What Pastels Do You Use?

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,

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Blogger Sergio Lopez said...

What's your second-fave? Say... if you run out of a certain color and need to run to the art store in a pinch. What do you go for if they don't have Terry Ludwig?

2/18/14, 7:28 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Sergio, go for the Unisons, and if they don't have them, then go Sennelier. I like the Unison second because it is a bulkier stick (more paste) as with the Sennelier they are very nicely pigmented yet thinner. Hope this helps

2/18/14, 8:57 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Sergio, thanks for the nudge, I forgot to mention those other favs, so I updated it in the post. Thanks for the question and hope it helps to get you off to a great start.

2/18/14, 9:00 PM  
Blogger Sergio Lopez said...

Thanks Brenda, was curious. I just don't think everyone is going to special-order pastels if they aren't in an area that sells those locally. I like Sennellier's and Schminke's myself.

2/18/14, 9:14 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Ah you are quite right! Oh, my first introduction to the finer pastel was when our local art store started carrying the ever so buttery Schminke. MM Mmmm Mmmm I was addicted!

2/18/14, 9:18 PM  
Blogger Sue Marrazzo Fine Art said...

NICE Post!...I don't use pastels...BUT I really admire this medium!!!! COOL!

2/18/14, 9:51 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Sue,
I hope you will give them a try someday. I often hear from my fellow pastelits that they all worked in another medium and once they got started, they never looked back! Oh, and thanks for dropping by!

2/18/14, 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda, i've been reading your blog now for some months, and i love your work...if only i lived closer i'd be taking one of your workshops for sure.

i have to agree with you about the frustrations of a beginner pastel painter! i am certainly a beginner, started maybe this time last year, and i love the medium so much! i did what most of us do, bought a mid range priced set, and found it greatly lacking! I've since thrown all caution to the wind and have bought some Terry Ludwig - don't have many - i also like Mount Vision and Schmincke.

Cheers, Linda Wright

2/19/14, 6:52 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

I've been introduced to Mount Vision and they do rank up there with the Ludwigs and Unisons. Thanks for dropping by and wishing you success inyour pastel adventures. b

2/19/14, 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Sandi said...

Love Terry Ludwigs, then Mt Vision but have many other brands . These are my faves.

2/20/14, 10:12 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Sandi,
Ludwigs all the way, but I'd like to try the Mt Vision. I may have once in a snap opportunity, but didn't get to really work with them. What do you like about them?

2/20/14, 11:54 AM  

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