View Full Version : Alphacolor Soft Pastels - worth buying?

08-22-2010, 07:30 PM
Blick is having a decent deal on Alphacolor. I haven't seen them rated or discussed on here in other forums.

Anyone have experience with them? Love to know if they are worth buying, what set you might recommend, and how soft they are in comparison to others.

Here's the link to the sale:

Thanks, Dave

Deborah Secor
08-22-2010, 07:41 PM
Mmmmmm, not so much. If you have kids and want to introduce them to pastels, use these. They have far more binder than actual pigment, but they still remain soft. For instance, the gorgeous magenta looks so lush, but when you use it it's a wimpy color--as are they all. I don't know what they fill these with, but they're definitely a good classroom material, not fine art media. Now, having said that, I've had more than one beginning student use them and combined with 'meatier' pastels, they might have their place. But I'd save my money and buy professional grade pastels instead. Just MHO!

08-22-2010, 08:00 PM
Exactly the response I was looking for Deborah. You're a Godsend.

I loaded the cart with a 96 set of NuPastel half-sticks (for hard), then an 80 set of Sennelier (for soft).

I also bought some Terry Ludwigs that were on sale as posted here previously. So, lots of new toys! This will be fun, considering I've only used the 30-color student grade by Blick up to this point.

THANKS again, Dave

Deborah Secor
08-22-2010, 08:16 PM
Have a blast!

08-22-2010, 08:20 PM
Dave I agree with Deborah with one precaution. I'm not so sure I'd give them to children either. I know of one pastelist who got a set of Alphacolors as an award in a local competition. When he opened the box he had an immediate allergic reaction to them! He is hypersensitive to preservatives. I know some children do too so I would hesitate to introduce them to anyone without knowing there medical history.

I think NuPastels would be a safer product for kids.


08-22-2010, 08:40 PM
They are student grade, and as we've clearly seen from your posts, you are more than ready for professional artist grade pastels.


08-22-2010, 09:31 PM
and i recommend avoid non goodly know brands even with childrens. and even goodly know brands avoid some colours which ones i sure you know what i mean. goodly know means we know used pigments etc.

08-22-2010, 09:33 PM
Don that's a super compliment coming from someone like you. Very much encouraged by that remark...

Headed to a couple workshops with Michael Chesley Johnson next month; so hopefully will jump onto a higher plateau. Certainly, equipping with better tools like decent pastel won't hurt!

Tks everyone for steering me in the right direction, Dave

08-22-2010, 09:33 PM
They are student grade, and as we've clearly seen from your posts, you are more than ready for professional artist grade pastels.


actually i think none must use student grade only expection is money things. what i itself solved i buy good but less... works even pastels i almost fully sure...

08-22-2010, 10:00 PM
Glad to see you didn't go for the Alphacolors. I used to have a box of them years ago when I was doing street portraits and didn't know the difference between student grade and artist grade. I found out fast when I got 30 assorted Grumbachers that the Alphacolors didn't handle well. I remember dragging it with me and then not using it so many times, because even if it had the right color it wouldn't do what the Grumbachers did.

Blick's house brand student grade is cheaper if all you want them for is to draw on pavement and other ephemeral uses. Glad you got Senneliers instead, those are good and a lot of fun. If you got the 80 half stick set assorted, it's a good set, I got it a couple of years ago.

08-23-2010, 12:14 PM
Thank you, Robert.

Funny, I've been using the Blick student set of 30 colors and --yes.... sometimes it does feel like drawing on pavement, even with ColourFix paper.

What is the old saying? "You can put pretty paint on a pig, but, it's still a pig." LOL

I ordered the Sen. 80 half stick set, so nice to hear you are pleased with them.

08-23-2010, 04:03 PM
i was given a 48 pc Alpha set and find them useful once in awhile on paper to tone and block/dryblend as an underpaint w fixative
very powdery and doesn't marry well with true soft pastels
no fading issues up to now

don't have any other student grade sticks, but am curious what's offered and how it behaves/utility

sounds like you made the informed choice :)

:} Ed

08-23-2010, 07:26 PM
Dave, you'll love your 80-pc. set of Senneliers. They are a good range of colors, and unlike many of their full sticks, they don't crumble :). Lots of nice brights and many excellent earth/neutral tones as well. I'm actually considering buying the 120 pc. 1/2 stick set to use as a dedicated plein air set.

BTW, the Nupastels are great - I bought a barely used set on eBay and I love them. I see them get occasionally dissed on here, re lightfastness, but only 1-3 colors seem to have this issue, and it's minor at best. At least this was based on leaving my 96-pc. set out in a south-facing windowsill for almost 4 months in AZ this past winter, just to find out for myself if the concern about lightfastness was warranted. It pretty much wasn't :wink2: .

Have fun at your workshop!

10-15-2018, 05:10 PM
I just came across this old thread. I mostly use my Sennelier, Jack Richeson, Rembrandt, and Diane Townsend pastels, but I had a small set of some REALLY old Alphacolor pastels and about three of the colors were absolutely fantastic. I'd LOVE to get another set exactly like these (for those three fabulous sticks), but I wonder if these were better quality 30+ years ago when I bought them.

Are the new sets completely lousy and have they changed their formulas?

Thanks for any info!

10-16-2018, 04:04 PM
Idk about the old ones... I had a pastel fascination in high school and I used the alphacolors because that's what was around... and I remember fighting with them a whole lot. If I had a professional set back then......... that would have been so amazing... thank goodness those alphacolors didn't take away my stubborn pastel fascination!

Ok, it wasn't quite 30 years ago but it *was* last century! :lol:
So I don't think old ones are any good either. Look on ebay though, you might find an old set there.