View Full Version : mixing pastels / more than one brand

04-18-2008, 05:32 AM
Are soft pastels like schmincke best used over a base of other pastels? Are these too soft to use by themselves? is it recommended to have more than one brand of pastels? What are the advantages of having medium soft pastels like rembrandt?:crying:

04-18-2008, 09:13 AM
The very two brands I use!

Actually, seems to me like most people here use any number of brands in one painting. As pastels are dry, there is no problem at all mixing different brands.

I have a very cheap brand too, and sometimes I start the painting with them, especially if I work on sanded paper. These 'cheepos' make a fine underpainting, and it doesn't 'pain' me to brush off excess dust, as it costs so little. The Americans often start with Nupastels, a rather hard brand, and proceed to softer brands on top.

Usually I start with Rembrandts, and do most of the painting with them. They suit my heavy-handedness, because they are medium hard. I can do light strokes, heavy strokes, and lighter strokes on top of heavier. Mostly the Schminckes come into use towards the end of a painting, as they lay down very nicely on top of the Rs, and are richer in density and colour. (Specially if I work on Canson, the Ss give me a minimum of two layers more than the Rs.)

If you have a lighter hand, you can use Ss all the way, from start to finish. They clog up sanded paper real quick for me, as they shed dust so extremely easily. You just have to touch them to the paper, and there is a mark, while with the Rs you have to press lightly.

Where I live, the Rs are also cheaper than the Ss, about two thirds of the price of the latter. But that is not the main reason I like them. The Rs are good "workhorse" pastels that can do a lot of different things, including blending the Ss if you use Rs over the Ss, so you can work with harder over softer too. (There are other good 'workhorses' the Americans use.)

And then there are the special colours that can only be found in certain brands. I will add those to my collection of sticks, regardless of brand.

All in all, it depends on your hand and style, and paper. You'll find the brands that suit you. Basically, what works is fine. Stick to one brand, or have dozens of brands.

04-18-2008, 10:39 AM
Most people will work from hard to soft sticks and dark to light for many of the reasons Charlie mentioned.

CM Neidhofer
04-18-2008, 12:30 PM
I agree with Charlie. Although I have both Rembrandt's and NuPastels, and use them both for either underpainting or in the beginning stages of a piece, Rembrandt's are the less costly of the two and really are a great "workhorse" as pastels go. I have done entire paintings with Rembrandt's, which were the suggested brand to purchase when I first started using pastels in a class I took. But I also have a very cheap set, purchased at Walmart most likely, that I also use for underpainting. Depends on the ground I'm using.


04-19-2008, 12:13 AM
I think Charlie has said it all pretty good. For me I use either harder pastels first or just start with what ever I think will help me in the end product, I mostly choose by colors, more than brand. I have use just schmincke for the hole painting start to finish, it just depends on what I am after or thinking at the time.

04-19-2008, 01:15 AM
It all depends upon personal preference, what type of ground your are working on, and how "heavy" a hand you use. I've painted entire paintings with Sennelier, Schmencke, Great American and Unison - generally thought to be the top four in "softness". I usually use a sanded or self prepared surface with them. However, once I did a demo using all Sennelier pastels on Canson Mi Teintes paper because the Le Carte paper I was supposed to use hadn't arrive in time for the demo (it was a grand opening of an art supply store in Portland OR, and Sennelier had asked me to do the demo with their products). Even though I used a very light hand, the only way I got through a 6 hour demo was by using lots of Les Caux fixitive between the layers of Sennelier pastel. This demo went on to be accepted in a very prestigious all medium competition in California, and later sold.

I never use Nu Pastels because most of them are not lightfast, and I rarely use Rembrandt because some of them have the same problem. Even if you "completely" cover them they can still fade, and over time change the appearance of your work. Some people say they use them since they are less expensive and they are "just learning", but my philosophy is don't use something while "just learning" that you will regret using once you learn the trade, and can't find a suitable lightfast subsitute. There are too many good lightfast brands to learn to use in the beginning.

I suggest you experiment to find how you like to work. There are no hard and fast rules about the application of pastels.


04-28-2008, 04:51 AM
I have what you would call a light hand so many times I just go for the color I want regardless of the brand. I've done comeplete Unison or Schmincke pieces on the smooth side of canson papers and it doesn't effect me. But if I'm really experimenting with color I will layer different hardness knowing I don't want to run out of tooth.

Are soft pastels like schmincke best used over a base of other pastels?
Schmincke is the softest and a common example for layering hardness because it will mark over just about every other pastel. You can use it on its own too, but if you are mixing brands you will get frustrated trying to put another brand over the top of it.

Are these too soft to use by themselves?

Is it recommended to have more than one brand of pastels?
If you have enough money.

What are the advantages of having medium soft pastels like rembrandt?
see below

I think its mostly a matter of cost, availability, and the number of colors you want.

When I started out with pastels I wanted many colors to work with and money was a problem so I went with a full set of nupastels and would buy individual rembrandts if I needed other colors. I've always been blessed with a store less than 10 minutes away that carried individual pastels everywhere I've lived. Eventually I purchased a complete set of rembrandts and from then started adding other brands and in sets and individually. When I get them all out now I think wow thats a few thousand dollars.

Fortunately today with the internet there are more choices and everything is cheaper. Rembrandt, Sennelier, and Schmincke all offer what they call half stick sets. It's an affordable way to get a variety of colors and different brands to play with. The drawback is that since they are half sticks they aren't marked with their color code. If you want to replace them you have to take your stick to a place that sells open stock and match the colors. Or you can get a handmade color chart from dakotapastels.com