Tuesday 18 March 2014

Insider Secrets: PanPastels

Design Team member Joanne Allison reviews her favourite stamping product and tells us what she loves about PanPastels! 

I came to the PanPastel party a bit late but just recently I've bought myself a few and have been having great fun experimenting!

PanPastels are an artist-grade medium. They’re like a stick pastel but they come in cake form (hence ‘pan’) and you can use soft sponge tools to apply them. They cover and blend almost like paint but there’s no waiting around while they dry. Despite being a pastel, they are extremely low-dust – the texture makes me think of expensive, high-quality make-up! 

The concentration of pigment is really high so a little goes a very long way and each colour comes in a tint, the pure tone, a shade and an extra dark version. As they are extremely blendable, you can create new colours by mixing what you have. A decent quality eraser will get rid of any mistakes for you on most surfaces!

Colours will continue to blend as you apply new layers so if you’ve achieved the look you want, it’s advisable to fix your work. Many people use cheap hairspray but I quickly decided I liked them enough that I’d invest in a fixative. Look out for a ‘workable’ one (so you can continue to add stuff over the top if you want to) and take note of any precautions on the container. I opted for the SpectraFix Degas fixative as it’s a natural product and in a pump dispenser so it’s safe to use indoors with no harmful vapours.

For this piece, I decided to try a fairly detailed ‘painting’ using a stamped image as my guide and try out a couple of ‘classic’ PanPastel techniques with VersaMark and stencilling. I used cheap canvas as my base – it’s the sort sold for inkjet printing that you could find in your local £1 shop!

I used four PanPastels here – Diarylide Yellow, Orange, Permanent Red and Permanent Red Shade. The Stampendous Jumbo Rose was stamped a couple of times in an ink that would almost ‘disappear’ once the image was coloured. I coloured the background flower very simply and then used orange and the two shades of red for the foreground flower. A Sofft tool with a sponge cover allowed me to do detailed strokes, using the stamped image as a guide.

To try out the pastels as a base for other media, I mixed things up a bit with some dark red acrylic paint for lowlights and a white Posca pen for highlights, too! To add interest to the yellow background, I stamped the swirl in Versamark and lightly swiped over with orange PanPastel. I also sponged through some drywall tape with the same orange. 

I would advise fixing the pastels before stamping a sentiment. If you stamp straight onto a pastel surface, there’s the risk that the stickiness of the inked stamp will lift the pastel rather than leave a clear impression.

I hope the variety of approaches on this project will give you some ideas for playing with PanPastels yourself!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. Such lovely blends of colours..I would love to play with some panpastels they are on my wishlist x

  2. Working with PanPastels for over a year at the PanPastel Benelux blog I am still so excited about them! I used it on so many materials and with so many technics! The team is trying to find materials that you cannot mixe with PanPastels and they have showed so many technics over the last 1,5 year.... http://panpastelbnl.blogspot.nl/ I know there is a blog in the UK aswell, where they show thechnics.... Inky greetings, Gerrina

  3. beautiful - I love pan pastels too and haven't really played with them nearly enough xx

  4. Great review Joanne, still haven't invested in these but think I might go ahead !