Seascapes are forgiving subjects, waves and clouds take many forms, unlike buildings and with unforgiving straight lines and perspective

What are the best soft pastels for a beginner?

Art is a brilliant escape and I’ve loved watching people flourish through learning a new skill and enjoy exploring soft pastels as a beginner. As an Art Tutor I want people to have the best possible experience for you learning pastels as a beginner. I know that previously by providing my own good quality art materials for my new attendees meant that they have a positive experience. This means that they enjoy and progress quickly rather than struggling with poor quality materials. 

Accessing art remotely means I can’t do that, so how do I ensure that you have a good experience? It’s so hard to justify spending money on yourself, especially when we all need to stretch pennies so far. Here’s my best efforts to explain why it’s always worth buying the materials an art tutor ( pastels geek! ) advises, especially when you are starting pastels as a beginner.

Invest in good storage – it will help your materials last

I’ve spent most of my life working with soft pastels, I know the characteristics of different brands and don’t hesitate when buying good quality materials because I know its worth it. I have drawers full of them.

Soft pastels storage
I love to buy aesthetically pleasing storage

To a beginner learning soft pastels, buying art materials feels like a huge financial commitment. I know from experience that poor quality materials are frustrating. A limited pallet of colours or unknowingly buying pastels that have less pigment in will lead to disappointments. Investing in a good base set of colours will help your skills progress. You’re going to find that the pastels behave in a rewarding way. Your colour pallet will grow with you. You will extend the colours in the subjects you want to paint. As you progress you can add to that base set. Quality colours will mix together on the pastel papers and the colours will be more vibrant. They will be more vibrant because the colours have quality pigments in them. 

Invest in your new hobby

I find it easier to make a comparison. If I wanted to walk to the top of a mountain to enjoy the view comfortably. Investing in the right footwear to make it the most comfortable experience would be obvious and your first investment. Art materials are similar, invest in your hobby if you want to enjoy your experience. Spending money on the materials in the best investment you can make as someone learning pastels. If you are interested to try a session, I think you’re going to find that you want to do more. These first steps are just part of a longer creative journey and that way, the investment seems less daunting. 

Using Sanded Papers for soft pastels

My next piece of advice would be to try Jacksons sanded pastel cards sample pack, they are a revelation! Firstly the pastel stays on it and then you can build and mix layers of colour. The traditional papers are a great start. On one my taster days, I supply sanded card because I know it gives a better experience for a beginner. Some like water and some don’t, research each type and see which one you like. I prefer Sennelier for my Animal Portraits and Art Spectrum for my Seascapes.

I send out a ‘top tips’ document alongside a workshop. Here’s one of my most recommended. I recommend getting a desktop easel. The pastel dust falls down the page meaning that you don’t get in such a mess. Having a the right equipment will be a blissful escape rather than a fleeting one off.

Unison Colour Associate Artist

I am proud to be a Unison Colour Associate Artist . We share a passion for quality pastels and sharing that enjoyment with other people. I have found soft pastels to be a fabulous escape and I can transport myself to a view through creating it on my easel. My online workshops are inspired by ‘views I’d like to be in’. I hope that you’ll enjoy one of my online workshops like a virtual holiday. Your resulting artwork is then like a window into that view for you to enjoy where ever you are.

Happy ‘pastelling’. 


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