trying to help them and ourselves by this site.

11-30-2005, 10:40 AM
Bluefish- are you sure you aren't thinking of the new Schmicke set of colors?

11-30-2005, 08:42 PM
Peggy - that 'red earth' pastel is outstanding - you do beautiful work - thank you for showing it to us and spurring us on to do better work. Sennelier came out with a new set of 104 new colors, which I would love to own and use but am affraid to purchase - would you know if they are the new, non-crumbling variety? I wish a Sennelier rep would take the time of day to straighten us out - we're trying to help them and ourselves by this site.

Thank you for the compliment Bluefish. On the other matter, I decided to call one of my "inside information" people - LOL - to get the latest and most accurate information I could concerning Sennelier pastels. Here is what I learned:
The Sennelier company is not distributing any more of the old sets of pastel as they are long gone from their inventory - so that let's Pierre off the hook! :) However, they have no control over what the various vendors sell or how fast their inventory may turn over so that what they have is the new formulation. I do know that Dakota Pastel Art has 90% new formula, and the others are "newer" (see below). All of the sets are new formula, but some individual pastel sticks are of the "newer" variety.

One way to tell the old from the new is by the pastel color code number. On the very old pastels they were hand written, newer ones were stamped with the number (it may be crooked &/or the lettering isn't the same). On the new formulation, the number is printed in the same type face as the rest of the information on each stick. It is placed in the middle & on the ends of each stick.

Now for the not so good, but not all that bad news. Some of the colors still have a tendency to crumble (I don't know which ones). The company is working on it, but as I recall Dominic Sennelier telling us when the new formulation was first introduced, they had to make a choice between intense color and crumbling in some cases. Intense color, less binder = crumbling. Part of the problem is the minerals with which they work. Since I'm not a chemist and Dominic is, I don't know all that much about this. I do know that every single brand of pastels have one negative factor or another. That's why I don't have any one brand for all colors that I use.

Hope this helps a bit.


12-01-2005, 01:09 AM
While I spend my time drooling at Dakota Art on the internet trying to get good visuals of the sets from Jerry's, I actually went into a local store to see an actual 180 set of Schminke and I might use 40% of them. The colors chosen in the set actually looked like very poor choices in the box. Not sure why, but that is when I realized that I had better buy open stock, or the entire set. I have 60 open stalk schminke, so I think I'll just continue with open stalk.

Marc Sabatella - Are Great Americans really weird colors or is it just how they are named? Dee Christiansen mentioned somewhere the colors were outstanding, but with odd names you wont forget...anyway I think it was Dee.

If anyone wants to go in on a full set of GA's and split into half sticks, let me know too. The price at Jerry's or DA has good prices on full sets. I split a full set of Giraults and that worked out great.

Actually, if anyone is in a financial bind and wants to split ANY set of GA's at ANY TIME PM me.. Doesn't have to be the Full Monte. Looking at the FB Polychromos too to split with anyone - full set on those.

12-01-2005, 01:36 AM
Great American's creator, Bob Strosahl, has a weird sense of humor when it comes to naming his pastels. The pastels are great, but I personally don't like his naming method. I have enough "odd stuff" to remember just with various passwords or pin numbers so when I need new pastels I don't want to have to remember some odd name for ultramarine blue. I have no way to know what pastel I need since my various sets of GA's don't have any wrappings on them either (that's the way they originally came). I learned color by the color wheel names and mineral names, and the GA names mean nothing to me.


12-01-2005, 08:37 AM
Prettytulips- check the swap shop thread because srw2034 was looking to find someone to help split up a set of giraults. I really like the Great Americans- I could remember them ok if pastels used mineral names instead of color or pigment names, but have a really hard time memorizing a bunch of names for pastels- however, Bob's GA names I DO remember very well because they are humorous. And I don't use 'Burnt Reynolds' only for pictures of Burt Reynolds LOL... so they really don't limit my imagination to say- using Perry Winkle for pictures of my friend Perry...wierd funny stuff I can always remember...

12-01-2005, 10:25 AM
Does Great American give you a list of what pigment you are actually using?
Maybe printing your own labels to stick on the existing label? I know with Schminke they might have a name but they list the pigment underneath it if I remember correctly. I tried looking for the swap shop, can't find it.....

12-01-2005, 10:53 AM
I went with the Sennelier set. It offered me a wider palette. Yes, a few have crumbled, but that is because Sennelier's are not as buttery as Schmincke. It comes down to how much tooth you are willing to give up with each stroke. Both types are creamy, so they use up a lot of tooth in a short time. I found myself using Schminke for highlights and finishing touches on my darkest darks; otherwise, I get a lot more use out of my Sen's.

I know you didn't ask about Unison's, but since they came up in the conversation already .... they have quickly become my favorite for the bulk of my painting. They fall into that nice mid-range of softness -- they don't use up as much tooth as the Sen's or Schminke's, but are much softer than the Rembrandt's I use. I find the Unison's allow for about 70% of my work on the painting surface.

It all comes down to personal preference. I ordered sticks from each of the manufacturers, got a feel for them, looked through their color charts, visited art stores that carried individual sticks, and experimented with each. I found what fit my own style and am very happy with my selections. Sure, I have a few sticks I seldom touch -- but that doesn't mean I won't use them in the future.

Good luck with your choice!

12-06-2005, 06:46 PM
Prettytulips- GA lists all the pigments used in their pastels in their color brochure - all their 'catchy' names for the pastels are listed and the pigment makeup is included-

12-06-2005, 06:53 PM
Purples- I was considering the 108 'new colors' that Sennelier came out with in 2000. Yes, I do have the 2005 Schminke 'new colors' - nice set! I really like the colors in the Senny set but am considering whether the new La Grande size would be more practical - I work large and feel that the grande may cover a larger area - do you break yours or use them whole?

Deborah Secor
12-10-2005, 01:04 PM
Well, personal opinion here, but I bought a set of Sennelier blues in the new formulation at an IAPS convention a few years ago when they reformulated and I was deeply disappointed with them. I spent hard-earned cash for sticks that were either hard and coated with a dimpled surface that literally scratched my Wallis paper, or so soft that they simply became the usual little pile of dust, right out of the box.

Their French salesman--I bet you know him, Peggy, but I can't remember his name--sold these pastels to me and I really hoped, based on Handell's urging, that they would be good. I love the colors, but I have to tell you that I actually chucked almost all of them out in the trash!! I couldn't even give most of them to somebody else for fear they'd wreck their painting. (I often keep a box of scrap pastels around for my students to use so that they can find out the differences and try some colors they might not otherwise have.)

I was assured these were the new formula, hot off the press, so to speak, so I never purchased another stick of Sennelier and have highly recommended my students not buy them. I'd love to be convinced otherwise, but after throwing away $200 I figure I can't afford to find out. I'd sure stay away from the Sennelier blues... :( Just MHO, doncha know.

As to the quirky GA names, I love that! It helps me to remember the color better--I mean Burnt Reynolds is far more descriptive than burnt umber or raw sienna to me. I have more than a passing acquaintance with Cindy Winkle and her companion, Perry Winkle. They're friends now! I love the habit-forming colors, too. They're a bit off center, like perfume with a heady or memorable scent. When you know that scent, that color, nothing else is the same. Guess it's just me... :rolleyes:


12-10-2005, 01:18 PM
Deborah - that is a shame about the Sennelier pastels, especially if they were the new formulation. Art supplies, particularly professional lines, are expensive enough as it is without having to throw them away! What a disappointment. :(

I've not tried the GAs (although they manufacture them about 10 minutes away from where I live). I've only used the Schminckes, which I highly recommend.

- Ann

12-10-2005, 03:39 PM
Deborah - if ever a pastel was developed for your area of the country, it's GA's. The colors say Sante Fe, Sedona, Flagstaff, Red Rock Country,etc. I like the feel of the GA's very much and have much of what they offer but I really like bright, bold colors, hence the Sennies! I ordered the 108 'new' colors and I will report my actual experience back here as soon as I receive them - I hope for Senny's sake, they behave themselves because I take no prisoners!

Marc Sabatella
12-16-2005, 12:58 PM
Marc Sabatella - Are Great Americans really weird colors or is it just how they are named?

Sorry, I've been out of the loop and hadn't seen I was specifically addressed. The colors themselves look just fine. There are two issues one might have with them. One is the naming - I just like to know what's in the colors I use, without having to check the fine print. The other potential issue is how they handle the various tints/shades of a given color. Like Unison, it seems Great American doesn't just produces these by adding white and/or black to the basic color. Instead, it appears to me (based on the colors themselves and from my reading of the color charts) they change pigments within a single named color (that is, the lighter tints may be made with different pigments than the darker ones). If well done, this shouldn't matter, and you'd assume the *reason* they do it is they determined through experimentation it actually looks better. But when combined with the quikry naming that tends to make it difficult to know what you're dealing with, and the difficultly finding these in open stock (although I see them more now than a couple of years ago), it just didn't seem this line would work for me in trying to really fine tune a limited palette - it was too hard to be sure what I'd be getting.

12-17-2005, 06:58 AM
I think the whole naming/numbering thing is pretty much six of one, half dozen of the other. Since there is no standard for naming pastel sticks, none of the systems in use right now is perfect anyway. Names work a bit better for me, however..."Burnt Reynolds" (Great American) brings up an entirely different mental image to me than "Mummy" (Sennelier), for instance. The whole numbering business is useless to me; I have enough trouble memorizing my own phone number, etc., much less what numbers 1 through 507.4 of one brand looks like when compared to another brand's 2 through 819. Maybe we're just as well off with Terry Ludwigs which have no name, forcing us to describe them as best we can as in: "that dark, dark, velvety, eggplanty" color.

As to chemical makeup, why should I need to know that exactly in practical everyday use? I generally give a good look-see to the ingredients lists provided by the manufacturers and any color that looks chemically iffy gets either unordered or left in the box. As long as I know those remaining contain stable, colorfast materials, what earthly, practical use would the particular properties of each stick be to me as I stroke on some "Mummy" next to a spot of "Burnt Reynolds" or even "355.8"? I mean it's not like they'll explode when placed in proximity to each other; nor are they going to react chemically the way two or more fluid paint colors do when mixed.

As long as they give me sturdy, stable, smoothly consisent, and richly pigmented sticks in a nice wide range of hues and tints and I'll be happy with whatever they want to call 'em.

12-17-2005, 01:12 PM
hear hear! :)

12-21-2005, 10:35 AM
I mean it's not like they'll explode when placed in proximity to each other; nor are they going to react chemically the way two or more fluid paint colors do when mixed.

LOL Sooz- reminds me of Chemistry Labs I have done- I was pretty good at the unintentional explosion thing......

12-21-2005, 11:36 AM
[QUOTE=Marc Sabatella] I just like to know what's in the colors I use, without having to check the fine print.

I have a chart from GA that came with my landscape set and it has their name for it on the left of the colors and on the right of the colors has the number and the chemical mix.

Marc Sabatella
12-23-2005, 11:24 AM
As to chemical makeup, why should I need to know that exactly in practical everyday use?

You don't, if you've already selected compatible sticks in the first place, and the latter was the context of my original remarks. By "compatible", I obviously don't mean, "will not explode when used together". I mean, "will reliably look harmonious when used together". If I'm using a stick of a particular green, and then decide I want a lighter green elsehwhere in the painting, it is very important to me from a color harmony perspective to start with a lighter shade of the *same* green, then warm or cool or dull it as necessary.

Furthermore, ideally, if the green I am using is a mixture of a blue and a yellow, if I am going to warm it, I'd like to have the option of using the *same* yellow - again, for color harmony reasons, and also, to maximize intensity. Or I might choose to use a different yellow if I specifically also wanted to dull it.

These are things an oil/acrylic/watercolor painter takes for granted in mixing colors, but pastellists for whatever reason seldom pay attention to. The more I painted, the more sensitive I became to these issues. I found I liked working from a limited palette, meaning under a hundred sticks to choose from, and no more than a dozen or so used in any one given painting.

what earthly, practical use would the particular properties of each stick be to me as I stroke on some "Mummy" next to a spot of "Burnt Reynolds" or even "355.8"?

I don't care about "properties" of these pigments in pastel, although again, an oil/acrylic/watercolor painter is going to have to be *very* sensitive to properties like opacity, tinting strength, etc. What I do care care about is that the colors look good together. Maybe you want one area to be more reddish and the other more greenish and duller. To me, it is going to look *much* better if both areas are painted with the same basic brown pigment, but one has more red mixed in and the other has more green mixed in - as opposed to painting the two areas with completely unrelated pigments. And in order to make those sorts of decisions well, you have to know what you are working with. If you've selected your set well in the first place, you don't need to remember what's in each stick as you use it - you might only *have* one brown pigment, just in different values. But one way or another, to my eyes, yes, you are *definitely* better off painting different areas this way than putting "mummy" next to "burnt reynolds".

nor are they going to react chemically the way two or more fluid paint colors do when mixed.

Actually, that virtually never happens, at least, not to any degree on ever has to care about.

Marc Sabatella
12-23-2005, 11:35 AM
I have a chart from GA that came with my landscape set and it has their name for it on the left of the colors and on the right of the colors has the number and the chemical mix.

I'm sure their charts are much better now than three years ago when I made my original comments. But as I recall, the chart I had didn't list composition stick by stick. It lumped all shades of a given color together, and it seemed to be that the different tints of each color might involve different pigments, but wasn't specific. And as I explained in my previous message, I really don't *like* having pigment variation in my tints - I'd prefer to modify the color as *I* see fit.

12-23-2005, 01:18 PM
Marc - you've explained very concisely exactly my aproach, but you have the ability to put it into writing - thank you! For example, I don't like the uncertainity of grabbing for any old "cold" green (or whatever) when I know that there are some more compatible with the color I'm wanting to modify. Perhaps that is why I tend to use mainly the same 50 - 100 pastel colors rather than some of the newer ones if I'm working on a deadline (which is usually the case).

btw - I just visited your website long enough to see your paintings. Beautiful, masterful work! Next time I'll listen to your music, but today must get off to do some last minute shopping.


12-23-2005, 06:05 PM
OK....so I suppose you can tell just looking at an unlabelled half stick which cold green it is and have memorized what all is in it? What if you don't have an absolutely spot-on matched color chart to compare it with? Do you etch all this info into the side of the stick or what? Anyway, whatever floats your boat is fine with me -- I'll just bumble along using my eyes to see what works as I go along. Might not be a perfect method, but it works well enough for me, so far. I can see all you say paying off big time in tubed paint where you know what's in each tube, but with a wide array of pastels, I'd never get anything done if I had to track down just what stick to pick up from a chemical standpoint.

12-24-2005, 12:02 AM
Sooz, your method works for you and that's a good thing. I've studied color for more years than I care to admit to so my method works for me. Yes, it is a matter of committing to memory a lot of information, but after awhile it becomes second nature. Do I make mistakes? You bet! That's why I tend to stay with known pastels.