I’m flying to the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Convention as this wings its way to you. One of the fabulous things there (and you can read about ALL the fabulous things here) is the vendor floor AKA the “candy store.” Lots of yummy pastels to choose from! This brings me to a question I often get about how to build your pastel collection. How do I choose which pastels to get?


How To Select Pastels To Build Your Pastel Collection pastel today gail sibley


 Here are some thoughts:

  • Make sure to have your pastels sorted by value and hue. Doing that reveals any gaps you may have eg you may find you have very few darks in a particular colour. You may find you have many middle-value blues but no light blues.
  • Clarify whether you actually need any more pastels. If not, then think about what other colours or brands you might like to try. Has a certain brand you don’t have been recommended many times over? Maybe it’s time to give it a whirl. What about colours? Maybe, like me you love Fushia and you’d like to build up your own Fushia candy store. Go looking for those in different brands. Of course, you’ll need to be able to purchase individual sticks and that’s not always possible.
  • Maybe you need to try a new brand of pastels to get you out of a boredom slump. Try some new pastels for experimentation, to get you out of your way-too-comfortable way of working. 
  • If you’re on a mission to replace low inventory, make sure you have a list of colours you need. Don’t rely on your visual memory of a colour! (Been there, done that!) Having some small colour swatches of your missing colours is also valuable.
  • Make sure you have a list of the pastels you already own. I’ve been to IAPS and bought the exact same colours which are fine if you want a refill, but not so fine if you’d like some new colours. It becomes pretty obvious which colours I’m attracted to. Sheesh.
  • Figure out a budget. Make it as generous as you can but then stick to it. Constriction often makes for easier decisions!

Let me know if this was helpful info on how to build your pastel collection. And be sure to add to the conversation if you have other thoughts!



Rita Kirkman demos for the Pastel Society of Southern California (PSSC) and you can watch!


Artist Rita Kirkman will be participating in an upcoming webinar on 29th June. Along with Lyn Diefenbach and Nancie King Mertz, we’ll be discussing ways to take your pastel work to the highest level! I hope you’ll join us. Click here to read more and register. 

Rita will also be teaching at Pastel Live. If you don’t know her work, you’ll get a great idea from watching the demo she did for the Pastel Society of Southern California.


Screenshot from the Rita Kirkman video PASTEL TODAY GAIL SIBLEY
Screenshot from the Rita Kirkman video.


Rita Kirkman, Dior, pastel on promied board, 7 x 5in. pastel today gail sibley
Rita Kirkman, Dior, pastel on promied board, 7 x 5in.


  1. I catalogued my pastels right from the beginning and still managed to buy a few duplicates! I have Sennelier, Rembrandt, Mungyo Gallery, Richeson neutrals, and Unisons. I invested in a set of Unison colour charts and that’s helped me navigate their collection to gradually add some more in. One of my main criteria is that there must be open stock available to purchase, so Unison is my go-to brand.

    • Thanks Susan. And good for you cataloguing your pastels right from the start! It’s inevitable we end up with duplicates – there are just some colours we gravitate to.
      Love your criteria and yay to Unison Colour. And yes, their colour charts are sooooooo helpful!


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