This is it … I did it! After doubting for a long time, I decided to spend some extra money and buy some new drawing materials. Not that I had nothing to begin with 😉 … But I see so many beautiful drawings on Twitter, and also at such a high pace! And I have noticed a frequent use of pastel. This arouses my curiosity…

Before I started drawing with pencil, I once made a drawing with pastel. I have a box of Rembrandt soft pastels that belonged to my mother. One time, I decided to spend my evening with a piece of paper and these colours. And this was the result.

pasteltekening landschap

Well, it was just a fantasized creative trial, but I had a good time. Cleaning up was a little less enjoyable. Not only did I have coloured dust in every pore, but also the wooden table and floor had a new look. And … cleaning the stuff is not easy! I was immediately cured: this is not a hobby for a spare hour.

Fortunately, I have eventually discovered coloured pencils, which are a lot more user-friendly. I am having a great time with them, but it is time-consuming! As you can regularly read in my posts, I often spend so much time on all those layers in a drawing that my enthusiasm is tempered. An hour here and there … and two months have passed before it is finished! And then I see all the tweets, gee, some people produce something new every day! I want that too!

Of course it all starts with talent. I’m not going to become a better artist by buying expensive things, I know that. But … if it motivates? And increases productivity? It is tempting… And when I see how a background is coloured so fast with panpastels, again and again, while it’s taking me hours and hours with coloured pencil, I know for sure: I must have them too!

Furthermore, I’m hoping to solve another problem with panpastel. I like to draw animals, and I see that fur looks much more realistic if you start with a coloured “underpainting”. I would love to try that! Another possibility would be the use of coloured paper, which is also on my list.

After some searching – because they are definitely not cheap – I’ve found a set with 20 colours for a very reasonable price (at

set of 20 colours including Sofft Tools

As soon as they arrive, I have to try them! I pull up my cheap sketching pad from Action’s and get started. First a speed test. In my early days with colour pencils (what am I saying, I’m still in those days hahaha) I drew an apple and it took me two hours. Now, ten minutes with the panpastels, including screwing the pans apart and looking for the right colours. Passed.

Then a quick sketch of a lioness. This takes a little more time, because I have yet to figure out which colours to mix to get a certain shade. That is going to take a lot of practice!

schets leeuwin met panpastel

Then I look up a nice reference photo by Skitterphoto (on that I wanted to try for a long time, with lots of nice colours. I am now going to try a background with panpastel for the first time! And at the same time, I try to do some kind of underpainting for the parrot. Then I fill in some details in pencil, to see if it “sticks”.

The paper is not ideal, obviously. And I’m not sure yet how much pastel to use. You easily swipe the pans too much, causing the paper to get filled with dust. The colour sticks quite well to the applicators (the Sofft Tools); they keep dispensing pigment for quite a while. Which leads me to another question: how many of these tools should you use for one drawing? Mixing colours works well, both on the pan itself and on a piece of paper. But then the colour continues to contaminate the next colour used, even though I think I have cleaned the sponge quite well. I wipe off the tools extensively all the time, on a piece of kitchen paper, but the colours keep smudging. There is some research work for me to do.

I also soon discover that my no-thanks-I-don’t-need-that-tray was somewhat too ambitious. Unscrewing and stacking the pans all the time is a bit nerve-racking. And it’s a mess on my drawing table. So I guess I’ll have to pull out my wallet again.

palette tray for 20 “pans”, with cover

I already know that I need quality paper for pastel drawings, and preferably in various colours. And they just happen to be on sale, those pads of Clairefontaine Pastelmat …

pastelmat papier
I have just bought two blocks😀

They say it is possible to work quite detailed with panpastel, but I am more of a pencil-fiddling-person. The problem with coloured pencils is that you’re endlessly building up layers on layers, and: you have to work from light to dark. At least, I never succeed in making highlights brighter afterwards. I leave the white of the paper, or I cheat with scratches in the paper or with gelpen. Still experimenting a lot with that. But … they say you can with pastel pencils! Simply finish with a light pencil over dark! Well… then pastel pencils shall be bought

set of Faber-Castell’s Pitt pastel pencils

Continuing, straight away, with this list of mine, I bought myself a table easel as well. I have noticed a slight distortion in perspective, when my drawing paper is in a flat position….

the cheapest table easel I could find …

This post has become quite long along the way … In a next post I will tell more about my experiences with all these new purchases! And show the results 😉

To be continued…!

To go to the Dutch version of this post: Tekenen – maar nu met pastel?!