Ok, ive been reading like crazy and to me it sounds like oil pastels are for me. But i also like the idea of Pastel Pencils. As a beginner what would you all start off with? I know they all have their pros and cons but if you had to choose one (if i had the money id buy them all and try them, lol) Thanks in advance for any suggestions

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Christina, I've tried oil pastels, and they worked for me, however, they're kind of 'restrictive'.  You really cannot 'blend' much with them, they're kind of 'greasy' when you try to blend with them.  However, the colors can be fabulous, bright and attractive. I painted with them for a couple of years, then moved onto soft pastels.  

The soft pastels are more manipulative and workable than the 'oil pastels', however, they do emit a lot of 'dust'!  After a while, my art area tends to get a bit messy and there's a layer of pastel dust over everything!  I don't mind, though, cuz I can achieve a whole lot of effects using the soft pastels as opposed to using the oil pastels.  I do find that oil pastels have their uses.  I still kept my oil pastel sets and intend to use them again one day.  

The pastel pencils are for finer detail work, like eyelashes, highlights etc., tiny details you can't achieve with the pastel stick itself.  I cannot do without my pastel pencils because I rely on them heavily for finer details in a painting.

 As to brands, I find if you stick with the highest quality (and most expensive too, unfortunately), your painting inevitably ends up looking great, no matter what you paint.  I buy my pastels from Dick Blick. I see that Thaneeya has put up a "Dick Blick" icon on her site so you can just click on the icon and it'll take you directly to the Dick Blick store.  I've tried LOTS of places, and Dick Blick REALLY DOES have the lowest prices I've ever come across in art supplies.  High quality art supplies can cost  a small fortune, so I like anybody else, prefer to get the most for less!  

Like Lyn, I too use the Derwent pastel pencils, however I love using the Faber-Castells - those are from Germany and they're awesome, durable pencils which work so hard for me.  My favorite brands of soft pastels are Rembrandt, Unison, Art Spectrum and my husband just bought me a brand new "Schmincke" soft pastel set (75 1/2 sticks) which I've dreamed of owning for a very long time!  I also use some hard pastels for detail work, I have  "Nupastel" pastel blocks, as well as Derwent pastel blocks.  These are slightly harder than the soft pastel sticks.  You can sharpen those to a point, if you like and use them for finer detail work as well as the pastel pencils.

Iveta, I love using the electric pencil sharpeners.  Those work best for me.  The little sharpeners don't work for me at all.  The electric sharpeners do the job and save the pencils at the same time! They are super efficient!  They're not cheap, but they're worth it when it comes to extending the life of your pastel pencils!

Iveta Autratová said:

I´ve used Derwent pastel pencils and they are very nice, but sometime I have a problem to sharp them without wasting with lead. But they are in a high quality :o)) and they have set with 76 colors.

Christie:  Try Faber-Castells.  They are a superb pastel pencil made in Germany and they are the absolute best.  Also they last a very long time.  They're a bit pricey, but they will save you lots of money in the long run.  Thaneeya put the "Dick Blick" icon on this website, so that you can order them directly from Dick Blick.  I've found that Dick Blick has the cheapest prices for quality art supplies!

Christie Hughes said:

Ladies....

I'm in the same boat as Christina, wondering where to start with pastels. While acquiring my Fine Arts Disploma this past year, I did a couple assignments using pastel sticks. Too messy for me...had it everywhere, including on my face. Not good. So I'm really leaning toward pastel pencils. But now, I don't know which brand to go with. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Jenifer...

I just received a small set of CarbOthelos. I haven't used them yet, but I've heard good things about them. My next order will include the Faber-Castells as I've always wanted to try them as well.

Thank you also for the tidbit about electric sharpeners. I wondered if that would work better than the small hand sharpeners. I have both, so at least I know one will work for sure.

ooohhh, i treated myself to a set of Pentel Oil Pastels today. I had a 50% off coupon (dont leave home without them) lol. I got a box of 25 colors for $2.50. Im sure they are not the best pastels but how fun!! I havent tried doing an actual picture but been playing with blending the colors next to each other. Much easier to blend than Pastel pencils (but then i may be doing the pencils wrong). I am working on another project right now but when i figure out just the right picture (im thinking my Glaydiolas in the back yard) i might do them. They are purple, lavender, off white. DONT YOU JUST LOVE GETTING NEW STUFF?? yyyiippeee.

Oh yeah! I joke with my local arts supply store staff that I'm holding out for their frequent flyer card! I'm there EVERY week. Now I know why there are starving artists!

Oh, it's FUN getting new stuff, alright!  That's why I used to be petrified before entering an art store in NYC (Pearl Paint), I knew already in advance I would be spending too much money on stuff I DIDN'T need!  LOL

Christina Mcclintock said:

ooohhh, i treated myself to a set of Pentel Oil Pastels today. I had a 50% off coupon (dont leave home without them) lol. I got a box of 25 colors for $2.50. Im sure they are not the best pastels but how fun!! I havent tried doing an actual picture but been playing with blending the colors next to each other. Much easier to blend than Pastel pencils (but then i may be doing the pencils wrong). I am working on another project right now but when i figure out just the right picture (im thinking my Glaydiolas in the back yard) i might do them. They are purple, lavender, off white. DONT YOU JUST LOVE GETTING NEW STUFF?? yyyiippeee.

Ev, I k now you are kidding, but I don't believe in that term "starving artists".  Look at Thomas Kinkade, for example.  His work was decent, however, it wasn't earth shaking.  Definitely better artists than him out there.  Yet the man grossed approx $200 MILLION from the sale of his artwork.  Yes, a good part of it was 'marketing' and just plain good old fashioned business savvy.  Why do some artists "make it" and others don't (like myself!)?  Not sure why, there are many answers, yet no answers.  I remember also another artist named Bev Dolittle, who made a fortune out of something called "camouflage art".  She painted pintos, by painting snow over dark ground.  She painted 'pinto horses' into the shadows and snowy backgrounds, thus forcing people to "look" for the horse.  Sometimes her horses were obvious, other times they weren't, which made it all the more fun.  But then people got tired of her work.  Today she is just another artist who made a lot of money once upon a time.  I call that a "fad".  But it worked for her.  Still though, I don't believe "fads" are the way to go.  Back to Kinkade, he went with his heart.  He picked a subject and poured his heart and soul into it, and that coupled with a fantastic sense of business savvy, is why the man was rolling in money.  He never took care of himself though which is why he's 6 feet under today, but that's another story, isn't it...

My own advice, would be similar to what Kinkade did - go with your heart. Pick something you find joy and pleasure in, practice practice practice on it all you can, perfect your art and hopefully one day the public will see the appeal in your artwork and buy your art!  A good idea is to get a book by Leslie Harrison, she is an awesome pastel artist (she is so good, I could never compare her to someone like Kinkade, she makes his work look mediocre!).  Leslie found a subject close to her heart, painted it to perfection and has faithful clients who have bought her work for decades!  She even has some clients on a waiting list!  She has paintings she grew attached to, which clients have begged her for, hoping she will change her  mind and sell!  Her book has been an inspiration to me.  One more thing, her work can never be called a FAD.

Anyway, just my thoughts  :)

Jenifer

Ev McTaggart said:

Oh yeah! I joke with my local arts supply store staff that I'm holding out for their frequent flyer card! I'm there EVERY week. Now I know why there are starving artists!

Oh, I believe (at the time) that I truly need all the stuff I cart home from Woolfitt's. I'm now getting to the point where the only thing I'll need to buy will be replacement acrylics. Horrors! What shall  do then?????

Well, im in this for the fun. Obviously i am NO WHERE close to selling any major artwork (ive sold two oils) but im not worried about it. Ive been at this for 8 months. i dont think anyone would expect me to be a Picasso after picking up a brush for the first time back in September. I truely believe you can not find your nitch if you still with one medium. If i had done that i would never of tried acrylics, pastels, Zentangles,Mandalas. I do believe if i find one medium that i think im good at i will then practice, practice, practice. But untill that time happens its fun to get and try new stuff. I dont buy expensive supplies so i dont have alot of money into this (well, except all the madatory oils i had to get for my so called art class). Once i find what i am good at THEN i will dump money into nice supplies.

Ev..Oh i know. I have a Michaels rewards card (not sure if you have those in Canada) but i am now a "gold card" member. And i get all kinds of deals but basically it just means i buy way too much stuff. lol. I do get alot of stuff there for my business.

My latest acquisitions were 1) a pen nib style thing that applies masking fluid in microscopic lines, 2) etching tools for wet paint so you can show a base paint colour through the top layer, 3) four different palette knives, bringing my total to ten, and 4) an ellipse template sheet. Sigh. Where does one stop? I think I'm addicted.

Ev, i dont even know what those things are, lol. Thats how new at this i am. The etching tool sounds cool tho!! i have the same problem with my scrapbooking. paper, paper and more paper....and let us not forget the 3 drawers of stamps i have. LOL. I almost purchased some more palette knives when i was out yesterday. See, thats my big problem...so many ideas of things i want to do. I also got that book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain yesterday and of course before i even get started i have to have a big piece of plastic, view finders, non permanent black felt tip marker, clips, graphite stick etc etc. I think i can make the plastic do hickey and the view finders (instructions on how to make these are in the book). Id love to actually take the seminar but the closest one to me is in Chicago (about 4 hours away) and the cost for just the 5-day seminar is $1450. YIKES.

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