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Airbugg
11-18-2006, 08:43 PM
Hello everyone! I recently went to fineartstore.com and saw their pastel sampler. I really, REALLY wanted to buy it since so far I've only tried senneliers; but ALAS it was out of my budget. It made me think though that maybe I could create my OWN sampler out of a few of the choice brands. I've been literally sitting at my computer for two days looking at all the different kinds but I'm completely lost on which pastels to try. I like SUPER vibrant colors and pastels that are really SOFT. The art spectrums really caught my eye because the colors are so intense - just my style. (They are also on sale at aswexpress.com for $2!!!) But what are they like? Tell me all you can. Are there any other brands that are a MUST try? I'm also interested in information on the Diane Townsend and Terry Ludwig brands - I liked the look of these too. Please help! I'm so lost. :(

adaus
11-18-2006, 09:38 PM
That is such a cool idea, Airbugg, why didn't I think of trying that? I have only tried Gallery pastels (they have the vibrant color that you said you wanted) and Prismacolor pastels (those have the softness that you were interested in, sometimes too soft) and a square type that I used back in highschool art class that I never got the name of. So I too am eagerly learning about the different brands, but I cannot help you concerning Townsend and Ludwig pastels- I've never tried them.

I was interested in trying out Art Spectrum ones too, and Winsor Newton ones (so if anyone can tell me anything, do share!)

johndill01
11-18-2006, 09:56 PM
My favorites in the pastels are the Ludwigs, (soft and creamy), Great Americans (also soft and creamy), Unison's (soft), Mount Vision (very similar to the Unison), Art Sprectrum (a little harder, but still creamy) and NuPastels for the starter layer.

Use these all the time, as well as Winsor-Newton and Rembrants. Senneliers are at the bottom of my list, just because they seem to crumble too easily.

John

PeggyB
11-18-2006, 10:08 PM
If you go to www.dakotapastel.com, they have a listing of the degree of softness for all the brands of pastel they carry - which is pretty extensive. There are some people who don't exactly agree with the order, but it is pretty darn close, and the difference minimal.

As for vibrancy, generally speaking the more expensive the pastel the more pigment it contains and less "filler". Also the softer they are the more easily they crumble, but since you already use Sennelier you may be used to that. Great American and Terry Ludwig (in several of their colors) crumble just as easily as Sennelier, but they are a little softer to me. For "everyday" use, Unison and Mt Vision have great color and are a bit harder, and Art Spectrum also has some great not to be missed colors but are even slightly harder than the Unison and Mt Vision. All of this is subjective. I suggest you try some of each. Dakota Pastel also offers sampler sets of different brands that you might want to try.

Peggy

BruceF
11-18-2006, 10:46 PM
The link to Dakota is actually www.dakotapastels.com

I'd agree with the others that you should try each brand to see what you like. And try them on the different papers you might use as that can make a difference as well.

My favorites are the softer ones like Terry Ludwig and Diane Townsend. But, I also have a bunch of Art Spectrums, Mt. Visions, a set of Rembrandts and NuPastels, Unisons, etc. And once you get hooked, you'll eventually find yourself buying for a particular color and not just the texture/brand.

Deborah Secor
11-18-2006, 11:05 PM
I like SUPER vibrant colors and pastels that are really SOFT.

I'd suggest trying Schminckes, too. I love some of their saturated, energetic colors and they are soft as creamy silk.

People have already mentioned Great Americans (abbreviated to GA), which are a little more unusual colors--sort of hard to describe, but 'off' from the hues of the rainbow. They're like mayonnaise with silky talcom powder in it... soft and creamy. Some of these colors are habit forming.

Ludwigs are some of the juciest pastels around. They have a slight bit more 'hand' to them, not as slick as the Schmincke or Great American but still among the softest of the extra soft pastels. The colors are rich, royal colors with a kind of noble bent--jewel tones.

Great idea to make up a sampler of your own. Have fun! (Also a great idea for the pastel instructors among us, don't you think? I would happily sell a sampler of several of my favorite brands... <brain ticking along> )

Deborah

Airbugg
11-18-2006, 11:21 PM
Thanks for the great comments! Can anyone describe the Art Spectrum pastels in greater detail? I think I read somewhere that they are similar to rembrandts. And I also read that some are hard while others are soft. This is kind of confusing. Can you tell me which the hard ones are if any?:confused:

nana b
11-18-2006, 11:28 PM
Airbugg, my very favorite pastels are Sennelier. I would like to have a big set but probably never will due to the cost. I love Ludwigs, they are square and make the neatist marks with their sharp edges and they are a little harder than Sennelier. I really, really like Mount Visions, Unisons and Girault. I don't care about Diane Townsands because they are too scratchy. They are beautiful colors but I use Wallis paper and the two together just seems like too much.

Now I want to say that the paper you use is as important as the pastels or I would even go further to say it is more important and I'm sure many more would agree with me. Wallis is great to work on. And you can work on it for a long time before it gets full of pastel. And then when it gets full you can scrub it out and put more pastel on! I never liked Rembrandt pastels until I tried them on wallis and I think I could even get by using them primarialy if I had to.

I would love to try the Roche pastels but can't wrap my mind around the mind boggling price. And what is scarier is, what if I fell in love with them? Scmincke's are really great and I might even like them best if they had the dark intense colors like Sennelier and if they were slimmer. They are actually softer and creamier than Sennelier in my opinion and do not crumble like Senneliers.

I hope this helps you in some way and don't forget the Wallis paper! All of my info is based on using Wallis. If I were going to use Canson paper or something similar I would probably not use Rembrandts and and would use Sennelier and ludwigs and Schminke.

nana b




nana b

prettytulips
11-18-2006, 11:54 PM
I don't think AS are similar to Rembrandts. Rem's are harder, to me. But for a medium soft pastel, a work horse pastel both are ok. Mount Vision gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to what you get for work horse. See Paula Fords work for alot of Mount Vision work. Terry Ludwigs have really nice colors. Are you wanting soft for the feel or soft for top layers? If you use sanded paper, extra soft will wear down really fast.

BruceF
11-19-2006, 12:04 AM
I don't care about Diane Townsands because they are too scratchy. They are beautiful colors but I use Wallis paper and the two together just seems like too much.

nana b,
Let's be clear here. You're talking about the Terrages, correct? The Dian Townsend soft pastels are about as soft as the Terry Ludwig or Unison. And they are definitely not scratchy. The Terrages are, however, because they have pumice mixed in with them. They work great on 'plain' paper rather than the sanded paper where there it would be too much.

Deborah Secor
11-19-2006, 12:13 AM
I was about to chime in with the same point as Bruce...I find the Townsend soft pastels to be very similar in feel to Unisons (both of which I find have a firmer hand than GA, Schmincke, and Ludwig.) The terrages have pumice and are very gritty feeling. I use Townsend softs on Wallis sandpaper all the time and love them! Her darks are some of the best I've found.

Deborah

nana b
11-19-2006, 02:09 AM
Bruce and Deborah, I have one of the Townsands in my hand and it says "softform" and I tried it on my wallis paper and then tried a Ludwig and there is a big difference. :confused: I've never tried Terrages. I thought the Terrages were larger than the softs. Maybe these are Tarrages that got the wrong wrapper. These definately have a grit to them. Have you tried them like I did one right after the other, side by side? I'm curious because I was surprised when I received them and they were gritty.
Try it and let me know if you don't mind.

Thanks, nana b

bluefish
11-19-2006, 08:40 AM
:clap: And don't forget those absolutely wonderful 'La Grande' Senneliers if you are going to work large! - IMHO they are 100% better than the 'crumbly' small Sennies! I really love the Sennie color selection but trying to take the papers off the small ones, crumbles them to dust!

Townsens - I believe 'all' her pastels contain a small amount of 'pumice' but the 'Terrages' are super loaded( to be utilized on soft paper, as they will dig in)

A really good starter set would be the Mt Visions, they are medium soft, have a good color selection and are relatively inexpensive! Look at Paula's work on this site and you will see some beautiful examples of Mt Visions at work!

( only trying to help - no affiliation with any of these vendors - but come to think of it how does the 'Bluefish Recommended Starter Pastel Set' sound?) .......JUST KIDDING!!!!!! ..........'bluefish' :thumbsup:

Deborah Secor
11-19-2006, 12:08 PM
There's a huge difference in the grit content of the soft and terrages Townsends--and the soft ones don't seem gritty at all to me. I'd say slightly firmer, with more 'pull' than GA, Schmincke or Ludwig, and about the same as Unisons, which seem stiff and harder to me after using the above-mentioned brands. I was doing a demo in class yesterday and grabbed a Unison for a final touch and it just wiped away the pastel. A GA covered up the already-soft layer quite nicely, like warm butter. That's the difference to me!

Oh, and for what it's worth I also feel the Mt. Visions are slightly firmer, with a feel like Unisons, too. I want soft, soft, soft pastels. And bluefish, I LOVE my giant Sennies! Not at all like the little ones. NO crumbling or resultant crying over spilt pastel.

Deborah

Airbugg
11-19-2006, 02:35 PM
Wow so many ideas! I've never tried Wallis paper (is it the kind with sand on it?) I've only tried smooth pastel papers like canson. What's all the hype about wallis paper and la carte?

And also, are there any stores that are selling the good pastels really cheap? (P.S. I meant to ask about the townsend soft pastels, not the terrages):wave:

By the way you guys, you should try sennelier half sticks, these are the ones I have and they're not crumbly at all! Although I have the 40 set and there are two in particular that are really hard!

***You pastel instructors out there really should create a sampler set. I really would buy one.***

MarieMeyer
11-19-2006, 03:11 PM
[QUOTE=Airbugg]Wow so many ideas! I've never tried Wallis paper (is it the kind with sand on it?) I've only tried smooth pastel papers like canson. What's all the hype about wallis paper and la carte?

Wallis and La Carte are sanded papers, meaning that they grab more of the pastels. They are nice, but given that you are on a budget, I'd say don't go there now - Inch-ber-inch they are 10 to 20X more expensive than alternatives.

I often use relatively inexpensive charcoal paper - with the Ingres "laid" surface. I find this surface more attractive than Canson.


And also, are there any stores that are selling the good pastels really cheap?

No, the prices are about the same from all stores. But as has been discussed on this thread before, beware that some online retails gouge on shipping charges.


By the way you guys, you should try sennelier half sticks, these are the ones I have and they're not crumbly at all! Although I have the 40 set and there are two in particular that are really hard!

The consistency of the Sennelier half sticks IS much better than the full stickes - even the company knows it! It is simply becasue the half sticks are slightly thicker than the full sticks, that added bit does wonders for the firmness.

BruceF
11-19-2006, 09:20 PM
nana b,
Are they hard to the touch and on the paper? The Terrages are noticably harder and grittier than the soft ones. I can only speculate that something got mixed up.

Townsend softs were the first pastels I ever used. It wasn't until Diane mentioned it in a workshop that the softs also contain pumice. Otherwise, I would have never known. I've never noticed any grittiness with her softs. The Terrages are gritty just to the touch.

Bringer
11-19-2006, 09:42 PM
Hi there,

I have the 80 halfs of the Sennelier and they are really great. Especially for landscapes.
The dark blue are hard and so are those colours from Schmincke.
The answer to that is quite simple. It happens because the pigments used on those colours are harder - I know what you're thinking : «But there are brands with the same colours and they're not hard». Well, but they're not as «vibrant», right ?
That's because they use more binder do adjust the hardness, making the pastel less pure.
The more pure are the pastels, more differences you'll find between sticks.
Just like you would find between oil colour made with natural pigments instead of those made with synthetic ones (usually iron oxyd something, I guess) that are now common.
And bla bla bla :-)

Kind regards,

José

P.S. besides Senneliers, as for vibrant colours I like Schmincke (they are expensive).
I cannot recomend a brand over the other in general terms because each brand has its own benefits and deficits.

nana b
11-19-2006, 11:37 PM
Bruce, yes I can tell the difference, they are gritty. I haven't tried them in a long time so maybe I'll give them another go. I do love the color intensity.
I'm getting ready to try the gatorboard and I'll try them some on that. Maybe I didn't try them long enough to give them a chance.

nana b

AnnieA
11-20-2006, 02:08 PM
nana b,
Let's be clear here. You're talking about the Terrages, correct? The Dian Townsend soft pastels are about as soft as the Terry Ludwig or Unison. And they are definitely not scratchy. The Terrages are, however, because they have pumice mixed in with them. They work great on 'plain' paper rather than the sanded paper where there it would be too much.

Actually, Bruce, I have to agree with nana. In the very darkest hues/values, the Dianne Townsend's pastels (the basic ones, with the chunky shape) sometimes are just a bit scratchy. But, wow! I can't imagine any darker and more beautiful colors (they are dark, and wonderfully intense!). I haven't tried the Ludwigs, though, which I hear are wonderful, nor several other brands, so I can't make a full comparison.

I think I read once that Townsend at some point decided that the slight scratchiness was a trade off that was necessary in order to get those beautiful darks. I haven't ever made pastels, so I'm not certain, but I think it may have something to do with the quality of the pigment changing as it is ground in preparation for use in pastel making and/or the amount of binder that's needed. Too much grinding may produce a pigment that's softer, but that doesn't have quite the richness of what Townsend has achieved by allowing her darks to remain just slightly gritty. Being madly in love with some of those colors, I am glad that's what she decided. Her more middle and light value pastels typically seem somewhat softer, and most don't have that scratchiness issue. The issues that I have with them are 1) that they are fat and chunky and can't be used for any fine lines at all; and, 2) they are rather fragile, and break easily (this due to a minimum of binder being used - I can live with using the broken bits, but please also know that I'm a klutz, and frequently drop pastels, so we can't necessarily blame the Townsends. :lol:).

Airbugg: what a great thread, and great idea about the sample set! The Dakota set sounds like a good idea, but maybe you could analyze the palette of an artist whose work you'd like to emulate, in order to decide on which hues should be included. You should really add at least one dark, dark Townsend soft pastel to that sample set!

I also like the thread title, airbugg. :clap: If one must be lost, there's really no better place! :lol:

And good point, airbugg and Marie, about the Senn half-stick sets. ...a good place to start...

Kitty Wallis
11-20-2006, 03:06 PM
Since I make my own sticks I don't know much about the current state of the pastel market, except Terry's colors. He makes the colors I like, clean and clear strong colors. So I do use Ludwigs with my own colors. Many of the other brands I've tried don't work with my colors. They are too greyed.

nana b
11-20-2006, 03:10 PM
Thanks AnnieA for backing me up, I was so lonely out there. Sniff, sniff.
Well all kidding aside I have started breaking small pieces off my pastels sometimes when I'm working in a tight place. You can really get some good crisp points that way. I find the chunkie pastels like you said, hard to get in smaller places and that takes care of that. I save the dust and chippies for making more pastels so I don't waste too much.

nana b

BruceF
11-20-2006, 03:24 PM
Well, now you have me confused. The ones I think of chunky are the Terrages. http://www.townsendpastels.com/resources/terrages_hot.jpg

The soft form are traditional sticks. http://www.townsendpastels.com/resources/soft_hot.jpg

I just went through the Townsend softs that I have (mostly darks) and the only one I feel is gritty is 2D. But, it still goes on Canson and Wallis as smooth as the others Deborah and I mentioned.

Kitty Wallis
11-20-2006, 03:28 PM
...The dark blue are hard and so are those colours from Schmincke. The answer to that is quite simple. It happens because the pigments used on those colours are harder - I know what you're thinking : «But there are brands with the same colours and they're not hard». Well, but they're not as «vibrant», right ?
That's because they use more binder do adjust the hardness, making the pastel less pure. The more pure are the pastels, more differences you'll find between sticks.
\Kind regards,
José
Very good description of the problem textures in pastels. Most don't realize that different pigments result in different textures. Except, more binder doesn't help, softeners must be used

The Pthalos are the worst problem. They, as it's called in the industry, 'flocculate' That means they possess a strong moleculor attraction which creates large particles that must be ground in a mill. If, for instance, you attempt to make a stick of pure Pthalo Green, ground fine and using just water, no binder, the stick will dry so hard it won't make much of a mark on my sandpaper! If you mix it with a soft pigment it will not soften the stick much, it will still be very hard. You must add a considerable quantity of chalk or other softeners to make a reasonable texture, which makes an unsaturated color in the stick. Unfortunately Pthalos must be used, since they are perfect for pastelists, being clean color that is lightfast and relatively not toxic.

This is the reason there is such a large hole in the dark green region of the pastel palette. Also the reason so many pastel makers use black, a very soft pigment, to create darks. I prefer darks made of mixed colors, such as Quinacridone Magenta mixed with Pthalo Green. Or Pthalo Green and Burnt Umber. For me, black makes a color that is too dead. Terry Ludwigs' are the best I've found in rich darks.

BruceF
11-20-2006, 03:47 PM
Thanks for the information, Kitty. :)

nana b
11-20-2006, 05:50 PM
Bruce when I said chunkie I meant the regular pastels like Unison, Townsand (not Terrages), Mount Visions. They are too fat for detail or tight edges for me. When I get more experiance maybe I'll get better. I'm not sure which ones Annie wastalking about but I thought she meant the ones I was referring to. The Ludwigs being square have the neat square edges and then the Giraults are thinner and easier to get detail with I think.

nana b

DAK723
11-21-2006, 11:21 PM
As you can tell from all the replies, there are a ton of wonderful pastels, many of them are of the soft, velvety variety, and you can go crazy and spend a lot of money trying to satisfy your pastel cravings!

Personally, I find buying sets is a waste of money. I have bought a few sets and in every case have probably used less than half the pastels in the set just because it wasn't a color that I ever needed. I am lucky to live in a city where there are a few art stores that sell open stock (individual) pastel sticks. If you have that possibility, it is the way to go. Usually you can try out the individual sticks (with the exception of the very expensive brands), so you can get the feel and see the color. I would recommend buying the COLORS you need and not worry so much about the brand. If you have to buy online, buy a few from the open stock from a few different brands and create your own sampler set.

Don

Bringer
11-22-2006, 08:36 PM
Hi Don,

And how da heck do we know the colours that we need ?:rolleyes:
I keep needing new colours all the time:evil:

Kind regards,

José

lisilk
11-22-2006, 09:56 PM
I have started breaking small pieces off my pastels sometimes when I'm working in a tight place. You can really get some good crisp points that way. I find the chunkie pastels like you said, hard to get in smaller places and that takes care of that. I save the dust and chippies for making more pastels so I don't waste too much.

nana b

You might add a few pastel pencils to your collection as well for those really tight fine lines ( which none of my work has:p :rolleyes: ) but I do use them for starting portraits.)

Li

Kitty Wallis
11-25-2006, 05:27 PM
And how da heck do we know the colours that we need ?:rolleyes:
I keep needing new colours all the time:evil:
Kind regards, José
There are literally millions of colors. Not in the pastel market. Only a small fraction of those millions are actually made. All of us need new colors all the time. No matter how many we have there are always more.

The good news, for me, is I have learned so much from this frustrating situation.
1. If I have the right value, I can choose from many colors to get the effect I want.
2. When I Really don't have a color that works, I can make the 'wrong' colors work by using two or more colors in the right value, using clean, clear strokes next to each other. For instance, if I want to make a warm highlight on a face, I can use bright yellow, providing I choose the right color for the adjacent shadow. You can let the viewers eye make sense of it if you give them the right ingredients.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Nov-2006/37204-drewfinish.jpg

DAK723
11-25-2006, 11:08 PM
Originally Posted by Bringer
And how da heck do we know the colours that we need ?
I keep needing new colours all the time
Kind regards, José

How do we know? We know what we need when we are in the middle of a painting and none of the XXX (fill in a number) pastels we have are the right color! Yesterday, I was not happy with the dark green I was using so I went out and bought 2 senneliers. I, too, keep needing new colors all the time!

I guess I will clarify a little when I recommended to buy individual sticks as opposed to buying sets. I, too have bought a few sets and have always found them wanting, but it is a good place to start. I also have the sennelier 80 half-stick set, as well as a rembrandt 30 half-stick. I would say the larger the set you can afford, the better, but you will still probably have to supplement. For example, when doing my first landscape I found I needed more greyish greens then were available in my sets. I went out and bought 7 giraults - they seemed to have a much better variety of greyed colors. I also found I needed some really soft darks in a greenish blue. Found that Schminke had the colors I was looking for. It seems every manufacturer has their strengths and weaknesses, so I try to pick and choose. Again, I am lucky to live in Rochester, home of one of the top pastel stores in the country.

Don

Sketchcny
12-03-2006, 10:08 AM
I bought one set of Rembrandts (the 90 stick landscape box) when I began working in pastel. Gave me a great start. Since then, I have only purchased individual sticks. I experiment with each of the brands (at first, I swore I would NEVER spend $4 on a single stick of Unison -- now I own nearly the entire set :lol: ). I think you have to try them all -- even if it is only 5 - 10 sticks from each manufacturer, just to get an idea of the feel and how it works into your personal method. I purchased GA's about 5 months ago, and am still learning how to incorporate them into my process.

I loved Kitty's comment. I also work in "values" and just let the colors dictate themselves.

Happy experimenting!!
Paul

AnnieA
12-03-2006, 05:36 PM
I just happened to notice that there's a sale on Unison half-stick sets at the Fine Art store: it's $29.95 for 18 half sticks (they say there are limited quantities). They have two different sets, and if the colors are ones that you think you might use, this might be worth it. The half-stick sets are a great way to become familiar with a particular brand, and to build up your collection of varied color, imho.
http://www.fineartstore.com/cgistore/store.cgi?page=/new/catalog.html&setup=1&ida=12888&idp=2&his=0|2&cart_id=_EPEnKg6ECGhFal5m.3848

Bringer
12-03-2006, 06:39 PM
Hi Annie,

Those are half sticks. I find it expensive.

Kind regards,

José

AnnieA
12-03-2006, 07:06 PM
Those are half sticks. I find it expensive.

Ola Jose! :wave: Do you have a different source that offers better (which would be extraordinarily good) prices on Unision??? (If so, why haven't you shared it with us? :p)

For comparison, Dakota sells sets of 18 whole pastels for $64.95. The Fine Art store price for the half-stick set is less than half of that, and there's the additional advantage of having the other $30+ to invest in other colors (or entirely different things), while one is still in the process of figuring out which brands/colors one prefers/needs. Sounds like a bargain to me... :D (Of course, all that only makes sense if there are enough colors in the particular set that the artist is pretty sure he/she might actually use...)

Or do you find Unison in general too expensive? They seem to last a long time, and are fatter than some other brands, so even though an individual stick may cost more, they are still a bargain, cause you get more per stick...imho.