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Luxury Gifts For Artists
My previous articles about artists' gifts focussed on the low price and mid ranges, so I guess this is my wish list if money was no object. Other than buying my own gallery/studio/cafe to showcase artists' work, these are the things that any pastel artist would love.
If money were no object, I would love the entire set of Unison full-size pastel sticks. The pastels come in various set sizes, often the largest for sale commercially is the 72 pastel set in either starter, landscape or portrait. However the entire range comprises almost 400 pigments and can be ordered from Unison Colour Online, or singly via artists' suppliers. I would never again have to utter the phrase 'of course you can never find exactly the right green/blue/red etc.,' which is something I must say a dozen times a day when I am teaching.
These pastels, hand-made in Yorkshire have a suberb, creamy texture and vibrant natural pigments and are the ones I use the most.
Pastel Storage Box
If I had the full set of Unison Pastels, It would be wonderful to have some wooden storage boxes to keep them in. Unison pastels are currently produced in a rigid, black card box, which is fine, but wooden ones would be so much nicer.
There are several types on the market, with varying prices, some have divided lift-out trays, whereas some have slide out drawers. Either style would work well. Although each storage box set would cost only around $80 or £50, to store the whole 400 Unison sticks you would probably need around four boxes.
If you filled the base of each compartment with ground rice or polenta, your pastels would 'self-clean' every time you put them away, thus reducing the pastel dust mess that tends to follow any creation.
Hand Held Vacuum Cleaner
A vital piece of equipment for the pastel artist is a hand held vacuum cleaner. it may seem a little over the top, but pastel painting creates dust. Pastel dust is very fine and could cause coughing and sneezing in susceptible people. This is not so bad when there's just one person pastelling away, but when I'm teaching a whole group, the room would quickly fill with pastel dust if I didn't have a hand held vacuum cleaner with me. I don't vacuum up around people constantly, but when students are removing pastel from their work using a brush, i switch on the vac and hold the nozzle under the brush, so the dust goes straight into the cleaner rather than floating in the atmoshpere.
I personally favour the Dyson DC34, which is light in wieght, but has really good suction. It has a lithium battery, and I can use the vacuum either plugged in or on battery, which is easier when I'm trying to work around easels. There are two power settings, so you can use the regular level and get good vacuum suction for 15 minutes constant use, or use high power and get 70% more suction for 6 minutes constantly. For a pastel workshop I use the vacuum on regular power in short bursts only and it lasts for the whole day usually.
It's also great for getting dog hair off my stairs at home!
Sennelier Wooden Boxed Sets
My second choice of pastels would be a wooden box of Sennelier pastels. These pastel sticks are made in France and have a superb creamy texture. Their pigments are also very clear, bright and light fast. Sennelier are the second most used pastels in my art work, although I don't have a huge range to work from, so a big boxed set would be a real boon to have. The painting of sheep, below uses Sennelier pastels for some of the highlights.