View Full Version : New to pastels

01-13-2003, 01:41 PM
Hi, folks! I just boughtmy first set of pastels today, and some Artagain paper by Strathmore to try them out. I also got a ... shaper? Can anyone reccommend some good books on portraiture, horses, and flowers. I know, I know...how typical, but I think I'd do best if I started with familiars. Thanks!

Also, is there a thread here that gives tips on getting started? Is it ok to do a drawing underneath with graphite to lay in the shapes?


01-13-2003, 02:48 PM
Welcome Suzy! You have come to a terrific place to learn all about pastels.
Try this link to a big list of threads with lots of wonderful relevant information.

I'm pretty new her myself and have just returned to art and pastels in particular so I think there are others better able to help you with specifics.
Take a look around and enjoy yourself.


01-13-2003, 04:07 PM
Thanks, Sandy! I found a lot of interesing information there. I'd still like to know about some technique books, though. Thanks!


01-13-2003, 04:25 PM
Jackie Simmonds' book, Pastel Workbook is very helpful. I know there are others but can't think of names right now.
You can get Jackie's book at Amazon:
See what other people come up with.
I'm glad you found the links useful. :)


01-13-2003, 04:33 PM
Thanks again! Amazon probably gets half it's business from me!;)

01-13-2003, 08:40 PM
Hiya Suzy and welcome :) didn't reply to this earlier cause I have NO idea what I'm doing with pastels ( or anything else either) hehe - so I'll watch how you go with interest :)

01-13-2003, 09:03 PM
Me too, Suzy... I know very little about pastels as well. I agree with Trish about learning along with you :) Welcome to WC! :)

01-13-2003, 09:07 PM
I cant vote on your pole suzy.... I dont like soft pastels :eek: .. and dont no nuffink about anything :D

01-13-2003, 09:48 PM
Hi Suzy and welcome to the pastel forum! :D Well let's see...I'll give you a rundown of what I'm currently using. The harder of my pastels are Nupastel....I like to use these either in the beginning stages of blocking in...or sometimes for an entire piece. I also use softer brands such as Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend, Unison, Great American, Schmincke and Sennelier.

On to books...well Jackie's Pastel Workbook is a fabulous selection (I've done lots of the exercises from her book), along with Bill Creevy's the Pastel Book. You just need to go out to either one of your local bookstores and peruse the art aisle for pastel books (another of my absolute favorite pasttimes) or check out one of the big online places like Amazon.com.

I'll look forward to seeing some of your work and getting to know you! :D

01-13-2003, 10:31 PM
Hi Suzy, my favourites aren't listed there. They are Rembrandt, Art Spectrum and the best of all (and very expensive) are my Schminke (?spelling) - very expensive though and I only have a few to use as final touches.

The pastel pencils I love the most are Stabilo CarbOthello.

Books - Jackie Simmonds also has some good ones on flowers, also some very good videos.

All the very best, and enjoy your journey with pastels:)

Mikki Petersen
01-14-2003, 01:19 AM
I cannot post a reply to your poll either. Prismacolor Nupastels much in the same way Karen does. Then I move to my Rembrandts (my ol' faithfuls) and finish up with highlights and deep shadows with Senneliers and American Artworks. I find Schminke's too soft and crumbly. Windsor Newtons were not as soft but tend to crumble badly making a mess on my painting. Grumbacher I cannot find so do not know.

As for books, I found "Painting Expressive Pastel Portraits" by Paul Leveille to be very informative on use of colors. "Painting Animals That Touch The Heart" by Leslie Harrison is not for pastellists specifically but has general tips that work for any medium.

Welcome aboard! Enjoy the journey!

01-14-2003, 05:47 AM
Well, having seen my name repeated in this thread, I thought I'd chip in here!

You are welcome to contact me for info. Have a look at my website about the books and videos ( www.jackiesimmonds.co.uk) . There is a bit of basic info on the site too. Somewhere in these threads, not sure how you access it, I did offer a beginners step-by-step, which you might find helpful. Perhaps you could go to my profile, and look for threads I have started.

Dont use graphite for the drawing part of a pastel work ... it rejects pastel marks. Best to use either charcoal, or a pastel pencil, if you intend to draw first.

Lots of people will tell you to start with hard pastels, and move gradually into soft pastels (on the same painting). For years and years I only ever used soft pastels, never bothered with the hard ones. I found I could get more than enough detail with the soft pastels. My favourite brands are Unison and Schminke and I also buy Rowney when I can find them. Buy quality - cheap pastels tend to be scratchy.

have fun, that's the main thing! Be prepared to do a couple of full sheets of pastel paper, covered in marks, not things, just marks. Work with the point of the pastel (the edge), and the side too. Press hard. Press lightly. Put one colour over another. Use lines, dots, scribbles, lines over lines, blend with fingers, blend with tissues, take pastel off with a putty rubber, work with dots and lines over blended areas .........keep going, trying out as many different ideas as you can think of. After two large sheets of this, you will have picked up SO MUCH about technique. THEN, and only then, start to work with objects ...vegetables, fruits, flowers, plants, jugs, cats, etc.

Buy pastel paper in neutral colours, but also treat yourself to a sheet of black, and compare results.


01-14-2003, 07:00 AM
Welcome Suzy!

My favorite pastels -- hard to really say -- but maybe the Unison and Terry Ludwig. But having said that, I use a lot of different brands for the varying differences in each one. Nupastels, Rembrandts, Sennelier, Schminke, Great American are all good pastels. Each person has their own hand pressure and so different pastels perform differently for each of them! Try as many different brands as possible is the best advice I would give you.

And regarding the books -- don't forget to look at any of the books by Carol Katchen -- she has the most incredible way of saying something. She teaches you to be inspired, be expressive, be bold, along with technical aspects of using the pastel and paper!

But, don't just stick to pastel books. Books about oil painting, especially, seem to have much to impart to us pastel artists, too! Principles are the same no matter what medium you use. I have art books in all the different mediums and gain knowledge from each of them at one time or another.

Good luck, and be sure to post some of your results.

01-14-2003, 08:45 AM
Hi Suzy!

I'm new to pastels too (got my first box in September) but I thought I'd share a couple of books I really enjoyed, both by Carole Katchen:

Creative Painting With Pastel is a showcase of what you can acheive with this medium, from amazing photorealism to expressive, looser styles, featuring works by a great number of pastel artists.

Express Yourself With Pastel shows Katchen's own techniques, which are slightly unorthodox but very inspiring (unless photorealism is your single goal).

Good luck, and tell us what you get!


01-14-2003, 08:53 AM
Welcome to pastels I'm sure you'll have some fun with them. Word of warning, they are addictive!!

As mentioned before, you'll get plenty of great advice here. Jackie is well worth taking note of. she's got loads of knowledge and experience.

If you like, you can check out:


This site has various demos and hints and tips.

Look forward to seeing your work in here.

01-14-2003, 09:08 AM
Hi I voted for Grumbacher, since that was my first set and always liked them, but can't find anymore. Think they stopped making pastels. I use Rembrandt, Sennelier, Schminke & Windsor Newton along with a few NuPastels.

There's an old book worth reading by Daniel Greene, "Pastel - A Comprehensive Guide to Pastel Painting". A new book that is fun by Harley Brown "Harley Brown's eternal truths for every artist" and Chris Saper's book on skintones is another good book, also Albert Handell's book "Painting the Landscape in Pastel".

01-14-2003, 11:03 AM
Thank you to everyone! There's so much information in these replies, from books to websites to technical tips, that I think I can finally get started! Thank you all so much. I will be searching for some of the other threads mentioned, and looking at the web sites to see what I can learn. I appreciate all your candid comments and the warm welcome I have received. I hope to post something soon...but I'm going to do my two full sheets of learning technique first!

Thank you all again!