Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Playing with Pan Pastels - Review

So basically, I try all the new art gizmos and fads, so you don't have to.  I consider it a little service to humanity, NOT that I am at all addicted to trying new things, nope.

Pan Pastels are all over the art blogosphere lately, and they looked like fun, so of course I had to get some to try them out.  They look like this...

They have a nice texture, creamier than regular chalk, and have a great, watercolor-y look when blended.  They go on quickly: this page took maybe a half-hour (using stencils)...

 (ignore the stitching from the other side of the page)
The biggest downside to them is that they are messy.   REALLY messy.  You are breathing it in and it's-all-over-the-table messy.   Personally, I don't like that.  I don't mind paint mess, but dusty mess just bugs me.

As you're working, it's hard not to bump into previous layers and muddy them (apparently you can spray workable fixative over each color as it goes down, but hello, I have a life).   Then when you're done, you have to get it to STAY on the damn page.  It took me three coats of matte fixative before the color stopped rubbing off.   That's a heckuva lot of spray. 

On the other hand, it's pretty;

In Summary--

Pros: Pretty, blendable, quick to apply, erasable, and if you love chalks or pastels they are awesome.

Cons: Dusty-messy, on the expensive side, requires a lot of spraying of fixative.

As for me, I can tell this will not be a go-to item for my art journaling, but I'm sure I'll play with them once in a while now that I've got them.   I won't be buying more though. 


  1. I don't find them very messy at all. Unlike craft pastels, you only need to swipe your applicator across the pan pastel, to pick up your color. Swiping more times than that, probably do cause lots of excess dust. Try it again, using a lighter hand when picking up your color, and maybe you'll enjoy them more. They are such a quick and easy medium! I love them, especially with stencils, like you did.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Debbie! I'll keep that in mind next time I use them. They were definitely less messy than pastel sticks - maybe I was expecting too much.

  3. Lovely page. I hope you make more pages using Pan Pastels. You definitely have a knack for creating beautiful pages with them - even if the mess is a bother.

  4. Simply lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I took a class to find out what I was doing wrong - to get all that messy dust. Turns out that once the color pigment is on the surface, I needed to really work the color pigment into the paper. Now I happily scrub it in after I have laid a layer down and LOVE the results. Finally I know why others rave about Pans and find I use it to color in the backgrounds of my painted pages all the time. (Once the paint is good and dry!)

    1. Oh, good to know! I will work on that next time - that might make a difference.

  6. i'd love to try these and it's been interesting to read your review and experience as well as the comments. i'm wondering if you will post about the pan pastels again as you try some of the various suggestions?

    i really like your blog and will be adding you to my sidebar.


    1. Your comments are so kind and inspiring! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave them =)

  7. Thanks for sharing your expertise and your toys! And for being my table mate, it was a lovely weekend!