Essential supplies for working with Pastels

Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman  Date Posted:27 January 2021 

Essential Pastel Art Supplies 

Pastels are a fantastic medium for achieving brilliant artworks with rich and vibrant colour effects. They are applied dry, primarily to pastel paper, and produce a lovely buttery and ‘soft’ aesthetic quality. There are four main types of Pastels, including oil pastels, soft pastels, hard pastels and pastel pencils.

The use of pastels can be found back during the Renaissance period and is thought of have originated in Northern Italy during the 16th century. Many of the greats have used the medium, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and in more recent years, Monet, Edgar Degas and Gauguin, among many more.

Keep reading to discover the difference between the types of Pastels and the essential supplies you’ll need to get started in creating your very own Pastel artwork.


Oil Pastels

Oil Pastels produce bold, intense colours that consist of pigment bound with wax and oil. Unlike gum-based pastels, they don’t crumble or smudge as easily, and don’t require a fixative. It is important to note that they never completely dry, and aren’t compatible with other pastel types, however, they can be used with oil paints or applied over acrylic paints to create textures. Oil pastels are great for creating large scale works, and sweeping strokes and colours, but aren’t as suitable for blending of for creating small details.

Mont Marte Oil Pastels 12pc

Mont Marte Oil Pastels are a rich, soft and buttery drawing medium. Vibrant in colour, these Oil Pastels offer smooth blending between colours and can be applied to a wide range of different toned and textured drawing or painting surfaces, such as papers and canvas. Also available in a set of 24 - High-Quality Pigments

Reeves Water Soluble Wax Pastels

Made with high-quality pigments, Reeves Water Soluble Wax Pastels offer vibrant, strong colours that have a smooth, creamy consistency and blend easily — ideal for colour mixing! They’re easy to apply dry — or use them with water, a wet brush or a sponge to create a variety of watercolour effects. Wet and dry application methods can be combined in the same picture. You can even overlay a light colour with a dark colour and scratch through it to create fine details in your pictures. Available in a set of 12 or 24 

Conte Crayons 

Invented in France in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté especially for drawing and sketching, Conté Crayons are made from a blend of natural pigments, kaolin clay, and graphite. Used by the master’s Picasso, Degas and Delacroix for over a century, the Conte Crayon range is one of the finest pastel ranges available. The rich, vivid colours of Conté Crayons mix together nicely, and a range of effects can be consistently produced. They are well suited for use on newsprint, bristol, toned paper or heavily grained surfaces. Their rich opacity makes them ideal for work on darker papers and their quality ensures the longevity of drawings. Conté crayons are waxier and much firmer than soft pastels, so they produce little dust and are easy to control. Sharpen Conté Crayons to a chisel tip with a sanding pad for detailed work or drag them flat on their sides for various shading techniques on large areas. The unique shape allows the sticks to be broken for easier use. These hard pastels are smooth & rich in pigment. Perfect for sketching or alternatively, black and white or colour work. Made in France.


Soft pastels

High in pigment providing intense colour results, soft pastels are great for blending, but are easy to crumble, due to the very minimal amount of gum binder used to hold together the pigment. Soft pastels are easily blended and layered, and come in a variety of beautiful, rich colours. Soft pastels can also be used with pastel pencils and charcoal.

Rembrandt Pastel Set 

Under the Rembrandt brand, Royal Talens supplies a series of professional artists’ products that enjoy the confidence of users worldwide. With stability and durability as the aim, each Rembrandt product combines the best from its past with modern developments in technology and raw materials. Rembrandt Pastels feature excellent colour release, intense and pure colours. They are good to the highest degree of lightfastness and boast a very high colouring power due to the high concentration of pigment. Rembrandt Pastels are available in a wide selection of sets, luxury boxes and exclusive wooden boxes. In addition to sets and boxes with a general selection, there are also ranges for portraits and landscapes and ranges of half pastels. All sets come with information, including tips on working with Rembrandt pastels. In order to protect the fragile pastels, each pastel is embedded in a special foam base.

ont Marte Soft Pastels - Colour 36pc

Mont Marte Signature Soft Pastels have a soft, chalky texture. They are superb for seamless colour blending and can be applied to a wide range of textured papers and card. Smudge and blend with a finger or with paper stumps. The side of the pastel can be used to paint large areas, and the tip of the pastel to create fine lines. Also available in a 12pc set 


Hard Pastels

Hard pastels are great for drawing techniques, as they are more stable and less prone to crumbling, made with more binder and less pigment. They have slightly less intense colour payoff due to the use of more binder but can be used in conjunction with soft pastels for a variety of colour effects.

Derwent Pastel Block Tin Of 36 - Plus Free A4 Pastel Pad

These firm, square-shaped pastel blocks are ideal for creating broad, bold strokes of colour. They are perfect for traditional pastel drawings and also work well with other media. Try using Derwent Pastel Pencils for adding detail and highlights in the same colour spectrum. Ideal for loose, expressive sketches and laying down large areas of colour. Blend colours together with your finger, a paper stump or the unique Derwent Blender (included in this tin). Use the ends, sides and edges of the pastel to achieve different effects. Scrape off the top layer of colour to reveal the original colour beneath. Includes FREE A4 Pastel Paper Pad, 160gsm, 24 sheets.

Sakura Nouvel Carre Pastel Set 

Sakura Nouvel Carre Artist Pastels are designed for the student and professional. The square shape is versatile for all work. They are semi-hard for minimal "finger-powdering" and the elimination of paper wrapping. Carre Pastels are water-soluble and are lightfast rated. The pure pigments produce vivid, brilliant colours.

Pastel Pencils

Pastel pencils are great for precision and less mess. Their pencil form gives you the advantage of using more controlled drawing techniques with rich, painterly aesthetic qualities. Some fantastic Pastel Pencil options include:

Derwent Pastel Pencil Tin Of 36

Derwent Pastel Pencils have the same expressive qualities of Derwent hard pastels in a more controlled pencil. These professional-quality pencils are ideal for use as an individual medium or for detailing in combination with pastel work. Naturally water-soluble, they complement the pastel blocks perfectly without the mess. They have a soft, powdery texture for a soft, velvety finish and are ideal for mixing and blending. Each pencil is tabbed with its colour and is pre-sharpened for immediate use. Pastels are usually all about getting your hands dirty but not with Derwent Pastel Pencils. The wide colour strip is powdery and soft so mixing and blending is really easy and because it's encased in wood you get the pastel effect without the mess (if you can resist using your fingers to blend!) The smooth, round barrels are 8.0 mm wide and made from California incense cedar wood which combines maximum control with ease of use to create the best drawings and sketches. Set of 36 comes in a beautiful tin to protect your pencils.

Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Pencil Tin Of 12

The Pitt pastel pencils contain a high level of pigment, but are wax and oil-free, and are perfectly suited for fine details in pastels. Just like the Polychromos pastel crayons they can be easily smudged to create fine colour transitions and perfectly complement the pastel crayons. Only minimal fixing is required, ensuring that the pastel drawings retain their vividness of colour. Made from high-quality acid-free pigments in bright colours, these pencils boast unsurpassed lightfastness and a vibrant colour laydown

Mont Marte Pastel Pencils - Skin Tints 12pc

Create amazing portrait drawings with these natural skin tone pastel pencils. 12 Natural Wood Pencils in Traditional Portrait Colours. Made from High-Quality Pigments

Cretacolor Studio Pastel Pencil Set - Still Life 8pc

Cretacolor’s products are internationally recognised as being of very high quality, with high colour intensity, rich colour laydown and superior lightfastness. Each pastel pencil is enveloped in a protective case of cedar. The rich pigmentation and high lightfastness guarantee brilliant results. The pencils are pre-sharpened and is conveniently packaged in cardboard boxes. This pastel pencil set of 8 Coloured Pencils. These highly pigmented, oil-free pastel pencils are rated LFII on the lightfast scale and are ideal for studies in nature, still life and portraits. Fixing is recommended upon completion of work. Non-toxic. Also available in Portrait and Nature Sets.

Mont Marte Pastel Pencils 12pc

Mont Marte Pastel Pencils are suitable for everything from subtle detailed work to quick expressive sketches. These Pastel Pencils are easy to use and are ideal for blending and smudging. Mont Marte’s fine pigments ensure a high degree of lightfastness and coverage. Pastel Pencils are easily controlled and can be used in conjunction with soft and hard pastels to create delicate lines and details. Features: 12 Vibrant colours made from High-quality pigments. Soft and easy to apply with a high degree of lightfastness and covering power.