Cretacolor Carre Pastels are hard pastels that are nice and easy to use, hardwearing, and affordable. They are great for sketching as well as painting, but limited in use through its small colour selection and the lack of single sticks to replenish your set.
I treated myself to a box of these hard pastels after seeing Lea Wight demonstrate her pastel magic online (check out this amazing video). She was using a different brand of hard pastel (one I cannot get in the UK) but it made me want to try some hard pastels (I usually work with soft pastel, although a fairly hard one, Rembrandt pastels). I liked Wight’s approach with lots of strokes and lines (although I haven’t manage to emulate it yet). So after a little research into the hard pastels available in the UK I bought the biggest set of Cretacolor, containing 72 sticks.
The range of colours is fairly limited (many greys and browns) but that should not stop me creating whatever I want through layering and mixing. These colours are sufficient although they do not come near the beautiful shades that soft pastel brands such as Rembrandt or Unison offer. The pastels are easy to use and hold. They don’t crumble or break easily, which is really useful, especially when travelling. In this study (below) (on Daler & Rowney pastel paper) I could layer the pastel for quite a long time. The colours layered softly and mixed gently. They worked quite similarly to Rembrandt soft pastels. I am fairly pleased with them.
Cretacolor states that the pastels are lightfast which makes them suitable for professionals as well as hobbyists. The price is affordable (I paid £0.85 per stick). The set came in a cardboard box with polystyrene inserts for the pastels. It doesn’t look as nice as the foam inserts of soft pastels but it does the job. The lid is not very sturdy and does not protect. The pastels don’t seem to be sold in singles (as far as I could find within the UK) which means I cannot replace colours most used. No doubt they will end up getting mixed in with my Rembrandts soft pastels for a complete colour range.
- Quality: good
- Colour range: average
- Usefulness: excellent
- Packaging: average