Pastels & Velour

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    Pastels & Velour

    My Favorite Pastels
    Many of you have asked which are my favorite brands of pastels.

    First of all, aren’t you so very lucky that you can even ask a question like that! 30 years ago when I first started working with pastels, there were very few choices of different brands (which in some ways made things much easier).

    I always say, if I could only choose a couple of sets, it would be NuPastels for detail and Girault for overall consistency in the grade of hardness/softness and color.

    But, of course, I have lots more sets than that. For years, I lusted after a full set of Senneliers and when I could finally afford them, I bought a gorgeous set. Just so happens that they are usually too soft for what I’m trying to achieve, but they sure are pretty sitting in my drawer next to my drafting table! And once in a while, they have just the perfect color that I need for something. Mostly, I think of their brilliant, soft, wonderful reds…

    Rembrandt makes a marvelous range of soft grays that I use a lot for my backgrounds and undercoating.

    Unison has great, fat, lovely dark blue-greens.

    I use Rembrandt’s white and black more than anyone elses, but Schmincke has the ultimate, soft, white-white. The only one I like as well is one that I make myself – mmmmmm “buttery” in texture and so WHITE!

    Rembrandt also has a fabulous brownish violet that I’ve used for a zillion years as an undercoat on a lot of my horses. Just be a little careful with Rembrandts – their sticks can have little hard grains in them that can rip the velour paper and destroy the whole painting in an instant. Don’t ask me how I know this!

    Diane Townsend makes luscious, soft pastels and I think you can still purchase them through “The Artisan” in Santa Fe and New York Central Art Supply, in New York.

    Let’s see… I’m on the road writing this, so I’m trying to remember the names of the ones I use less often. Holbein is also great for detail work and I treasure my huge set of Grumbachers since they aren’t even made anymore.

    Years ago, I became so frustrated not having certain colors when I needed them, so I did oodles of research and I learned how to make my own – now that is an experience! The “lumpy” looking ones in this photograph are mine!

    There are two pastel pencil brands that I really like for detail and use a lot – Bruzneel and Derwent.

    There’s a great source for anything having to do with pastels, if you haven’t heard of them already – Dakota Pastels up in Washington. Their website is: .


    I get a lot of questions about velour paper. Here is a link to one of my Blog posts on the subject of velour paper:

    Image: Display of pastels used by Lesley Harrison