Pastels Used By Lesley Harrison
My Favorite Pastels
Many of you have asked which are my favorite brands of pastels.

First of all, aren’t you so very lucky that you can even ask a question like that! 30 years ago when I first started working with pastels, there were very few choices of different brands (which in some ways made things much easier).

I always say, if I could only choose a couple of sets, it would be NuPastels for detail and Girault for overall consistency in the grade of hardness/softness and color.

But, of course, I have lots more sets than that. For years, I lusted after a full set of Senneliers and when I could finally afford them, I bought a gorgeous set. Just so happens that they are usually too soft for what I’m trying to achieve, but they sure are pretty sitting in my drawer next to my drafting table! And once in a while, they have just the perfect color that I need for something. Mostly, I think of their brilliant, soft, wonderful reds…

Rembrandt makes a marvelous range of soft grays that I use a lot for my backgrounds and undercoating.

Unison has great, fat, lovely dark blue-greens.

I use Rembrandt’s white and black more than anyone elses, but Schmincke has the ultimate, soft, white-white. The only one I like as well is one that I make myself – mmmmmm “buttery” in texture and so WHITE!

Rembrandt also has a fabulous brownish violet that I’ve used for a zillion years as an undercoat on a lot of my horses. Just be a little careful with Rembrandts – their sticks can have little hard grains in them that can rip the velour paper and destroy the whole painting in an instant. Don’t ask me how I know this!

Diane Townsend makes luscious, soft pastels and I think you can still purchase them through “The Artisan” in Santa Fe and New York Central Art Supply, in New York.

Let’s see… I’m on the road writing this, so I’m trying to remember the names of the ones I use less often. Holbein is also great for detail work and I treasure my huge set of Grumbachers since they aren’t even made anymore.

Years ago, I became so frustrated not having certain colors when I needed them, so I did oodles of research and I learned how to make my own – now that is an experience! The “lumpy” looking ones in this photograph are mine!

There are two pastel pencil brands that I really like for detail and use a lot – Bruzneel and Derwent.

There’s a great source for anything having to do with pastels, if you haven’t heard of them already – Dakota Pastels up in Washington. Their website is: .


I get a lot of questions about velour paper. Here is a link to one of my Blog posts on the subject of velour paper:

Image: Display of pastels used by Lesley Harrison

13 Responses to Pastels/Velour

  1. Pingback: » My Favorite Pastels

  2. Julie Haines says:

    Hi Leslie. May I just say what a big fan or yours I am. Your work blows me away. I mainly work with oil paint but have a lovely full, wooden boxes set of pastels (no…unfortunately not Sennelier) and I’d love to create the lovely softness you achieve with them. Early days yet 😉

    I bought a book of wildlife art years ago and your snow leopard melted me. I hope that you’re an animal activist as well. Anyway, I just found your site and had to tell you how great I think your work is. 🙂

  3. ?nhorabuena! y mu?has gracias!

    Debería pronunciar que tu ent?ada en el web log me ha sido cie?t?mente p?oducti?o!

    Registrador de temperatura

  4. Kathi Colman says:

    Your recent wolf workshop was too much of a temptation for me to miss. Thank goodness I went! Usually, the thought of dragging art supplies is enough to stop me in my tracks. However, the fact that you had them for sale at your end, and traveling by car, made the difference this time -plus the “draw” of studying with you! Your fabulous book has been my bible for so many years of creating my well-received animal portraits…

    Aside from your sincerity & generosity of sharing every possible tip from your years of experience, your uplifting sense of humor and artistic confidence left a permanent imprint upon me. (That must be why you attracted such a wonderful group of students.).

    I am thrilled that I attended and will forevermore be following your blog now.

    It is a joy to know you, Lesley!


  5. Kathi,

    Aren’t you a sweetheart to write such nice things! thank you! Who would have known that I would love teaching so much since I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming into it!

    And Marianne would be the one to get rid of those question marks that you didn’t want on your post. Marianne, if you read this Kathi accidentally added a bunch of question marks on the end of her post.

    And Kathi… woo-hoo! Thanks for writing! Hope you’ll want to contribute again.

    Happy Painting!!

  6. admin says:

    Oh course I’m reading Lesley… I see all!! 🙂 Question Marks are gone.

  7. Thanks Marianne! I should’ve known that you see everything and know everything! 🙂

  8. Liz Wagar says:

    Another member of the “wolf group” chimes in to agree with Kathi. What a fun time! Thanks for your patience with us Lesley. A workshop with Lesley is always a high point for the year for me. Liz

  9. Thank you Liz! And thank you for your patience with me… I have been inundated with office work and haven’t gotten to your photos yet!

  10. Pam Helms says:

    Lesley, I was wondering how you get your backgrounds so smooth. I have trouble with lines showing when I apply the pastel. I would appreciate any help with this problem. I love your work. Thanks Pam

  11. Pam, I use the side of a soft pastel so that you get a nice broad swath of color and then I blend it with more on top of it.

    Hope that helps!!

  12. Hello lesley

    I have a painting by you with a black and white cat. It has 3 yellow flowers on the left hand side. The number is 161/999. I can’t find it on your web site. The painting is signed by you. I need to know something about it. Is it an original, print?

    I thank you very much,


  13. Lesley says:

    Steve, I can’t think of what print that is but I think it must be “Potting Shed Play” which I painted about 20 years ago. And whenever you see numbers on a painting like that, it means it’s a limited edition print. Hope this helps!

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