I had been dreaming of this set since I first tried a Unison pastel, 4 years ago.
As a professional artist I shouldn’t feel bad about buying art materials, but in this case I did. I am not used to such an abundance of soft pastels in my art studio, not used to spending that amount of money in a single purchase, and certainly not used to the thought that such a treasure was travelling from England to France and taking all… its… time… While I was checking the parcel tracking every hour of every day.
Did I make the right decision? Did I really need so many pastels? Do I deserve them? Am I good enough for this range?
All those questions and the feeling of guilt simply vanished when, eyes wide open, I unpacked the boxes and took a good look at my new pastels. All I could think was “Wow.” They were so beautiful I could not take my eyes off those velvety, deep and vibrant colours.
I am very happy to share my pictures, thoughts and observations about the different boxes, hoping they could answer the questions you might have, inspire you, or simply satisfy your curiosity.
Box 1 : Red Earth / Red / Yellow / Yellow Green Earth
This box is divided into four parts. If we look closely, we can see that the pastels are carefully arranged : Each quarter of the box is divided into 3 rows. Each row represents a hue with its own temperature, that goes either from light to dark or from dark to light.
For example if we take the Reds from 1 to 18 (Bottom left corner), we can see that the first row is the warmest (the reds look more orange) ; the third is the coolest (the reds look more purple) and the second row, in the middle, is the most neutral.
This box is divided into two equal parts. The first half is the complete range of Greens (from 1 to 36) and the second half is the complete range of Brown Earth (from 1 to 36).
Each half is divided into six rows of six pastels of the same hue, represented with different tonal values. Landscape artists often need a lot of greens and browns to replicate the numerous shades they observe in nature, and here they can easily find the appropriate temperature and tone they are looking for.
This box contains 5 different families of colours.
The top left corner is the range of Blue Green from 1 to 36, organized into 3 rows from the warmest to the coolest, and always from dark to light for each row (it will be the case for the rest of the box).
The bottom left corner shows the complete range of Blue Green Earth from 1 to 36, those ones are less intense in their chroma. The three rows are organised from the coolest to the warmest.
On the top middle right part of the box, we can see the wonderful range of Ocean Blue from 1 to 12, created in collaboration with artist Zaria Forman who was looking for very specific blues to paint her fabulous icebergs.
The bottom right corner is the Blue Violet range from 1 to 36, echoing the Blue Green of the left corner top and allowing us to have both warm and cool blues in the same box.
The last row represents a little part of the Dark range, from 19 to 24. They complete this box with beautiful dark blues and purples.
Divided into 2 halves, this box contains the complete range of Unison Grey from 1 to 36 and some of the Additional pastels from 1 to 36.
We can see that the greys are very varied in their temperatures and tonal values. The Additional pastels of the second half complete this box with other greys as well as very vivid reds and yellows.
Here we have another box divided into four equal parts.
The top left corner is the range of Light pastel, a useful selection of coloured whites from the warmests to the coolests.
The bottom left is the rest of the Additional range from 37 to 54, a greyish selection of browns, greens and blues.
The top right corner is the beautiful range of Natural Earth from 1 to 24, made from genuine Italian earth, extremely useful for realistic animal painting.
And the bottom right corner ends the Dark (1 to 24) Dark 24 was created in collaboration with artist Robert Dutton. Irresistible velvety browns, greens and blues allow us for the deepest contrasts in any subject.
The last box is a set of 18 pastels : the Portrait range from 1 to 12 and the Orange range from 1 to 6. A selection of peachy and purple pinks gathered in this handy little box.
The storage of soft pastels is always a big subject to discuss.
A few years ago, I got rid of all my storage boxes and I gathered all my pastels by hue and temperature in mini-containers. I found that it was easier for me to mix all the different brands I had, allowing me to focus on the colour I needed rather than the texture.
But that was before I put my hands on this wonderful collection, so cleverly organised.
Now I just lay all my boxes on my table (Working on an easel saves so much space on the desk) and I can pick them as I need, or I can select them at the beginning of my painting and put them in an extra box (ready to replace them on the right spot when the painting is finished).
I love the fact that I just have to look at the sticks that are placed next to the one I have selected to find the same hue in a lighter or in a darker tone. This is so convenient and it saves me precious painting time.
Well, we will see if I manage to keep them that way or if my tendency to art chaos finally comes into play. Anyways I feel that the organisation of the workspace remains a work in progress for a lot of artists, don’t you think ?