Pan Pastels: Smooth as Silk

Oh, I love color! I mean, I really love color. Crayons, markers, fabric, embroidery floss, paint—if it comes in a zillion colors, I want them all. Plus I love finding new ways to add color to surfaces. So when Jude Ongley Mowris asked about PanPastel colors, I was all over it. I’d heard Carla Sonheim say how much she liked them, and I’d read other artists’ raves. So you know me: I contacted Bernadette Ward, who, along with her husband and business partner, Ladd Forsline, is the creator of PanPastel Colors. She very generously sent me a selection to play with, and I set about experimenting.

First, let me say that the colors are gorgeous—Berni asked what colors I like, and she sent a brilliant palette, as you can see.

Second, these are sooo much nicer than any other pastels I’ve ever used. You know, those sticks of chalk. I don’t know about you, but that scritchy-ness on paper? I always hated that. And all the dust! PanPastels have none of the scritchy-ness, since they come in a pan. You apply them with the Sofft Tools that were designed for them–really nice, specifically-shaped tools, from large-and-flat to small-and-pointy. I love the Sofft Tools and I really love the variety of shapes and sizes.

The colors are rich and smooth and creamy, if you can imagine a pastel being creamy.  I also loved that there is a lot less dust that with other pastels I’ve used. There is still some dust, and I’d want to use a fixative after I’m done.

Since I was just playing, I figured you’d want to see what an actual artist does with these. So I asked my friend Carla Sonheim to share something with us. She, being amazingly generous, sent these two images and explained what she did.

Carla says:

“Here are two images I did using PanPastels. In the case of the woman’s face, I smeared 4-5 colors of pigment onto the paper, fairly randomly (90# drawing paper with a very slight tooth), then went back into it with a harder eraser to bring out the face.

“For the dog, I started out with a light line drawing (ballpoint pen) of the outline of the dog, and then did the same thing: applied 4-5 colors of pigment randomly inside the shape and then went back into it with a kneaded rubber eraser over the entire thing to soften the effect… then I added detailing with ballpoint pen.

“I like that they have an ‘oily’ binder and aren’t so ‘flaky.’ They can take a beating! I’ve only experimented a little bit with them, so my knowledge is limited. But I do like that they seem to ‘stick’ better than regular pastels… I find I need to ‘fix’ them when done…

“My advice: try using an eraser as a tool in combo with PanPastels! Also, if you can only afford a few colors to start, I’d go with the primaries (red, yellow, blue) and a black or dark grey and a cream or white.”

So there you have it, and my recommendation? If you use pastels or want to try pastels, these are the ones I’d recommend.

Note: Ricë went in search of this product after a reader asked to know more about it. She did receive the above mentioned items from the manufacturer, and found she thoroughly enjoyed them. The above review is an honest and accurate representation of her experience and opinions about the product.


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8 Responses to Pan Pastels: Smooth as Silk

  1. peggygatto says:

    I use them all the time. I have used traditional pastels of all brands for years and when I saw these I had to try them. I love the saturation of the colors and they blend beautifully. Wonderful for accents and do not smear off the page.

  2. Katie Holmes says:

    These colors are BEAUTIFUL. Gonna have to try them! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pam Carriker says:

    I love them! And Bernie is a sweetie. I have a video up of using them to create a portrait that I did a while back and I also used them for a project in my book. I especially love that you can ‘paint’ with them, layering the colors. Highly recommend!

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      That’s an excellent video, Pam–thanks for letting us know it’s there.

  4. AndreaR says:

    I’ve been avoiding my pastels because I wasn’t happy with the means to apply them. Those tools look like the answer to my problem….and the pan pastels are so rich…put mine to shame!

  5. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for the review! I have been curious about Pan Pastels since I first saw them on a blog. I will definately try them out. Yummy colors!