For a little present to myself, I invested in two 60 piece half stick sets of Great American pastels. I'm a big fan of the recent trend toward half stick sets. It saves a lot of time unwrapping and breaking the pastel sticks, and half is plenty for most colors. Great American pastels are very, very soft, and come in square sticks, which are particularly handy. I had a fair number of them already, but they came out with these new sets with excellent color selections. I surely do not need any more pastels, but it's like getting a brand new set of 64 colors of crayons as a kid. The packaging was about the best I've seen. The bottom part of the boxes are made of something like balsa wood, very sturdy, and there was plenty of foam under, over, and all around. They also included color charts for you to fill in for color identification, very useful. The pictures show the sets with color charts filled in. First the good news. The color selections are indeed luscious, with a full range of hues, values and saturations. The size is actually more than half stick size, more like two-third stick size, which is about right. The bad news, which isn't all that bad, is that a few of the colors were oddly and unpleasantly hard, which was quite unexpected. There were only four of them out of the 120 new sticks though, so maybe they had a bad batch of something. Next step: to integrate them into The Square Set.
Nancy Freeman is a native of California who lives now in Washington, DC. A lifelong artist, she paints portraits and other commissions for a living, which keeps her traditional skills tuned and supports her decades-old obsession with computer art, and pastel painting.
She is currently using her 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th computers, but remembers when Dick Tracy had to make do with a two-way wrist radio.