Pictured here is a full box of Terry Ludwig Vibrants (front and center), The Most Requested Violets (bottom center) and a small glimpse of my pastel box at hand (upper left)
Often while I am out painting with my pastels, or while teaching a pastel workshop I am asked the question of what brand I prefer. I have tried perhaps a dozen brands and have honed into my favorites, although with the popularity of this medium there are bound to be many more brands being created over time. I think brand selection, hardness to softness has a lot to do with one's personal style of working and mark-making. For me, I prefer the softer pastels for my technique because I have grown accustomed to their characteristics. Perhaps I am missing the boat on this one, but others like using the harder pastels for the preliminary stage of underpainting, blocking in, or setting values. For me, I just use a dispersed pigment of Createx, or perhaps I will use a quick, thin block-in of pastel and wash it down with OMS or Turpenoid.
It only goes without saying that experience and experimentation are key to one's own personal style. Over time, I have gravitated to Terry Ludwig Pastels as my all time favorite brand. Let me mention that I am not getting paid to write this up, or getting any sort of kudos for mentioning this brand, as I am only giving my opinion here. The square shape is perfect for the way I work, often because they have a flat side for filling in color. Also these square shaped pastels have sharp, crisp corners that allow for more detailed line work for tree trunks, or other skinny marks. They are versatile as well as soft, but not too buttery, as well as the pigmentation is rich. There are a few other pastels that I prefer over others, but just as long as they are in the "soft" category of all things pastel. That would be the Unison and then the Sennelier brands. When students sign up for my workshops, I provide a supply list and offer up some pastel brands that will give the student a great start on working in pastel. It's when a student decides on getting a "student grade" of pastel, then they become frustrated with it's limitations. Trust me when I say that higher quality pastels will be more money, but you will get farther faster with them too. So give yourself permission and get the quality you deserve.
So before you sign off, I have to shout out a bit of shameless self-promotion here. If you have always wanted to get yourself off to a great start with pastels, or wish to gain more in-depth knowledge of the medium along with practical techniques and exercises, I have put together two pastel workshops in March and in May that are now on the calendar HERE. Hope you can come join me.
All for now,