We are bringing back Customer Reviews of the Month. Leave an informative and detailed review on Jackson’s Website and be in to win a £25 Jackson’s Voucher as well as have your review published here. This month Derbyshire-based artist Geoff Chilton shares his thoughts on Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels.
Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels
Reviewed by Geoff Chilton
A bit like Marmite, pastels are funny things – you either love them or hate them. But once you’re used to painting with pure pigment, there’s nothing quite like it. I’ve been using pastels for over twenty years and the search for that elusive ‘perfect’ quality has become something of an obsession. I bought a few of Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels a few years ago and I was really surprised at the quality.
I don’t like ‘chalky’ pastels; the smoother the better for me, but the combination of the right stick and the right paper is crucial. The Jackson’s pastels will stay put on just about any ground, from coarse ‘honeycomb’ papers to smooth cartridge. As a professional artist I’m constantly striving for something indefinable in my work and I don’t want to have to think too much about materials, I need to know exactly what they’ll do and these Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels are extremely reliable. In my mixed media paintings, I sometimes use soft pastels on top of an underpainting of acrylics or even layers of dry oils, the latter combination is very satisfying and one which I use a lot, particularly over a scrubbed ground.
I frequently use them on thick smoothish cartridge paper, too and they stay put really well. There are plenty of brands on the market that are much more expensive, but a pastel that costs £4.80 isn’t necessarily twice as good as one that costs £2.40! Of course, it depends what you’re looking for but the nice thing about the Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels is the fact that they’re so adaptable. In a pure pastel painting I can build up many layers of pigment with a light spray of fixative and work any colour on top, even hues that are much darker, and there’s a lot of pigment in the Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels which makes them quite intense. Because of this intensity and the smoothness of the stick itself, they blend well together, so you don’t need to buy dozens of pastels of different tints if you don’t want to.
I like the fact that they come in themed sets, too, with 14 related colours: Dark, Landscape, Woodland etc. Though my latest purchase was a set of 14 colours which you get to choose yourself, a great way to build up a palette of exactly you colours you want. Their mossy greens and olives are perfect for painting the colours of the Derbyshire moorland where I do much of my sketching.
My experience with Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels has encouraged me to try some of their other products: Jackson’s Artist Oil Paints which are beautifully buttery and smell sublime! I’ve also used their Jackson’s Professional Acrylic Paint too and so far I’ve been impressed with the results.
About Geoff Chilton
Geoff Chilton is an award-winning professional artist who works from his studio in Buxton, Derbyshire. He is Resident Artist at the Green Man Gallery, Buxton. He has exhibited with the Royal Society of Marine Artists, the Royal Cambrian Academy and the Manchester Academy of Fine Art, of which he was a former council member, the Colin Jellicoe Gallery in Manchester, the Woodstone Gallery, Lincolnshire and the Jetty Gallery, Oban. His work is in private collections in the UK and as far away as Norway and Japan