Sarah Dyer Curates Units of Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels

It was a dream to be requested to curate a number of new smooth pastel units from the 200 color vary of Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels. Jackson’s Mushy Pastels are prime quality, artist grade pastels, they’re fastidiously made by hand which makes them very smooth with a easy buttery consistency. They’ve a low binder to pigment ratio which makes them wealthy and luminous, permitting for each refined and daring mark making. Jackson’s have some themed units already that are fashionable so it was nice to have the ability to assume how these new units I used to be curating would work alongside them.



All 200 colors of the Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels had been despatched to me to check in my studio – they turned up in packing containers of 14 and after I laid them out in entrance of me they regarded like little jewels of color. Their glorious lightfast qualities imply that pastel work created with them won’t deteriorate over time. The three fluorescent colors are the one exception; like all fluorescent colors they don’t seem to be lightfast. The pastels are made solely from pigments, a bentonite clay binder, and calcium carbonate (chalk). Every pastel measures roughly 55 mm in size and 15 mm in diameter.



I began by swatching every field and labelling the numbers and color names of every beneath. I swatched on a Clairefontaine PaintOn Multi-Method Pads with 250 gsm 100% cellulose paper constituted of uncooked supplies from sustainably managed forests. It’s a white paper with a really slight texture. The feel is helpful in holding extra color on the web page, and whereas it’s not my most popular paper to work on, I do assume it provides the most effective illustration of the true color of the pastels and I didn’t need to be confused by cream or off white paper in my sketchbook.



I referred again to those color swatches in making my decisions. All of the swatches I pinned up on my studio wall so I may see at a fast look the vary accessible. I wished to intuitively select colors based mostly partly on what I like to attract, colors I’m naturally drawn to and likewise enthusiastic about different small smooth pastel units I already personal and incessantly attain for. I just lately went on the Colour Workshop course run by Juliet Docherty and located that gave me nice confidence in having the ability to choose for the units.


Panorama Set of 28 Handmade Mushy Pastels

I began with the Panorama Set of 28 as I felt it will be the toughest set to resolve on. I wished the panorama set to cowl extra than simply foliage panorama – significantly to be helpful in city environments too. I’ve included extra muted tones on this set in comparison with say the starter set, however while additionally ensuring I’ve sufficient mild and darkish shades too. Generally after swatching a gaggle of colors I’d take a photograph on my cellphone and change it to black and white mode so I may double test the values of the colors chosen. I needed to go away the panorama 28 set and are available again to it on the finish as I used to be discovering it too tough to slender down!


Handmade Soft Pastels

Panorama Set of 28 – Check 00


Handmade Soft Pastels

Panorama Set of 28 – Check 01


Handmade Soft Pastels

Panorama Set of 28 – Check 02


Portrait Set of 56 Handmade Mushy Pastels

I made a decision to maneuver on to the Portrait 56 set. I felt extra snug selecting this set. It’s a topic I like to attract so much and so I felt assured realizing what I and hopefully others would need out of an even bigger set. I based mostly my choices on the 28 Portrait set that Jackson’s have already got accessible. I felt that there have been colors lacking appropriate for shadows so I added in some blue hues to the set and a few muted greys and beiges too. I discover if the mannequin is towards a white wall having these colors is so helpful in describing a background, or shadow. I additionally included a couple of pops of color I believed may be useful for cheeks and lips – Vermillion Orange and Apricot Pink specific favourites. I additionally added in another darks, Darkish Umber for very darkish hair or pores and skin tones and likewise Burnt Umber to offer one other darkish alternative but additionally a hotter brown for pores and skin tone too. The opposite colors, greens, burgundy reds and yellows really feel like good all spherical helpful colors to have if doing a portrait with some clothes or props. I’ve hopefully coated sufficient bases so this 56 set would have all you wanted.


Portrait Set of 56


Starter Units of 28 and 56 Handmade Mushy Pastels

In selecting the Starter set of 28 I took the unique 14 set Jackson’s already has and thought of the place there have been potential lacking hues or values. The 14 starter set is usually a brighter assortment of colors and so I wished to maintain that in thoughts but additionally herald complementary hues alongside the brights. I’ve included extra muted greens and a lighter and darker blue in addition to together with pale peach and heat browns for panorama or easy portraits.


Starter Set of 28


Making this starter set right into a set of 56 then grew to become simpler as I added in-between the colors already chosen slight varieties in tone. Growing the vary of blues, greens, reds and yellows accessible to attempt to cowl all bases. I’ve additionally included each whites, a cool and a heat and a handful of muted greys which I hope will probably be helpful set for individuals beginning out in addition to skilled artists.


Handmade Soft Pastels

Starter Set of 56


Sea and Sky Set of 28 Handmade Mushy Pastels

The Sea and Sky set of 28 was one other actually beautiful one to sort out. I generally seize the ocean in my drawings because it’s native to me and may respect the ever-changing palette of it so wished to ensure I coated all bases of winter gray British seas via to extra tropical climbs! I generally trace at a sky in my drawings nevertheless it’s not one thing I sort out usually. I consulted a good friend that likes to seize skies, and specifically sunsets, concerning the palette I’d picked to date to ensure I’d included sufficient peaches and heat tones to have the ability to create a night sky via to nighttime too. I’m hoping the heat and flexibility of the Apricot pastel will be capable to do these dusky night skies justice. The pop of color from having Fluorescent Purple within the set will add to sunsets in addition to probably seize the hints of fishing life discovered on the seas – which is a selected favorite subject material for me. Then the muted greys will probably be helpful on wet days when the sky is boring or dramatic, and I hope may work so as to add in a touch of panorama, rocks, cliffs and so on when out maybe utilizing the set for observational drawing.


Sea and Sky Set of 28 – Check 01


Sea and Sky Set of 28 – Check 02


After finishing these units I used to be feeling extra assured in my color decisions having swatched the smooth pastels a number of instances testing numerous combos of colors. I got here again to the primary Panorama 28 check I did and felt that it was maybe too secure in color decisions, possibly too just like smooth pastel units by different manufacturers already on the market. I went on to attempt one other couple of potential combos of the 28. I actually wished it to operate as the proper set for somebody after a lot of completely different colors to make use of in lots of environments however that was much less shiny in hue to the Starter 28 set. This Panorama Set I hope has sufficient pure colors to have the ability to seize fields, foliage, via to hotter landscapes, rocks, and seashores, while additionally being helpful in city settings. The inclusion of some colors could appear shocking – significantly Blue Violet and Fluorescent pink. Nevertheless when positioned among the many very muted palette of the colors I’d chosen I simply felt they introduced all of it to life. I see this set working rather well for somebody that maybe enjoys blended media – a beautiful addition so as to add texture excessive of paint, brush pens or working alongside color pencil.


Panorama Set of 28 – Check 03


Panorama Set of 56 Handmade Mushy Pastels

The Panorama 56 set was a lot simpler to place collectively as soon as I’d dedicated to the 28 set of pastels. It felt very nice to have the ability to add within the further colors and I really feel this set is a very good all rounder now. Once more capable of sort out a mess of environments, so if you happen to had been a pure pastel painter you wouldn’t want for anything on location. I feel this set and the Portrait 56 are my favorite units.


Panorama Set of 56 – Check 01


Handmade Soft Pastels

Panorama Set of 56 – Check 02


It was arduous to stay completely unbiased in curating the Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels units. I positively discovered I leant in the direction of sure colors – I feel naturally as artists we’ve got our personal color palettes, colors we select to make use of frequently and colors that convey robust feelings. There additionally gave the impression to be colors I’d attain for time and again from the number of 200 and that simply appeared to work so properly subsequent to a lot of different colors. Hopefully these colors will show to be actually versatile within the units. Particularly Smalt Blue White appears to be in nearly each set in addition to Pale Peach and Gentle Gray Inexperienced being one other couple of colors I simply couldn’t assist however return to. I actually hope individuals benefit from the units I’ve put collectively and discover them a welcome addition to their artwork observe.



Additional Studying

Pastel Portray With Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels

Utilizing Mushy Pastels for Observational Drawing

All the things You Must Know About Pastel Paper

Contained in the Sketchbook of Sarah Dyer


Store Jackson’s Handmade Mushy Pastels Units on


Sarah Dyer

Sarah Dyer is an image ebook maker and illustrator. She enjoys working outdoors on location for reference and color which feeds again into her ebook work. In between writing and illustrating Sarah attends festivals and colleges to hold out occasions and workshops and she or he additionally teaches on the Basis course at Kingston College.