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jesusRIGsinker
07-01-2010, 04:56 PM
Hi everyone!
I'm a beginner with soft pastels. I just bought a half-stick 30 piece
set of rembrant's soft pastels, and I want to know what experience have you guys had with Rembrant's? Do you recommend any other brands? If so can you tell me your experience with other brands? Also I was wondering if anyone uses ultra matte medium from liquitex as a ground for pastels? If not, what grounds/primers do you recommend for layering and to keep the pastel from smudging? I would appreciate any advice. Thank you!

Colorix
07-01-2010, 05:38 PM
A warm welcome to WetCanvas!

The Rembrandt pastels are a medium hard pastel of professional quality, and it is factory made. As with every brand, some like it, and some don't. They're good enough that award winning pastel painters use them.

There are several good primers, including making your own. You can find lots of info on pastel brands, papers, and other things by doing a “search this forum”, in any forum, as there is lots of information buried in the mass of posts.

Do browse around in the forums, there are all sorts of great things going on, both for your chosen medium and for subjects.

You can access any Forum by using the “Forum Jump” located at the bottom right of the screen, and within forums there is often sub-forums, and very useful “stickied” threads at the top of the first page of every forum and subforum.

Enjoy the site and all the wonderful people on it,

Charlie

jesusRIGsinker
07-01-2010, 05:48 PM
thanks for the help Colorfix! I will continue to search through Pastels forums! Much appreciated!

Nansketch
07-01-2010, 08:00 PM
Welcome to the pastel forum, you will find a lot of great information and helpful people here. I started with rembrandts and still use them along with some others that I've added to my collection. I've tried a variety of surfaces, everyone seems to have a favorite. I like colourfix paper but they make a brush on ground that many have written about.

Will look forward to seeing what you try.
Nancy

DAK723
07-01-2010, 11:45 PM
Welcome!

Rembrandts are an excellent brand to start with. And quite honestly, it will be good to do a few pastels before you start thinking of expanding your collection. There are at least 17 brands for sale at Dakota pastel, so it can get confusing and overwhelming! Many pastellists will expand by getting pastels that are very soft and also getting some that are harder. All the varying softnesses have their uses and advantages, but in many cases, the mid-soft pastels (like Rembrandt) are the best overall choice.

When you are ready to start looking at getting more, I would recommend getting some samples of the different brands, rather than spending money on a brand that you might not like. Dakota pastels has samples of both pastels and papers on their website, as well as a list of pastels by softness and pictures of the different brands. Here's a link:

http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/index-softpastels.aspx

Fine Art Store also sells sample packs and has many different brands, too.

http://www.fineartstore.com/Catalog/tabid/365/CategoryID/4159/List/1/Level/a/Default.aspx?SortField=UnitCost,UnitCost

There are also many older threads about materials found in our Materials sub-forum. These forums are now locked and you can't post to them, but there is lots of information here:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=442

Have fun!

Don

Anne-Marie
07-02-2010, 12:51 AM
Hi! Welcome!

I'm new to pastels, too! Well, I've started a couple times but abandoned it both times pretty much immediately, in part because I never really let myself buy enough pastels to make it fun, and got frustrated. (I bought about 30 pastels). I think it's great that you bought a set from Rembrandt. 50 is a good starter amount, I think, especially if they are colors you like and feel inspired to use!

I myself don't like Rembrandts; I have about 6 or so, and find they scratch the page. However, I recently bought a "pastel sampler" from Dakota, and the Rembrandt behaved very well and I was impressed. The other Rembrandts I have are from my 5-pastel first attempt back in '90, lol. Maybe they are just too old to be any good.

I really recommend that you get the sampler from FineArts or Dakota. You really can't know what you are going to like until you try the field and see what is a good fit for you. I like Unisons, Terry Ludwig (but it took getting used to!) Mount Visions (likewise), and Great Americans (likewise!) Schminke is supposed to be the cadillac of pastels but I wasn't impressed, truth be told, especially for the $$. For hard pastels, I much prefer Faber-Castell over the more traditional Nu Pastel.

But you will find what works for you. As for paper, I also bought a paper sampler from Dakota and agree with many here that the Wallis paper is very nice indeed. I also like the velour paper for a soft, out-of-focus affect.

Good luck to you and enjoy your new set of Rembrants!

Studio-1-F
07-02-2010, 11:20 AM
Also I was wondering if anyone uses ultra matte medium from liquitex as a ground for pastels? If not, what grounds/primers do you recommend for layering and to keep the pastel from smudging? I would appreciate any advice. Thank you!
I have not tried Liquitex Ultra Matte Medium as a ground. (Gee! Need to!) I have used these grounds:
-- Golden Fiber Paste
-- Golden Coarse Molding Paste
-- Golden Light Molding Paste
-- Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels
-- Art Spectrum's Colourfix Primer
I like the Colourfix primer, in Clear, the best of all of them. I use it on top of everything, including encaustic.

I did try the clear Colourfix primer once, necessarily applied with a brush, on top of pastels, in theory for layering, but all it did was make a big sloppy gloppy mess of the underlying pastels. Did NOT work. For layering I use spray-on fixative.

I have tried fixatives from Krylon, Sennelier, Lascaux, and SpectraFix and I like the SpectraFix best. It works as well (or better) than the others, but is "non-toxic", plus the pump spray is easier for me to control (than the aerosol), and it smells okay.

In my experience, however, no decent "fixative" is going to totally 100% absolutely keep the pastels from smudging at all. Smudging is just part of the deal here as far as I can see.

If you really want to totally seal your pastel layer, I believe you need to look into spray-on sealers, such as varnish, shellac, or "glazes" (http://www.dickblick.com/categories/finishes/). I have not tried them. However, I have heard that they may change the look of the underlying pastel quite a bit. Darken it. So be sure to experiment with this technique before you deploy.

Hope this helps.

Jan

jesusRIGsinker
07-02-2010, 03:08 PM
Thanks everyone! I appreciate your help especially since I'm a beginner, (I usually work with acrylic) so the advice really helps. :)

-- Golden Fiber Paste
-- Golden Coarse Molding Paste
-- Golden Light Molding Paste
-- Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels
-- Art Spectrum's Colourfix Primer
I like the Colourfix primer, in Clear, the best of all of them. I use it on top of everything, including encaustic.

to Jan
what exactly do you mean buy it works the best of all of them? You mean holds the most pastel layers? And how about the SpectraFix? does it change the pastel color the least or reduce smudging the least?:confused:

Studio-1-F
07-02-2010, 04:00 PM
to Jan
what exactly do you mean buy it works the best of all of them? You mean holds the most pastel layers? And how about the SpectraFix? does it change the pastel color the least or reduce smudging the least?:confused:
I just like these two the best.

The SpectraFix works as well (or better) than the others, but I like it best because it's "non-toxic", the pump spray is easier for me to control (than the aerosol), and it smells okay. It does not change the pastel color. It reduces smudging about as well as the other "workable" (as opposed to "final") fixatives, IMO. McKinley on SpectraFix here. (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/SearchView.aspx?q=spectrafix)

I like the Colourfix the best of all the primers because it comes in Clear -- which means that I can use it over colored ground -- and because the resulting texture suits my needs the best. I never tested to see how many layers of pastel any of those primers would hold, including Colourfix. If I were to guess, I'd say the Fiber Paste would hold the most layers. If that is an important criterium. (More on Colourfix here (http://jan777.blogspot.com/2009/12/eight-adaptable-pastel-supports.html).)

I am sorry, jesusRIGsinker, that I didn't include more detail earlier!

Don't forget that you can do an "Advanced Search" here in this sub-forum for more opinions on these products. See below for a sample search.

Jan

++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Jul-2010/12504-spectra.jpg

jesusRIGsinker
07-02-2010, 04:19 PM
thanks so much Jan for all the help. But I have a tip for you, if your ever run out of final fixative you can spray a few mists of water which helped my works a lot. it does darken the work but dries pretty much back to normal. I guess the water mixes with the pastel and "soaks" into the paper or ground. The pastel is still very slightly blend able but I'd say that's a pretty good solution.

For making your own ground you can try mixing the primer you have already with some plaster( I had just found that out the other day) it works better than the ultra matte medium alone, you should give it a try!

Colorix
07-02-2010, 05:03 PM
There are a number of ways to fixate a work. (Btw Sennelier's pastel fixative, workable and final in one, has alcohol as the solvent, so it doesn't smell much, and almost nothing happens to the colours.)

Do a 'search this forum' for 'steam', a long thread with cool experiments. Seems a mist of water does the job as well. And then we have alcohol, thinner, and whatnot.

Charlie

jesusRIGsinker
07-02-2010, 05:16 PM
thanks again Colorfix for the advice on fixative and forums!

saramathewson
07-03-2010, 09:49 AM
When I first decided to try pastels i bought several small sets of various brands. At the time i didn't know about Dakota or Fine art store. I bought an art spectrum set, mount vision darks (forgot i have that dark set) blockx grays, great American north american landscape, hmmmm I think that is it for starters. My fav's were always the great americans. But I have always liked the softer pastel. Scmincke makes the softest but Great American is right up there with them and cheaper! I like Art Spectrum much better than Rembrandt. they have a better texture to me. I didn't appreciate the mount visions until I really got into pastels about 3 years ago. I have lots more now and love them. i also love Terry Ludwigs. I think I have the most of them.
But I still have quite a variety and have bought some schminckes and senneliers which i didn't like atr first(senneliers) but really like them now. funny how our tastes cahnge over the years. I also love girault although at this time I only have a handful of them.

As far as pastel grounds go, I love the colorfix clear, and liquitex clear gesso is a nice ground too straight out of the bottle. I also mix golden fine pumice gel with extra pumice and a little water to make a smoother ground. I usually color this with acrylics but also have createx colors to use.

Food for thought. i think the Dakota or fine art store sampler sets of pastels and papers are a good way to go. When i started I also bought a pad of wallis, some colorfix, and some canson(a pad) to try out those surfaces. Wallis was my favorite at the time. Now I have tried others and i love several different papers. I love La Carte, but you can not get it wet!

Sara

noctilio
07-03-2010, 08:29 PM
I too am new to pastels and also to the wetcanvas website, but I was wondering if all pastel brands are compatable with each other. My collection includes a mixture of Rembrandt, Sennelier, Nu pastels, and some old Alpha colors and Devoe. I also have a collection of Conte and Pitt pencils.

Colorix
07-04-2010, 06:55 AM
Hi Noctilio, welcome! Yes, you can mix brands wildly, but they are not identical. For example, a Sennelier will usually deposit more pastel dust than a Rembrandt will. That means that it is usually easier to put Sennelier strokes on top of Rembrandt strokes, especially when the grain of the paper is full. On the other hand, the Rembrandts work great as a 'glaze' on top of Sennelier strokes.

It is basically only acrylics that are followed by a recommendation to be of the same brand, as the chemistry of acrylics is complicated, and different brands *may* not be compatible. Oils, watercolours, and pastels are not sensitive in that way. (Well, they all have their peculiarities, but mainly, brands *are* compatible.)

Charlie

sketchZ1ol
07-04-2010, 03:51 PM
hello

there are two key issues here:

the character of the painting material
the character of the substrate (surface you're painting on)

my suggestion is to get good quality charcoals of different characteristics = hard, medium, soft
and good quality paper = Strathmore 400 and Bristol Vellum, Canson Dessin, (and there are higher quality sheets - linen papers in general)

point is to get a sense of touch to memory of how the low impact dry media bahaves on the surface

then issues of colours/blending and such with dry media will be less intimidating

of course, you can jump in and out of that to the pastels at any time, but i guarantee it's accessible, instructive, and affordable

hard sticks, such as Nupastel have variety, and the better half sticks have good pigment = economical - with the softer pastels use gloves or a barrier creme (such as W&N Artguard {disclaimer-no association/$ to me}) because the sticks have no wrapper/barrier

hope that helps

:} Ed