View Full Version : Seeking advice with choice of pastels

01-23-2003, 08:27 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this board and am looking forward to exchanging ideas, tips and opinions with other artists. Although I've been sketching with pencil since childhood, I've finally decided it's time to take the plunge and add some color to my work. I've chosen several mediums to dabble in: colored pencil, watercolors and pastels. I'd like to buy a moderate-sized set of pastels to start with, and would like some feedback of the different brands and why you prefer them.

I have about 36 oil pastels that came with an inexpensive assortment of artist's supplies (I can feel the cringing now...), but I don't really enjoy working with them. (From what I hear, you don't mix the oil pastels with the others...they are so much like crayons, I can see why.)

I also have a small assortment of Rembrandt soft pastels, and was thinking of adding a set of Prismacolor Nupastels to complement them. They are not as costly as some of the other brands, but as a beginner, this seems like a sensible route to take. Would appreciate your opinions on some of the better-known brands. Thanks in advance for your help!

01-23-2003, 09:39 PM
Hi Fern and welcome aboard.

I like the NuPastels. It's a rarity these days that you find something good and cheap.

I also like sennelier, and you can get more colors if you order half sticks, at least til you get used to them. They are a little on the pricier side, though.

I've never used Rembrandt, but there are a lot of people that say it's a good brand to start with, since it's somewhere between a hard and soft pastel.

More experienced folk here can give you better details. I know that there are some artists who are using NuPastels exclusively these days though.

- Greg

01-23-2003, 09:58 PM
Welcome to Pastels:D
If you have some Rembrandts and Nupastels, Id say you have a good medium set to start! Rembrandts are about middle of the chart on density and the Nupastels are on the Harder side!!
I suggest experimenting with several brands to see what you like best.
I always recommend surfing online to all the Art suppliers websites and requesting samples, alot will send you small pieces to try out. Also buy small sets, like the half stick sets or sample sets to try before investing into one brand!!
Once you find a particular brand of choice....shop around, and check Ebay!! Most of us on here have picked up GREAT deals from ebay!!:D

Last I would recommend sitting back and getting comfy and surfing the forums for tips and tricks;)
Good luck:D

Mikki Petersen
01-23-2003, 11:11 PM
Although I have a variety of different brands of soft pastel, I use mostly Rembrandt and Nupastels. Nupastels for blocking in and detail and rembrandt for everything else. I do use some of my softer pastels like Sennelier for highlighting and deepening darks at the end of the piece.

Mikki Petersen
01-23-2003, 11:12 PM
Ooops! I forgot to welcome you aboard. This is defintiely the place to learn and receive encouragement and support.

01-26-2003, 07:13 AM
The only way to find out which pastels work for you is to work with them. You may findyou enjoy hard rather than soft, or vice versa.

Just a couple of things to bear in mind.

The "support" you choose makes a big difference too. You can work on pastel paper, card, sandpaper, -there is a huge variety. I always advise my students to begin with a good quality pastel paper like Canson Mi-Teinte, in a neutral oyster or grey-blue colour. Working on white is very difficult indeed, and so many people do this at the beginning because they have had no-one advise them differently.

Another point - with pastels, in general terms it is best to work from dark to light. You begin with the darkest tones in the image, and gradually add medium tones, and build up until you finally put in the lightest areas and highlights.

With watercolours ABSOLUTELY THE OPPOSITE applies. You leave the white of the paper for the highlights and lightest areas; then you add in medium tones, and gradually build up to your darkest parts.

This can be really confusing for a beginner, and if no-one has warned you about it, don't be at all surprised if it feels very odd to switch from one medium to another ... this is usually the reason!

Finally ....If you work with watercolours, hate it and want to scrap a picture - don't. You can always work with pastels over the top and this often resurrects a failed image.

good luck, and have fun

01-26-2003, 07:30 PM
Many thanks to all who have responded so far with their pastel preferences and encouragement!

The information I've received has been very helpful and I appreciate all of you taking the time to share your experiences and guide a beginner.

I am looking forward to visiting the board often to learn as much as possible.