It’s Fav Friday! 

What do I mean by that?

I ask a member of our Advisory Board this question:

What pastel stick (colour and brand) can you not do without?

We’ve had a number of answers over the past few Fridays and today we hear from Tony Allain.

Are you curious? I sure am!

And hah, Tony kinda went his own route with his answer.

Here’s his answer: My number one stick is black charcoal pastel from Inscribe.


Inscribe charcoal
Inscribe charcoal.


“My working process is a fairly standard one. Whether it be in oil or pastels, I generally paint from dark to light and what’s known as fat over lean (thin paint followed by thicker paint).  

I tend not to use a wet wash or alcohol underpainting preferring to go straight in with the pastel. I am currently using LaCarte pastel card which is allergic to liquid. 

I like to start by using this black charcoal pastel with broad side marks as I map out the composition. This allows me to pitch my darkest darks. It’s important for me to see the bones of the main elements of the composition. 


Tony Allain, Initial sketch with charcoal
Tony Allain, Initial sketch with charcoal.


This black charcoal stick is a semi-hard type and leaves a good stable base on the support. Once I’m happy with this initial blocking in stage, I can then start to build up the various layers, painting always from dark to light. I’m also always checking each value as I progress,  adding the lightest touches that will kiss the paper as my final mark-making.”

Super interesting to know this! (I have an old box of charcoal sticks like this…but other than for some life drawing, I haven’t used them. Time to pull them out perhaps!)

But Tony didn’t stop there.

He had a second answer.

“My fav pastel sticks are: Blue Violet 4, Blue Violet 9, Blue Violet 10, Blue Violet 16, all from Unison Colour.”


The Unison Colour pastels -right BV4, BV9, BV10, BV16
The Unison Colour pastels -left to right BV4, BV9, BV10, BV16.


“As a predominantly landscape painter, it’s important for me when painting big panoramic summer-type landscapes, to pitch the colour and value of the sky. This sets the whole feel of the painting’s time of day, direction of light, and of course weather conditions. These elements of a composition will play an important part in the picture-making process and will usually determine if the painting succeeds as a well-balanced composition that is not only pleasing to the eye but also catches the attention of the viewer.


Tony Allain pastel painting - feature
Tony Allain pastel painting


When I’m confronted with a snow scene here in my Scottish surroundings, my Unison Colour Blue Violet 4 pastel is my main workhorse for capturing the subtle changes in colour temperature as shadows are cast across the winter landscape.”


Tony Allain, "Snow at the Balloch," pastel on sanded paper, 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 in
Tony Allain, “Snow at the Balloch,” pastel on sanded paper, 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 in


I hope you loved hearing about Tony’s favs as much as I did. Were you surprised? Or not? Isn’t it fascinating to hear the different advisory board members’ choices?



After motherhood, this artist found her way into pastel world


Meet Susan Jenkins.

Susan considers herself a self-taught artist who knew she wanted to be an artist from her childhood. Although she majored in graphic design, she was soon deeply involved in being a mom, “the best job ever.” 

As the years progressed and she could fit a bit of “me time,” her desire to be an artist was rekindled. 

“It wasn’t easy, since I had no financial resources for lessons, and the internet world wasn’t what it is today. Soft pastels seemed to be a practical medium for me – after all, they wouldn’t dry up. They would wait patiently in between my many tasks.”

As Susan struggled to learn how to use the medium, almost quitting along the way, she fell in love with these sticks of colour. She also found the more she learned, the more she wanted to share and her YouTube Channel – Monet’s Cafe – was born.

“I’m so blessed to experience the beauty of how such a diverse group of people can share their artistic passions in such a beautiful way.’


Susan Jenkins, Blue Flowers
Susan Jenkins, Blue Flowers.

And that’s it for this time!




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