After another lovely day of teaching students the dusty joys of pastel I thought it might be useful to write a blog post about all the different pastel brands available. Well, I have not tried them all. But I can share my experiences with the pastel brands that I know and love and can recommend.
I have also included brands I have not tried but know are insanely popular amongst pastel artists. For example, those Terry Ludwigs look pretty attractive! Those are on my want-to-try list, for sure! Whenever I try a brand I have not reviewed before I will add my findings to this post. Do let me know your experiences and your favourite brands so we can come to a comprehensive list together?
Great Pastel Brands
In order of what comes to mind first:
Professional pastels by Dutch manufacturer Talens. My favourite pastel since I was a teenager. Rembrandt pastels are a soft pastel but they are on the hard side of the spectrum. That means they are very suitable for fine detail and neat lines. A large range of colours and a good price makes these pastels a great choice for all levels of artists. 218 colours. £2.20
British brand of hand made pastels. These pastels are much softer than Rembrandts and come in a gorgeous range of colours. They are particularly good at yummy earth colours. The stroke of a Unison is much thicker than a hard pastel so although you can get small detail, these pastels are great for more painterly work. Nearly 400 colours. £2.90 each.
German brand of excellent pastels. These pastel are really soft and buttery, softer even than Sennelier. They break or crumble much easier than hard pastels, naturally, but they are very beautiful to work with. Wonderful rich colours and great quality. Good for painterly painters. 400 colours. £3.20 each.
Square, hand made, soft pastel. Highly rated amongst pastelists. Can be a little dusty. Harder than Sennelier or Schmincke, softer than Unison. Beautiful colours. See also my review here. 640 colours. Only available in sets at Jacksons. Singles available elsewhere. approx. £3.60 each (depending on set size).
Art Spectrum Soft pastel. Jacksons: "Comparable with Rembrandt for its medium – softness consistency, but slightly more gritty in their feel.154 shades of pure, brilliant and intense colour, many of which are unique to Art Spectrum and inspired by the colours found in their native Australia.” 154 colours. £2.30 each.
Also popular: Girault, Henry Roche, Mount Vision, Richeson, Townsend.