Since I became enamored with the pastel medium, I have been trying various pastels made in different countries of the world. There are many wonderful old names like Sennelier, Rembrandt, Schminke,Winsor Newton and of course many other brands that artists love and revere. I have quite a few softer pastels by Rembrandt, Sennelier and Winsor Newton and even a few buttery soft by American pastel maker Terry Ludwig. I have a full set of Prismacolor hard pastels that I use a lot for under colors but I did not have any Great American Art Works Pastels that I have heard so many positive things about. These wonderful pastels are made in the USA.
Since I am always griping about buying American products, I ordered a small selection of Great American pastels from Jerry's ArtArama.com a few months ago, and really found them to be soft, and not subject to crumbling like some of my Winsor Newtons. I was very impressed with how smoothly they applied to my Wallis paper with a light stroke. They had one pastel I purchased that said silver and so had to check it out. It really was silver and I have used it on several paintings that required a touch of silver. I wanted to have more of these beauties! They have 468 different colors and are always adding more selections. They also have fun names, like, Church Mouse Grey, Zest, Paris, Atmosphere, Merlot, don't wine, you get the picture.
A few weeks ago I saw a Thunderstorm set on sale by FineArt.com for a low and impossible to refuse price. I have coveted this set for some time and so I ordered them. They came in the mail and I could not wait to use them on a pastel I was working on that had wonderful sky colors. How I wish I had them when I worked on my Desert Storm piece.
Last Saturday, I had attended a demonstration put on by Bob Strohsahl, Head Honcho of Great American Art Works pastel company, at University Art in Sacramento, California. This was a reserve your seat event, and also the quarterly meeting for the Pastel Society of the West Coast. I had no idea that Bob would brings such a huge selection of wonderful wooden boxed selections of 78 pastels each by so many well known pastel artist like Margo Schultzke, Richard McKinley, Paul Murray, Judith Carducci and others, as well as 60 half stick sets. I think everyone in the room was salivating looking at the many colorful boxes that were saying take me home!
Bob made a delightful and informative presentation about the company and where they purchase many of the minerals used in their pastels. He showed many wonderful color pictures of places we all would love to visit and paint. Margo Schultzke was at that presentation and said that she has been delighted with the pastels and the variety of colors. One very lucky member won a door prize in a drawing of 78 pastels of a set of his choosing. I know David, you are probably still smiling! Many of us bought various sets of our choosing at that event because we were given a great price with no shipping charges. I purchased a Richard McKinley selection since I liked the color selection and know I do not have some of the colors in my palette. I cannot wait to beak them out and incorporate them into my palette and enjoy using them.
I encourage you to buy some and test them out. I am sold on this companies wonderful pastels, and know that I don't need to look anywhere else to find what I want. The best part is, like the Terry Ludwig Pastels, they are made right here in America!