Known for generations as one of the world’s most popular soft pastel, Rembrandt pastels occupy a distinct and important segment of most pastel painters’ process.
While not as hard as carre pastels (an extra hard pastels that are less brittle and produce less dust), and not as soft as some of the finishing pastels on the market, Rembrandts are known for their medium softness, their density and consistency. Often called “the workhorse” of the pastel category, this is specifically because of this density and medium touch. Soft enough to easily release colour, but hard enough to draw a sharp line, keep an edge and build multiple layers, the versatility is nearly endless.
Crafted in the Netherlands on a very specialized small extrusion machine, these pastels are uniform in their shape and size, and do not crumble, holding their shape. The recipe varies based on the pigment used, but is the most simple of any product in their range. Pure pigments, and just enough Kaolin clay to hold the pigment together, there is nothing more simple and nothing with as many possibilities as a pastel.
Because of the purity, and solubility of Kaolin clay, these pastels can be rendered into powder, allowing the artist to render a watercolour paint by just adding gum arabic, acrylic paints can be made by adding this to an acrylic binder, or an oil paint by mixing into a drying oil, like linseed or safflower oil.
Each Rembrandt pastel has a unique code which makes the color range easy to navigate:
The first three colour numbers are the colour indicator: 205 – Mars Violet (PR101 pigment code)
From there, the pure pigment is indicated with a 0.5 suffix: 205.5
As more white is added, the suffix number increases, depending on the colour all the way to 12.
As more black is added, the shades are indicated with lower numbers, all the way down to 0.2, which is the lowest value we create, available in 15 new colors.
The versatility and ease of use of Rembrandt soft pastels has caused a resurgence in pastels as a mixed media, since their composition makes them intermixable with many different materials.