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Richard Barrere 12-20-2019 11:34 AM

Photos of pastel collections
So I was planning to go shop this weekend for a few sticks to help fill in my collection, and I thought it would be a great idea to take some photos of my collection so I can look at them in the art store to help me choose the colors I need. I thought it might be fun to share. I have an old set of metal drawers that help me keep things organized, but as you can see I'm not real fussy about grouping them all according to value. I separate them mainly into warm and cool versions of each color, but that's about it. Some strays wind up mixed in there, and they should definitely be cleaned at some point. Something for a rainy day. Take a minute to share your collection too, I would like to see how others do it.

Donna T 12-21-2019 09:01 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Wow, what a gorgeous collection, Richard! You have so many different brands and your system of storing them looks very practical. Thanks for sharing the photo. Mine are put away for now but I use a medium Heilman box for the most part. At the time, I thought it was a good choice and I still think it's a beautiful, well-made box but since I don't ever use it for travel I feel a little guilty for having it - except it does close up very conveniently for storage so maybe not too much guilt. :rolleyes:

franglais 12-21-2019 10:01 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Beautiful collection of pastels, Richard! Mine is not nearly so large yet, but I will keep the idea of the metal drawers in mind. Perhaps a chest actually designed to store tools.... but used for pastels, instead! Thanks for sharing!

Kiffin 12-21-2019 10:18 PM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
What a great collection Richard. I hope you have specified in your will who is to get them because I cannot see how you will live long enough to use them all.

Richard Barrere 12-22-2019 09:34 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Thanks all, but I was hoping to see other collections too! And yes, I admit I have more than I will ever use, but I have lots of fun refining it now. You notice I am lacking oranges in my workhorse section as well as my TL pastels, so I am currently working some deals to fix that. Just bought a set that contains some of those and I will sell off the rest. That's how I finance most of this btw, buying and selling. I keep only what I need and sell the rest. I find art supplies at flea markets and thrift stores an through local craigslist. I get a lot of enjoyment from it!

kcwhitney 12-23-2019 04:50 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
In the past, there have been a few posts with pictures of people's collections. Here are two you might appreciate:



clairmilanovich 12-29-2019 06:42 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
I am coming to pastels via color pencil and graphite -- I have this set which belonged to my mother. It is from the 1930s -- not very good to begin with, but if you even look at them now they crumble! Have just sold some of my pencils to buy an 80 count set of Sennelier half soft pastels. Should arrive tomorrow -- CANNOT WAIT!

AND re Richard's collection --
marvellous, absolutely marvellous BUT those are Hamilton typecases -- I once had 128 of them filled with wonderful lead typefaces until I had to sell the whole collection including presses, a guillotine, etc. to pay the taxes. One of the saddest days of my life -- it was a collection made over a 30 year period.


That's me -- the fp is Fairfax Press.


Richard Barrere 12-29-2019 08:23 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
I believe that is exactly what kind of unit I have here! I got it from where I work. We used it to keep film positives back in the screen printing days. It fell into disuse, and was taking up space so I volunteered to take it off their hands. Each drawer slides out if you want the whole tray. I think it is perfect for my use, but I realize they are hard to come by. I can't imagine having 30 of them! That truly must have been a sad day indeed. Glad you got through it and you are joining the ranks of the nutty pastellists. Beautiful old set you have to start your journey. Show us the Senneliers when you get them!

Tracy2000 12-29-2019 10:29 PM

Re: Photos of pastel collections

Tracy2000 12-30-2019 12:17 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
[This is the third time I’ve tried to post – for some reason, I managed to get the pics up (2nd try), but every time I WRITE content, WC pretends I’m not signed in and kicks me off. Getting more than a little frustrated (grump, grump).]

Richard, I love your pastel collection and your storage!

I’m new to soft pastels this year, but have spent more $$$ than I probably care to admit to myself! It is definitely an expensive medium to work in and a heck of a lot bigger challenge to handle on the storage front than watercolor!

I started with some half-stick collections from GA, Richeson, and Unison, as well as some samplers. I quickly got tired of trying to work from the boxes and since I prefer to work plein air anyway, I bought a pochade box first (Dakota). I struggled like many on the Heilman vs. Dakota front, but finances won out and I actually like the Dakota pochade box for portability (and there is something about taping the support inside a box type arrangement that doesn’t appeal to me so I like the way that is handled on the Dakota box). Most of those early pastels ended up in the pochade box along with some random Girault, some pieces of Nupastels, etc.

I finally reached a point where I figured I should focus on just a couple lines and settled on MVs for my “workhorse” pastel, Nupastels for some of the underpaintings, and TLs for…well….BECAUSE. As I started to collect the MVs and TLs I worked out of the original boxes at first, but realized that was just not going to work. I need to put my pastels away after a painting session because I have 3 curious cats, no dedicated studio room, and one of the cats has a penchant for consuming pigment (whether watercolor or possibly pastels – he started sniffing the boxes when I first got them so he KNOWS there are delicious pigments in there).

So…I opted for the large Dakota traveler box. My thought (feel free to laugh) is that I really DO want to contain my collection within the bounds of that box – it will be “storage” for indoor painting purposes, but will also be an expanded collection to take to workshops, maybe some plein air sessions, etc. I have an easel that will hold it alt! Alhough the easel is probably never going to be (for me) an every day plein air thing even though it’s a field easel because….holy cow, what a process to set it up or fold it back down! I’ll take the pochade box on a tripod mount any day. My “field easel” is now my permanent indoor easel.

I have found I prefer working with small pieces of pastels so this works well for my current plans. We’ll see how it holds up long term! I suspect I still think about color from a bit of a watercolor perspective because I struggled a bit with how to organize my 10 sections in the box. And the second section from the far right is mostly the MV Thunderstorm collection because while I forced myself to take them out of their box, I couldn’t make myself redistribute them any further – Northwest gray skies, right? Lol Mixing the TLs in with the other pastels was HARD – I only have two sets of 30 and the first set was the 30 Autumn Leaves collection and I took that set plein air painting multiple times in fall and loved it. But…I don’t really want to go out plein air painting with half a dozen boxes so….. I also have a set of the TL darks and I found I do NOT need all of those in the working box, so about half of them are waiting their turn.

I use a cigar cutter (great tip picked up from an old thread here!) to cut my pastels although the TLs remain whole. All the “extras” are sorted into small Sterilite containers that have a cushion on the bottom (I got a cheap set of cushions foam at walmart that I cut to size for the sterilite boxes). I do swatch sheets (by brand) when I buy new sticks so that if I’ve used something up, I can (hopefully) match the last nubbin of color to a swatch to re-order.

I keep my complete set of Nupastels in their box and I have some panpastels, also in their designated packaging. When I go plein air painting, I have a large Gladware container that I throw things into including a few Panpastels and applicators.

For Christmas, I got myself the Blue Earth Nomad set. I actually went to Dakota Pastels last week intending to get something else and was seduced by the nomad set which had much more appealing colors in person. It is also smaller than I had imagined and since I do travel occasionally overseas for work, the Nomad set will stay in it's very lightweight set-up and can go with me (I am always on the edge of exceeding my luggage weight limits so the pochade box wouldn't make it for a work trip). When I use up the mish-mash in the pochade box, I will probably repopulate it with MV and TL pastels, but think about doing it in the sort of value-driven way of the Blue Earth sets (I'm heavy handed so I suspect I will blow through those BEs faster than I can afford to replace them - the MVs are a good value and will be my workhorses).

Richard, do you pre-select your pastels before beginning a painting? Since you have them sorted by brand/softness, instead of by color? I'm just curious. It was really a challenge for me to give up all those cool manufacturer boxes and organize by color, but I think that suits my plein air mentality for working :)

Richard Barrere 12-30-2019 02:24 PM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Wow, this is a very detailed post, thank you for sharing! This is just the kind of thing I'm looking for here on WC, some details about how others store, work, sell, buy, all that stuff. I find it fascinating. Those are beautiful photos and your sets are so nice and clean and organized! Amazing. Nice collection of quality stuff!

Yeah, the pochade boxes are great, especially for those who like to work plein aire, but I prefer to work in a studio with no distractions. I like the idea of getting out and seeing the subject first hand, right there in the great outdoors, but setting up and taking down and the wind and possible rain around here in the PNW, I just don't see how it's worth it. Besides, you've now seen my collection, how would I bring all that with me??? No, I prefer to work inside where it's warm, predictable, and comfortable.

In answer to your question about choosing my pastels, I will normally sit down to do a painting and block it in with hard pastels, then do a quick underpainting with alcohol. While that dries for about 10 min, I take my small working tray and put the pastels back that I used on my last painting and choose the dozen or so sticks for the current painting. By the time I get them ready, the underpainting is usually dry, so I'm ready to begin. I will sometimes need to add a few sticks as I go along, but I usually work with about 20 to 25 total per painting. I work large, usually, and I layer a lot and do a lot of blending in on the first few layers, then lighten up and soften up as I finish. I do go through sticks, and I have my favorite go-to colors, so I have bought more of those open stock over the years, so I do use up pastels and need to replace them as needed. And YES, I do use all the pastels in the collection. I go back and forth, using more Unisons, Terry Ludwigs, and lately a lot of Rembrandts when it suits a certain subject. I recently did two landscapes and used nothing but Rembrandts on both. I do a lot of painting, even though I work full time. I tend to spend Sunday afternoons at my easel, and then some evenings during the week when I get the chance. I had a few days off last week for the holidays and I did seven paintings during that time, and framed them all. It was marvelous! My plan is to do a lot of painting when I retire, so I'm gearing up for that, even though it's still a few years away. So my collection grows a bit and gets refined along the way, and it is sure fun!

Tracy2000 12-30-2019 09:15 PM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
I've seen some of your beautiful work Richard so I can totally understand you wanting to stay in the studio with all your pastels!

I have a real passion for national parks - my spiritual well-being seems to be dependent on that time spent outside. I have to admit, I get a kick out of some of the people that stop to visit too. Last time I was at Sunrise I talked with a group of 8 20-somethings who decided to fly out from New York (!) for a 4 day weekend (oh, to be young and that carefree). They thought I was "interesting" and videoed me for their vlog and asked all kinds of amusing questions and were SO upbeat. And I had a LONG conversation about climate change and the glory of American national parks with a couple from Sweden who travel to the US every other year just to spend time touring in the parks. Then...the couple from Alabama in their rented motorhome who were less concerned with the scenery than whether I knew where they could empty their septic tank (I didn't, but thoughts of Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation came to mind). And all that time, there was a massive thunderstorm off to the South booming away and slowly edging closer. It was my favorite day of the whole Summer when all was said and done!

My BA was in anthropology - maybe I am an anthropologist who uses art to meet people from around the world? :lol:

My pastels stay fairly clean because I am probably annoyingly OCD about that and wipe them off usually if they get noticeably dirty. Pastels as a medium kind of go against my "don't get my hands dirty" natural inclinations! I'm a weirdo and I DO go through a lot of handiwipes when working plein air.

clairmilanovich 12-31-2019 08:43 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections

Originally Posted by Richard Barrere
I believe that is exactly what kind of unit I have here!... I can't imagine having 30 of them! !

Richard -- I had 128 of them!!

BUT that is the ugly past --

HERE are my glorious, wonderful, spectacular Sennelier Soft pastels!!

Richard Barrere 12-31-2019 11:56 AM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Wow, look at those! Beautiful. That is the same set I got when I started, so watch out, you will want more and more, and it never ends. You have crossed over, my friend!

I can't believe there were 128 of those drawers on castors in the same place. Must have been a large facility! Sorry, I won't keep bringing up the ugly past...

clairmilanovich 01-03-2020 03:19 PM

Re: Photos of pastel collections
Richard -- you may be right -- I masy hasve rossed over -- BUT I still love my Pablos and my Polychromos color pencils and my Derwent Graphites -- my guess is something will turn up with all three -- CP, G, and PASTELS.
Here's my improvement to my 80 count set of Senneliers:

Getting the inside cover done took about 6-8 hours -- got the color image from Sennelier; it was small and all together without room for any text.I had to match up numbers with actual color names -- fried my brain it did.

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