View Full Version : Finding Hard Pastels

Art Leat
11-09-2006, 02:25 AM
I recently bought for the first time some soft pastels (Sennelier) . Then, having read some glowing reviews, I got from the library Bill Creevy's " The Pastel Book".

In his demo "Lobster with Lemon", BC talks about using hard pastels and pastel pencil to create detail. I have found pencils in the catalologues of my usual suppliers, but have been unable to identify sources and makes of hard pastel sticks. All the catalogues seem dedicated to soft pastels. This may sound dumb, I know, but I'd be glad of any help.

Still on the subject of combining the various forms of pastel in one image, my early investigations lead me to the conclusion that I am unlikely to be able to obtain soft and hard pastels and pastel pencils from the same manufacturer. How then can I ensure a match of hues tints and shades between the three forms?:confused:

Rose Queen
11-09-2006, 03:18 AM
Art, I've moved your question to the Pastels forum; I'm sure someone will be along shortly to help you out!

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Katherine T
11-09-2006, 05:03 AM
Art - you want to try conte sticks - they make them in a lot of colours. I think I saw them in open stock at Cass Arts (behind the National Portrait Gallery in Charing Cross Road) recently.

You could also try Derwent pastel pencils - although I don't use those much as I prefer the conte which are great for drawing into soft pastel.

PM me if you have any difficulty getting them locally.

11-09-2006, 06:24 AM
Katherine has a good idea re: Conte's. You might also want to try to locate Nupastels by Prismacolor. They are hard sticks with a very wide range of colours. They can be sharpened to a point and are good for detail as well as broad covering marks. Not sure if they're available in the UK or not. They carry them here in USA online catalog and at retail stores at Dick Blick, Jerry's, ASW, Cheap Joes, etc.

Art Leat
11-09-2006, 08:27 AM
Thanks Katherine T and beebluefern for your advice.

I'm not close enough to Cass Arts to use them, nor do Conte sticks seem to be available from local art shops, but I have found them in the catalogue of a mail order supplier I have used before, so I'll try them.

A web search failed to turn up a UK source of Nupastels. I guess they are only available in the USA

11-09-2006, 11:24 PM
In my experience, the artist quality hard pastels, in order of decreasing hardness are:

Faber-Castel Polychromos

I've tried them all. The Holbeins give you the biggest selection to choose from (144 colors). I also like their consistancy the best of the group - hard enough to hold a fine line, but yet not so hard that it is hard work to get them onto the paper.

Conte is French, Cretacolor is Austrian and Faber-Castel is German, so I'd assume you could find them in the larger shops in the UK.

As far as I know, the Conte and Cretacolors are both available only in sets.

Nupastels are very common, I'd be shocked if they also aren't on sale in the UK. Sometimes they are called Prismacolors. Check out ebay.co.uk. It is pretty common here in the US to find both Faber-Castels and Nupastels available as open stock.

If all else fails, given the strength of the pound v the dollar, it might be worth while to check out Dakota (http://www.dakotapastels.com) and see if you can get some shipped economically. I have found their customer service to be very good.

Art Leat
11-10-2006, 12:44 AM
Your comments, clearly based on wide experience in using pastel, have been very helpful, and I have put a hard copy of your post in front of me to remind me to investigate further.

I had not heard of Holbein pastels before, but having read often recommendations of the quality of their wet media, these sound particularly interesting.

Can you recommend any books on pastel?

Thanks for your help

11-10-2006, 09:08 AM
The Faber Castells have better lightfastness than the other hard pastels, so you may want to consider those, as opposed to the brands that have lots of fugitive colors. I got the full set on Ebay for not too much money. 'Would recommend looking there!


Deborah Secor
11-10-2006, 04:21 PM
I can suggest a few books on pastel. Look for Jackie Simmonds' books in the UK--great primers! She has her own forum here so you can look there and ask questions. I also have an older book from the UK by David Cuthbert called The Pastel Painter's Solution Book that you might look for. It has a nice range of subjects and problems it discusses. I'm sure there must be others availalbe where you are, too. You might do a search in the Soft Pastels Forum for books. I think there was a good thread on that...


11-10-2006, 04:47 PM

Have you tried Jacksonart, Heaton Cooper or Gerstaecker ?
The last one is german but has a UK and a french site.
I guess the UK's site is http://www.gerstaecker.uk.co

Kind regards,


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