View Full Version : Which of these should I buy

bruce johnson
09-28-2006, 03:35 AM
Hi guys

I'm new to pastels and about to break out and buy some loose pastel sticks to use for portrait work. At my local art shop they sell Schminke, Rembrandt, W & N, Art Spectrum and I think Holbein pastels. I want to buy the best quality available. At the moment I'm leaning towards Schminke because I use that brand for my watercolours. Are all these brands about the same as far as pigment content and workability. Schminke is the dearest per stick.
Any tips on what paper is good for portraits would be appreciated as well. I have seen some paper that looks like coloured sandpaper, is that good.

:thumbsup: Cheers Bruce

09-28-2006, 08:24 AM
oh boy Bruce...a big question.... Schminkes are very soft...most looking to get into pastels are given the suggestion to look at www.dakotaart.com (http://www.dakotaart.com) they have a sample set with different brands you can try. No one can determine what kind you need but you, I know, that sounds silly, but true. They all have different properties. Also if you go to dakotas website they have a rating on the hard/soft of the various brands. As to the quality of the brands you mention, they are all good, just vary in hardness, and this WILL affect how you use them. Does your art shop sell individual sticks? That would be good also,to get a few of the brands and try. My paper preference is Wallis or Corlourfix by Art Spectrum. La Carte is ok ,but is a pain, because the slightest bit of moisture melts the surface. Portraits are also good on suede matboard, and some people on here get beautiful work off Canson papers. Lots of choices out there, you will need to do a bit of experimenting. Hope this helps,

09-28-2006, 09:25 AM
Tress gives good advice. Also, since you are able to actually see the sticks at your art supply store you can probably do a little testing. Schminke is great for the top layers. All of the super soft sticks also fill up the tooth of the paper quickly. In light of that you'll want a harder stick for most of the painting. Many people use Rembrandts for their hard stick which are also less expensive and have a very large color selection. Personally I use the Rembrandts, W&N (which I like very much), some Art Spectrum, some Schminke and Terry Ludwigs. There are other brands out there that are excellent brands too.

Paper choices have become huge lately. Canson Mi Tientes is great for portrait work, as is the Ampersand Pastelbord. Art Spectrum is another very good sanded paper and you can also coat your own boards with their primer.

You can also get alot of info from this site:

There are also a number of threads around here re this subject. Good luck and have fun.:)

09-28-2006, 02:26 PM
Bruce, you are in the "home" of Art Spectrum brand - Australia! Lucky you. Although others have given good advise for anyone living in the US or Canada, importing a selection of anything isn't really practical. Of these brands (Schminke, Rembrandt, W & N, Art Spectrum and Holbein), Art Spectrum or Rembrandt would be my suggestion as "firsts" for anyone inexperienced with the medium. Either of them is about the same degee of softness/hardness. In some colors one may be a bit harder or have better pigmentation than the other, but that is a personal selection best decided by getting one of each and trying them out - or if there are sample sticks available as there are at art supply stores in my area you can try that too. Schminke is a very good pigmented brand in most colors, but as others have mentioned it is also very soft and tends to fill the "tooth" of the paper quickly. You could buy a couple sticks of the lightest values of Schminke as they do glide over other pastels very well and the lightest values are the last you will be applying to your work. Donna Aldridge (who's been busy painting these last few weeks and unable to visit WC) is a representative painter of Art Spectrum here in the U.S., and she does beautiful work with them in all subjects: portraiture, landscape & still life. She uses Art Spectrum paper almost exclusively too, and I'm guessing that is the paper you are describing. If not, it should be available in your area, and you may want to investigate using it.

Good luck, and please let us know which ones you purchase.


09-28-2006, 05:23 PM
Personally, I have all those pastels and the one I would use for portraits is Holbein out of the choices you have there. Of course you will find colors you can't do without in the other brands and of course buy open stock of those, but I wouldn't do Schminke as the majority of your choice unless you work heavy. They are soft. For portrait colors though I'd go with Holbein or Girault.

bruce johnson
09-28-2006, 07:37 PM
Wow what a lot of great information. I could have searched for hours on WC and not found out all this stuff. I didn't know about the hard pastel as your bottom layers, and then using softer sticks for the final layers. I was on my way to buy a heap of Schminke but will start off with a good range of Rembrandt and build up from there. I'll buy a few of the other brands as well to try. Interesting that Art Spectrum is more expensive there than Rembrandt.

I'll also buy a heap of different papers based on the recommendations you guys have given me. THese portraits will be for commission work so I want good quality supports.

Thanks a bunch guys, I'll report back with what I've chosen and what I like.

:clap: :wave: :thumbsup:

09-28-2006, 08:56 PM

Be sure to check out the Dakota website, because they also list the various brands from hardest to softest so you can get a real idea what you like the best. I tend to prefer NuPastels, Mount Visions and Unisons, along with some Art Spectrum and various other brands. Dakota sells a sampler with several varieties in it that you might try if you can to get a better idea of what is really available, rather than just what is locally available. I think every pastel artist has their own favorites, and you will probably have to find yours. You can also use sanded papers like Wallis, or make your own surface on a support like illustration board, watercolor paper, masonite and cover with gesso or matte medium with pumice. Hope this helps, and be sure to ask any questions here at all. Good luck in your work! :)

09-28-2006, 08:58 PM
lol, Peggy is so observant!! Bruce, I did not even see that you were in Aus. my mistake!! I absolutely love Art Spectrum. I do have their full set, plus a lot of others, and I do tend to use them quite a lot. Good luck in your search for fun stuff!!