La Maison du Pastel has launched new line of “Petits Roché”, a reduced-selection of half-stick pastels. They are available to date in 3-piece and 12-piece sets, and a further 36-piece set should be available in the spring of 2012. The 3-piece sets come as “Discovery”, “Portrait” or “Landscape” sets, and if you are like me and would like to try these famous pastels this might be a good deal. If you would like to order go to their website and check under Contact how and where you can order. La Maison du Pastel team, refreshed by Margaret, are also in the process of developing an online shop. To find out more about these pastels you can read one of the older posts about Henry Roche pastels.
Are you a soft pastel artist who still haven’t tried the most famous pastels in the world? Well, join the club :). I promised myself I will buy a small set the first time I’m completely happy with my painting. While that can still take some time I can at least surf on the net to see why there is so much noise about the Henri Roché pastels. The legend says that the old masters of impressionism used these beautiful pastels. Degas, Chéret, Whistler, Sisley, and later on Bussy, Vuillard, Poliakoff and many others have by their expectations contributed to the elaboration of Roché pastels. The pastel set grew up to 1800 pieces at the peak of production before Second World War and the collection of 1650 colors won the gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition in 1937. I guess the old masters were making a lot of money if they could have afforded such exclusive pastels :). The production of these pastels is having a second life since the Isabelle Roché took over the business from her relatives in 2000. Before that there was a small operation run by three elderly sisters carrying on the work of their grandfather, Henri Roché. When the oldest sister was asked why she is still maintaining no profit business at the age of 85 she said “She didn’t want to let the artists down.”
Today Isabelle is producing palette of 600 Henri Roché soft pastels and you can visit her website “La Maison du Pastel”. The website is very nice and you can almost feel the spirits of the old soft pastel masters.
The price for a single stick is from 15$ to 20$ and you can find them at Rochester Art Supply. I found the better deals for the sets on the Amazon.
A couple of resources: a very entertaining story by Barry Katz published in the Pastel Journal 2007. Interesting story from Reuters 2008. Short interview with Isabelle on youtube.
Many artists complain that Canson Mi-Teintes paper is not lightfast enough – meaning that the color would eventually fade when the paper is exposed to sunlight for some time. The pastelist Marsha Hamby Savage who mainly uses this paper for her soft pastel paintings is explaining in her blog how to prepare Canson paper to endure more light. Marsha is an expert in using this paper while the great deal of the soft pastel artists, including me, are having nightmares where they are left with no sanded paper in sight.