View Full Version : What do you think about Richeson Handmade Pastels?

08-19-2010, 01:14 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm thinking about buying a set of the Jack Richeson Handmade Pastels. I've done a search on this forum, and found just a few references about them, so I thought I would pose the question formally. (I have seen info about the semi-hard ones, and the reviews on them weren't so nice.)

Do you have any of these handmade pastels, and if so, how do you like them? What brand would you say they are comparable to?

The colors look quite nice, and a little unique, so I'm thinking I might want them. Thanks so much.

08-19-2010, 05:01 PM
Hi Chris!

I was quite taken with the sets Richeson offers. I was actually planning on getting the hard set instead of my Faber-Castells when I visited Dakota in June.

I got to meet the owner of Dakota, and I asked him why the Richesons weren't included in the 17-piece sampler that Dakota offers. He said that Richeson does not offer open stock! And so that means if you run out of a pastel, you have to order a set.

Overall, the underlying vibe I got was that he was not much impressed with Richeson and was vaguely discouraging me getting it. I don't want to put words in his mouth because that wouldn't be fair. Aside from the comment about no open stock and another comment about the limited number of pastels in the line--which, he said, couldn't really be counted as a full line--he said little about them--but now thinking, he also mentioned that they didn't sell well and I do think he mentioned people being unhappy with them in the past. At that point, I didn't probe further and turned my attention to all the other scrumptious pastels surrounding me.

I know that I was specifically looking at the hard pastels, but I did ask about the soft ones as well, and the above conversation covered both. However, I have not so much as touched one, so this is all sort of hearsay, I guess. Don't know if it helps, but it is the only thing I have to share--

ooooh! I also remember something else he said: he said they had a "wierd texture." I said, "You mean like Townsends? Because they sort of have a weird texture." And he said, "no that's pumice. That's different." I think then what he said is that they use some kind of filler, more so than most of the luxury brands which are mostly pigment. That is what I remember.

I also recall--I'm pretty sure it's Paula? Paula Ford?--loving them, and comparing their consistency to "whipped butter". :)

08-19-2010, 05:29 PM
Hey Ann-Marie,

Thanks so much for your input. I do remember Paula mentioning somewhere that she loves them, and puts them second to her favorite Mount Visions. I'm hoping she sees this and weighs in.

Dick Blick does sell the Richeson handmade soft pastels as open stock. You can buy any one of them for $2.49 each, I think. I just might give them a call and see if they would send me a sample or two, to see if I like them.

I've heard some unsavory remarks about their hard pastels, but I think I remember hearing some good things about the handmade ones. I'm on the fence about it, so I'm hoping to get some more input. I have a pretty good stock of pastels, so I'm considering these because the colors look unusual, and might be nice in landscapes. I'm not worried so much about their selection being limited, I have a pretty good range of colors already. I just thought the colors were interesting. Hmm....., we'll just have to see if anyone else chimes in here.

Thank you so much! And, I'm jealous that you were able to visit Dakota's store, I'm so far away that I'm sure I'll never get there. But, there's always online!

08-19-2010, 07:04 PM
Hey Chris!

Well, that's strange. I wonder why he told me that? It makes a HUGE difference if you are able to get open stock . . . .

hmmmm . . .

I dream of having a good, solid color range. Not quite there yet! It's funny how very many colors pastellists have/need. I am quite satisfied with 60 watercolor tubes, so I'm not usually super consumeristic about art supplies, but pastels are different . . . can't just mix up a good dark purple or nice bright orange! I opened my Salmagundi. Lots of good colors but the set is not going to fill the holes that I had hoped.

Visiting Dakota was fantastic! They were so nice and let me back into the warehouse and showed me everything I asked to see. Super patient, super nice, super people.

Lisa Fiore
08-19-2010, 07:38 PM
I read somewhere that Richeson pastels are manufactured in China, but I'm unable to find the article now to link. I'm suspicious of Chinese-made products after so many horror stories with dog food, toothpaste, drywall, etc and try to avoid them where possible. I actually came very close to purchasing a full set of the hard Richeson pastels until I read that they were made in China, and I went with the polychromos instead...

08-19-2010, 07:41 PM

Hmm....... Thanks so much for the info. I think I may be leaning more towards more Ludwigs at this point, I do love them so. We do need to be concerned about what is in the products we use, especially when we are touching them so much. Ludwigs are so beautiful.......

Thanks again for your time!

WC Lee
08-19-2010, 07:55 PM
I personally am not impressed with the Richeson handmade pastels. They are soft but more of a powdery soft than creamy soft, kind of hard to describe but I agree, they do have a weird texture, they aren't like any brand I have or tried. I would be hesitant to recommend this brand and for the price, I would rather pay a little bit more and get the Mount Visions.

Anne-Marie, I think you should reconsider taking another look at Art Spectrum, I think the one you got might have been a fluke being hard and scratchy. They are probably the best out of all the medium soft brands and though they have a smaller number of pastels in their full line than any other brand, they do offer a full range of colors.

Actually, pastelist don't really need that many colors, we just love the way they look nested together in the box :D I am constantly adding new sticks to my collection even though I probably have enough to last me the rest of my life (The full set of Art Spectrum and almost 2 full sets of Mount Visions alone will last me quite a while).

08-19-2010, 09:12 PM
Chris, just so you know: in my package today from Ludwig was a letter stating that they have changed the source of their pigments and have reformulated their color recipes. They say that they have noticed some minor shifting in some colors. The minor shifting of colors isn't an issue for me. However, with my Maggie Price set--which I bought shortly after you got your Plein Air--I would say all of the pastels pretty much have the same consistency, i.e. very soft. A couple of the extreme darks seemed more "fragile" than the rest, but they were still definitely very soft.

With the Salmagundi set, it appears that a good third or more of the pastels are what I would classify as "very hard". Like, two of them were so hard and scratchy that it was only with a great deal of effort that I could scratch some pigment out of them (this was a green and a red). About a third are definitely the same soft consistency as Maggie Price--I can tell immediately upon picking them up--and the remaining third don't seem to be as creamy as the Maggie Price set and creamy third, but are still definitely soft--softer than Unisons, for instance.

I don't know if the hardness in some of the colors is due to the reformulation, or if I was just lucky with the Maggie Price set, or if the Ludwigs have a general inconsistency in texture. I suspect it's the reformulation. I also don't know if the recent sale on the landscape sets is because those are the sets that are affected.

To be perfectly honest, I would wait on the Ludwigs. Had I gotten a Ludwig in my Dakota pastel sampler like the scratchy awful ones in this set, I would never have considered them. Maybe W.C. Lee is right: maybe I should give AS another chance!

08-19-2010, 10:43 PM

More food for thought here. I think I am going to tread carefully, like you suggest. I don't have a pressing need for anything, just this awful addiction that I feel I need to answer to :lol: ! Now I'm really not sure what I want to do, which is okay, better than making an expensive mistake!

I definitely think you should rethink the Art Spectrum line. I really like them. I just may add to what I have, as their colors are really nice. The size of the stick is generous too.

Maybe Mount Visions is what I should be looking at also. I have quite a few, and I'm really happy with them. Maybe there are some more colors that I could use.

I'm sorry the Salmagundi set was a disappointment to you. I wonder if it would be worth your calling Terry and explaining your problems. My Plein Aire set really is great. I'm not disappointed at all, and the consistency of the pastels is the same throughout the set. I would think that is what you want when you buy a set of pastels.

WC Lee,

Thank you for your input. I think I will not be purchasing the Richesons, they don't sound at all like what I would like. I do have quite a bit of Mount Visions, which I truly love. Maybe I will add to that collection :D .

08-19-2010, 10:55 PM
Hi Chris--

Yeah. . . I'm sort of at a loss, to tell you the truth. I don't know what to do. I can appreciate the trials of a relatively small business and want to support small businesses. I also feel indebted to them because they did cheerfully replace five pastels that would be duplicates with the Price set with ones they let me select. (And all those are soft ones! Yay!) At the same time . . . I don't know. I do think that I will call them regarding the two very hard pastels, because those seem to be completely out of range in terms of Ludwigs. That seems like a reasonable middle ground, vs. asking to return the whole thing or not saying anything at all.

08-19-2010, 11:12 PM

Or at least tell them which ones are really hard and scratchy, maybe it is a problem they don't know about. They might be willing to replace them with pastels that are like the ones they have a reputation of making. I would think they want you to be happy. They know about Wet Canvas, and how much we all talk about pastels. Ludwigs are known to be one of the best, with great customer service, and I'm sure they don't want that to change. Not that you would say anything bad about them, I just think maybe you should give them a chance to make good on it. You just might be surprised, and they might even appreciate it. Think about it.

08-20-2010, 12:34 AM
Thanks, Chris. I will think about and consider your good advice. :)

I am in the middle of making my regular chart right now. I'm using Wallis paper. I'm feeling better. I haven't gotten to the problemmatic green (which was the worst) but the red, though fragile, did take to the Wallis. You gotta love that Wallis, it just never ceases to amaze me. :)

I think I will call and talk to them tomorrow because it's possible, if this is a new thing, that they don't realize the extent of the texture variance. At this point, with the exception of the one green, I'm okay with the set. There are some nice brights and some nice neutrals. As soon as I actually start painting with it (and I have a few ideas of what I want to do next:) ) I am sure I'll be able to put this initial dismay behind me. It probably wasn't fair to initially judge them based on rubbing them on computer paper.

Paula Ford
08-20-2010, 02:21 AM
I absolutely LOVE them and have a full set!!!

I can describe them like this:
Schmincke = butter
Jack Richeson Handmade = whipped butter

08-20-2010, 03:13 AM
I absolutely LOVE them and have a full set!!!

I can describe them like this:
Schmincke = butter
Jack Richeson Handmade = whipped butter

See? ;) :lol: (Note to Paula: I told Chris: Paula loves them and says they are like "whipped butter")

Paula Ford
08-20-2010, 04:44 AM

08-20-2010, 11:51 AM
I just bought four Richeson handmade pastels at an art store here in Mpls. Don't know the name of the store but they only had them i open stock. I haven't tried them yet though. but they are not as heavy as you would think given their size so i can understand the description of whipped butter!


08-20-2010, 01:24 PM
Yep, what she said, "whipped butter" :lol: ! Thanks for stepping in Paula!

08-21-2010, 04:07 PM
I purchased a 24 piece set of extra softs and they really are soft, to the point many times they crumble on use. But this happens with Sennelier all the time. My problem is colors. Richeson has beautiful colors, but my palette is heavy on bold deep colors which Richeson does not have. That's why i prefer (and love) Ludwigs and Unison.

08-21-2010, 06:45 PM
I purchased a 24 piece set of extra softs and they really are soft, to the point many times they crumble on use. But this happens with Sennelier all the time. My problem is colors. Richeson has beautiful colors, but my palette is heavy on bold deep colors which Richeson does not have. That's why i prefer (and love) Ludwigs and Unison.

Hi Annette,

Yes, two of my favorites are Ludwigs and Unison also. I think I'm leaning towards more Ludwigs at this point, based on the feedback I'm getting. Thanks so much for your input!

Maggie P
08-22-2010, 02:42 PM
I like the Richeson pastels. I like the size and the texture and I think they're a good value for the money. As far as colors, I particularly like some of the blues. I'm glad to know about the single stick availability as I'm using up those blues.

Ludwigs and Unison are among my favorites but really, I like so many of the pastels on the market today. I don't think I could ever be happy limiting myself to only one or two (or five or six) brands. There's something I like about all of them and I like being able to pick exactly the right color and texture from my selection.

08-22-2010, 03:49 PM
Hi Maggie!

Thanks for stopping by and weighing in. I do agree with you, you just cannot have too many different types of pastels. They all have something different to offer, and they are so much fun to use! There are many brands that I enjoy, and I was looking to expand on my 'collection'. I'm still thinking this over..... but now am leaning towards the Ludwig Southeastern Landscape 60 piece set, or your 60 piece values set. I already have the Intense Darks II set and the 60pce Plein Aire Landscape. I'm trying not to duplicate colors, and I may have to ask the Ludwig Co. directly if they would pull out some colors and replace with some I don't have. I will keep you posted!:thumbsup:

08-22-2010, 08:45 PM
I had never heard of Richeson Handmade pastels until I saw them for sale, open stock, at an art store in Tucson this past winter. They are the size of Mt. Visions, and they are made in China. However, they also say non-toxic on the label, so I'm not worried (they seem to focus putting known toxins into children's toys, pet food and baby formula :rolleyes: ...none of which I buy).

I really like those that I've bought. I find them similar to Mt. Visions, but perhaps a bit smoother?

I bought some earth tones, rose-peach colors and turquoises to help fill out my collection a bit, and I use them a lot.

I'll buy more as I see the need for individual colors. Another interesting thing about them: they seem to do better than almost any other brand on papers with no tooth. I sometimes use Strathmore Artagain paper, and if you're not familiar with it, it's a black paper made for pastels/charcoal. It has as much tooth as construction paper (that is, none :lol: ). They work like a dream on it, whereas I can't get most Senneliers to lay down a stroke of pastel on that paper and stick.

Here is an example (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0S-jsbRcfBY/S7-4XZK1saI/AAAAAAAAIlw/vqGf1douTPs/s1600/towards_mustang_mountains.JPG) of both the paper and the Richesons - I used them for the blue-gray base of the mountains and the brown middle ground and the peachy-brown of the foreground grasses.

I'd say buy 1-2 and give them a try. You might like them and you won't know until you try them yourself. If they don't work, you're not out a lot of $$. If you like them, they are a great value :).

08-22-2010, 11:04 PM
Hey Sonya,

Thanks a lot for all the info. I appreciate it! Nice painting, btw!

08-22-2010, 11:26 PM
WOW Sonya! Super pretty painting. Love the treatment of the mountains.