Pastels are instantly rewarding for new painters! But wait, you ask, "Aren't pastels a drawing material?" They can be, but not the way I use and teach them. For me, pastels are pre-mixed brush loads of vibrant paint. Most beginning painting students struggle with mixing clean colors. Soft Pastels bypass that struggle and get you right into the process. Here is a list of my favorite supplies (p.s. another advantage to pastel? It's a short list):
- One box Sennelier 80 half-stick set. This plein air set, or this one both are good starter kits. If you want to live a little larger this one has a larger color selection. The more pastel colors the better. Professionals usually have about 500 individual colors.
- Five or six sheets of Sanded uart paper or Art Spectrum sanded paper, at least 11 x 14, choose a mid-range grit. course paper eats up pastels, too fine and the paper won't take enough pastel in. It is hard to paint tiny pastels.
- A raggedy, old bristle brush (this serves as an eraser).
- About a half a cup of rubbing alcohol or gamsol in a sealed container.
- A soft drawing pencil or a conte crayon for sketching out compositions on your paper.
- Some people don't like the pastel dust on their skin, in which case you need Gloves in a Bottle or just paint old gloves. Hint: Gloves in a Bottle is just good old lanolin. Any moisturizer serves just as well.
- A board to tape your paper to.
- Paper towels (VIVA)!!!!!
Sources for awesome pastels:
Other great brands for my style of pastel painting:
- Unison are lovely.
Notes on what not to buy:
- Rembrandts are too hard to use for my methods, even though they are labeled as "soft".
- Anything that Michael's sells. The quality is probably not good enough.
- Unsanded paper, such as canson, mi-tientes paper. This stuff is for drawing with pastels rather than painting with them-- it does not accept enough pastel before it runs out of surface.