Products from Diane Townsend
Diane Townsend Artists’ Pastels are hand made soft pastels for artists. I began making them in 1971 with a 15th century Italian formula translated by a conservationist I shared a studio with. I,and eventually together with my spouse, have spent the next 47 years refining the formula to create a smooth, flowing pastel that is as rich in pigment as possible. Pastels are essentially pigments lightly bound together with a binder and a variety of particles that aid in the application of pigments. Pumice is part of the structure of all my pastels. The purpose of it is to create an even flow to all colors because some pigments are too hard while others too soft. Pumice also helps break open the surface of paper, enabling the pigment to enter the fibers of paper and adhere well. Then layering and mixing your colors can begin as you develop your pastel work.
The Soft Form pastels are designed to fit my hand and with easel painting in mind. They are easy to apply, pick up and put down as you work. Later we designed the Terrages pastel for a more vigorous approach to drawing. These pastels are larger, more square. They too, have pumice in them to grip the paper. We worked on this pastel with Wolf Kahn to achieve a consistancy that he wanted. The idea was to break the surface of the paper and grind the pastel with pumice stone into it to support and disperse the colors. Terrages pastels are good for larger works on an easel or wall. The Thin Line pastel is a much thinner pastel for those who like a slender stick. Thin Line colors are a limited selection from the Soft Form colors.
We shape all of our pastels by hand and prefer not to use molds or any other means of shaping pastels. The reason is that hand rolling and compressing distributes the particles randomly in a mix that gives a better flow when drawing. Imagine all the molecules of pigments lined up in a straight line. They might not be as strong as molecules mixed up in different sizes and shapes. The flow will be much better in the mixed pastel.
For about 5 years now, we have been tinkering with our formulas to see if we can make a pastel that has less dust and is less fragile in handling and more permanent sticking on the paper. Our pastels today are all made with the new formula that essentially coats each particle to make it sticker and heavier so as not to become airborne!