View Full Version : Prismacolor, Rembrandt, and Rowneys

10-27-2008, 04:24 PM
Alright so I wanna try out soft pastels, good thing I have a decent art store near by with little pads to try out their open stock, so I know what "buttery" vs "Med Soft" feels like. Anyhow, I'm looking at Rembrandts, Rowney and Prismacolor Soft Pastels at the moment.

I know how to Rembrandts feel, but not so much the other two. I've read that Prismacolor's are the same formula as the old Grumbachers which were supposedly (according to dakotapastels old chart) slightly softer than Rembrandts, and Rowney even softer than those two. Where would you put these three on a rating of Soft to Hardness. Also, Prismacolors seem to be half sticks only, what are their dimensions? :thumbsup:

10-27-2008, 05:23 PM
i'd leave the prismas at the store, period! they fall apart, don't cover well, in general, i loathe them.

the rembts. can be a good workhorse type, and the rowneys are smaller, great for detail, not as buttery as say sennies but very nice. i have some of the rowneys and like them plenty.

Deborah Secor
10-27-2008, 06:37 PM
I agree with chewie. Ditch the Prismas. They're student grade pastels. They look good but when you use them they have no oomph. All show, no go.

The Rembrandts are medium-hard, falling more on the hard side, IMHO.

Rowneys are slightly softer then Rembrandts. I'd say medium.

If I were you I'd eventually look around for some real soft pastels, too! You'll be amazed. My students are often blown away when they've worked with Rembrandts or Nupastels and then I hand them a Great American or Ludwig! Softies are an important additional tool that work very differently than harder pastels.

Hope you enjoy the dust! :thumbsup:


10-27-2008, 07:52 PM
I've tried Sennelier at the store so I know what you mean by the difference. Though I thought they were almost too buttery for my taste, like they would just disintegrate in my hand. So I'm looking for something more in the medium range.

I'm wondering though... did the Prismacolor soft pastels end up being changed? I recall reading that the formula was bought from Grumbacher (which were supposed to be pretty soft) and used for them. Did Sanford end up finally just deciding to scrap the Grumbacher formula and did something completely different?

10-28-2008, 03:20 AM
Deborah, I have to add my testimonial to that. I thought Nupastels and Rembrandts were grand... until I got the Sennelier Blue Notes and found out what soft really was. I'm having a ball with my Senneliers.

They're not that pricy either. If you get three or more at a time they are only 2.16 each at Blick, which is only 17 cents more than the open stock Rembrandts on sale. I'm almost scared to try Schminke if the Schminke are really that much softer than the Sennies.

I'm only now beginning to realize that all my pastels are good each in their own way, and using them together is more powerful than sticking to one good brand. I used to dream of getting the giant full range Sennelier set, but now I'm happier to have a variety of hardness in a good range of colors. I'm trying one Terry Ludwig next month, because the assorted 80 color half stick Sennelier set has wonderful warm reds and a good magenta with a tint, but no cold purplish true red like Alizarin Crimson.

So I remembered everyone raving about the reds and purples in Ludwig and off to the list to pick out a cold red from the list in what looks to be a strong masstone. I also picked up a couple more Sennelier reds so if I guessed wrong based on the online charts, I've got three chances to have the shade of red I want or something near enough.

I also tried Sennelier iridescent white just to see if some iridescent effects could be fun in soft pastels. I like them in watercolor and acrylic and it might be neat to have shimmery tints or sparkly accents in white highlights.

10-28-2008, 12:46 PM
I agree about the prismacolors. They crumble, fall apart and just do not work well. I have some half stick senns and like them ok, but I still like the Terry Ludwigs and Great Americans better. Great American has a new half stick set for plein air painting. I'm very tempted! I tend to break my sticks in half anyway except for the Terry Ludwigs which are small to begin with. I do like the rembrandts that I have I bought a few at an art store in Las Cruces when we lived there for several months last year. I also bought a few Schminkes at the same time and I have hesitated to use them because they are soooo soft. The ends tend to break right off. they are definitely going to be used in the last stages of my paintings! I also like the Art Spectrum pastels, they are about the same hardness as the rembrandts. i like the colors better though. My 2 cents.


10-28-2008, 04:30 PM
:wave: Hi!

I'll add my opinion on the Prismas...not worth carrying home!:eek:

I started with a set of Rembrandts that I got early on. They are a good "fountation" set. They tend to be on the hard side, but still considered a "soft pastel". From that I have branched out with Great American Art Works, Terry Ludwig and some Unisons. My absolute favorites are the Terry Ludwigs!
You will find quite a variety of "favorites" among people who have worked with pastels, but most would agree that having a variety in the end is helpful.
I think you probably can't really tell by trying a few marks on a paper at the store. Buy a single stick of a variety and try them on the paper you will be using. See the different kinds of marks you can make and how they layer.
Another idea is to send to Dakota Pastels for one of their sample sets to try out.
But, do buy to the "artist" grade rather than the "student" grade!
Happy painting!

10-28-2008, 09:37 PM
Unless something has changed, the Prismacolors can only be purchased in sets, which, for me, would be a reason to eliminate them anyway. You want pastels that can be bought in open stock (individually) so that you can replace specific pastels as you need them. The fact that the Prismacolors are crumbly and poorly made (despite being the formulas - or at least, the colors of - the old Grumbachers - should eliminate them, also.

The fact that you have a store nearby and tried them (and liked them) should help you decide which to get. Both Rembrandts and Rowneys are good pastels.


10-28-2008, 11:07 PM
Humm bummer about the Prismacolors, it looked like a good set, evenly balanced. I guess I'll try out some of the Rembrandts probly a set of the 30 assorted halfsticks... the 60 set one seems to be held down with way more greens than I think I'll really need at the moment.

Why they can't just make a decent split primary/secondary set with a light med dark :\ Oh well.

10-30-2008, 04:23 PM
Alright well I should be having a set of the Rembrandt 30 halfsticks on the way soon, but reading through 1 or 2 books on pastels they seem to list Lefranc soft pastels. Doing a search on them the only thing I seem to be able to yield are Conte Soft Pastels... Which seem to come as crayons which is probly what I don't want, and which I've heard are harder. And something that actually on the box says "soft pastels". Anyone have any clue about those?