A favorite of Renaissance artists, Old Masters, and Impressionists, chalk pastels have a history as rich as their pigment. Made of powdered pigment and a binder, pastels come in stick form and all colors of the rainbow. First produced in the 1400s, pastels were made popular by da Vinci. By the mid-1800s, French artists Delacroix, Manet, and Millet worked in pastels. A pastels innovator, Degas created many of his iconic dancer portraits with them. In the late 1800s, Whistler and Cassatt popularized them in the US. Today, artists value pastels for their rich pigment and easy layering. A rewarding medium, chalk pastels yield beautiful compositions that require no dry time and remain workable until sprayed with a fixative. Try out the age-old medium and browse our best chalk-set picks below.
1. Prismacolor Premier NuPastel Color Sticks
This 36-color pack of pastels includes necessary artist colors such as cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna. Composed of rich, velvety pigment, these pastels have less breakage and produce less dust than your average stick. Use the chalk dry to produce colors that match the Prismacolor palette, or crush them into a powder and mix the dust with water, to lay down vibrant liquid layers.
2. Jack Richeson Street Stix Pastels
Nontoxic, acid-free, and rain durable, these Street Stix are ideal for creating outdoor murals and sidewalk art. The jumbo size of each stick makes filling in large surface areas a breeze, and the highly pigmented colors blend well to produce vibrantly colored effects. With 12 sticks per pack, each set includes colors ranging from scarlet to violet.
3. Loew-Cornell Chalk Pastels
A great buy for the classroom, these chalk pastels come at a fraction of the price, compared to other products on this list. Both nontoxic and acid-free, these pastels are safe to use for kids and won’t fade over time. Featuring 24 colors per pack, each stick is equal parts vibrant and velvety, and the wide assortment guarantees colorful compositions.
4. Sargent Art Colored Square Chalk Pastels
This set of chalk pastels includes 12 vibrant colors and is another high-quality product that comes at a low price. The smooth, dry texture of the chalk facilitates excellent color control and blending abilities, and the nontoxic composition renders these sticks a safe material for kids. Easily blended with minimal dust, this set includes fine artist shades such as ochre, phthalo green, and cobalt blue.
5. Colour Block Soft Pastel Art Set
Those in the market for a fully stocked set should look no further than this 100-piece pack. Packaged in a latched wooden box, this set is well organized and well protected. Easily create crisp, thin lines, fuzzy bold strokes, and well-blended tones, thanks to these premium-grade pastels. Featuring every color from viridian to vermillion, this is the most complete set on the list.