View Full Version : What type to start with

12-11-2001, 07:04 PM
I have never used pastels and did not know there were so many types to choose from - where does one start? Should I get a mixture How about oil pastels?

12-11-2001, 07:39 PM
Hi Missmouse!

I have only worked with oil pastels once, and then earlier this year, I tried soft pastels......Loved those! I haven't had an opportunity to do any more with the soft pastels yet, but it was fun to work with! Get some!:D


12-11-2001, 11:45 PM
Hi Mouse,

Two months ago I was in your shoes ... and being the logical, ultra-prepared, analytical engineering-type ... I read everything I could get my hands on and talked to anyone who'd talk to me before I bought so much as a single stick of anything. I drove myself and those around me crazy, but I learned alot and am prepared to share ...

For a complete beginner (I don't know what your previous experience is) I recommend a set of CrayPas Junior Oil Pastels at around $6.00 for a 50-color set and a set of Alphacolor student-grade soft pastels at around $20 for 48 pieces. Both have enough colors to start with (there's an advantage to learning mixing anyway, I'm sure) and the price is low enough that you're not out much if you discover you hate pastels. About oil pastels ... I love them. I probably use my cheap, student-grade oil pastels more than anything else I have. I've talked with some people who are intimidated by them but I caught on quicker with these than I did with softies. They're not as brilliant and colorful but you can really cake 'em on and and you don't have to mess with fixative (which I hate). It's just a very different medium.

Next step ... Cray-Pas Expressionist Oil Pastels at $18 for 50 colors, they are also available in open stock for replacing sticks. A bit better quality, smoother and more highly pigmented than the Juniors. For softies I'm moving to a Rembrandt 60-piece half-stick set at $40.00, which are only a little harder than the highest priced brands and I can't tell much difference in brilliance, yet. I've also begun adding Nupastel sticks in some colors for detailed work because they're harder and can be sharpened. They're also much cheaper than pastel pencils for finishing details on a large painting.

Final stop/Dream set ... 50-piece Sennelier Oil Pastels at $100 per set. They go on like butter ... and open-stock available to keep the set intact. 50-piece Sennelier Soft Pastel full-stick set at $129 ... buttery smooth, brilliant color, etc. A 96-piece set of Prismacolor Nupastels and a 60-piece set of Stabillo Pastel Pencils. I could do just about anything I ever wanted to with this setup. I could add colors to the oil and soft sets as needed.

Of course, if you have the bucks ... there is always Art Works, Schminke, Art Spectrum, and full sets of Sennelier pastels. Hit Jerry's Artarama or Dick Blick online and you'll see what's out there. I'm sure the more experienced users here can help further.

Best of luck ...

12-12-2001, 01:04 AM
MY opinion:
avoid oil pastels first.
They are very different than soft pastel.
If you want to learn the medium be a purist. It just is a different thing.
I am also no help on which ones. I do 90% of my work with nupastel and holbein HARDish ones.
I started with truly soft pastels from a friends kit. What drove me crazy was that when I sprayed the fixative it all disolved.
(If you like dense buttery color the oils may be better, but for the experience of blending, use soft, which is the same as hard...pastel)
AND I have not used them much so like I say, it is prejudiced and MY opinon, but soft pastel work better on paper. The oil bleeds oil and you have to be prepared to cover a sheet. It likes to be used on the same support as oil because it IS oil.
Oils get weird after time too. I have a set a friend gave me only a couple of years old and they are no longer useful.
If you want to dabble, start with soft. MY second-hand set was over 20 years old and worked just fine.
SO that is MY opinion....oh, and both of my brands are REALLY CHEAP!

12-12-2001, 12:30 PM
You could do worse than getting in touch with our own Terry Ludwigt, here are WC, his pastels are superb
[email protected]
and his homepage is www.makepastels.com

;) ;)

Tony Perrotta
12-12-2001, 01:14 PM
Hi Mousie, I also have to say don't go for the oil pastels. I bought some for my daughter and gave them a try a few times. If you want your work to come out like most of the pastel paintings that you see, get soft pastels. Hopefully Santa will bring me some too.I have been looking at and comparing pastels and it seems that you can't go wrong with either the Rembrant sets or the Sennilier half stick sets. A set of both and you will be on you way. When I first started looking at pastels I couldn't believe some of the prices, see if you can catch them on sale, all the dealers have pretty good prices for Christmas. Do you ever shop at Pearl in Paramus they have everything under the sun.

Take care Tony

12-12-2001, 02:28 PM
What is the objection to oil pastels related to? I've noticed since I started in pastel last month that most artists will caution against oil pastels, especially for beginners. Is this just due to it's difference in appearance from softies? Or are there other things I just haven't experienced yet?

I kinda' like 'em ... but I'm a beginner so I could change my mind. Here's a quick sketch in oils from a photo (amateurish ... I know):


12-12-2001, 05:05 PM
I like your painting Snakum
Tonny - I just got home from Pearl Paint in NJ and I bought a set of Winsor and Newton soft pastles (24 half assorted) and a set of Neoart Aquarelle (10 sticks)

Thanks for all the help everyone and wow they are expensive !

I am also going to order a set of Terry Ludwigts.

12-12-2001, 05:26 PM
I think it's a shame that oil pastels and soft pastels are both called pastels because, to me, they're completely different.

Personally I have never been able to get oil pastels to look like anything other than crayons. I admire those that can do something with them.

I would advise folks start with soft pastels because that's what I like! LOL :D But I think people should try out different mediums to see what suits their way of working. Many manufacturers do beginners sets.

12-14-2001, 11:41 PM
Welp, I have to agree with the lovely Sandra-lady, of course :) Soft pastels and oil pastels have about one thing in common: they have similar shapes and that's about it :)

As for using fixative with soft pastels: don't.

Simple as that :o

12-14-2001, 11:51 PM
Thank you Roan as I wil be starting with my softies and wondered if I should spray or not. I will not ........

12-17-2001, 12:21 PM
I started using both at roughly the same time and I agree that they are so different from the other. I don't agree from shying away from the the oils! You can do much with an oil pastels, I suggest you buy an inexpensive set, loew cornell is about 9.00 for 60 colors and they are pretty good! Dre