Why I fell in love with Mount Vision Pastels
I have always loved small businesses, especially family-owned. These businesses are the backbone of the US economy because they create a multiplier effect; money you spend in their store is multiplied in the local economy. These businesses pay local rent, hire local employees, bank in small local banks, etc. This multiplier effect means $1 spent in the small business has the economic impact of $2 because it changes hands so many times before it gets deposited in a bank outside the community (like a big corporate bank.)
As an artist, I want to support other artists and small businesses, so I source my materials from these companies. Over the years, you get to know them, and develop a relationship with them. This is how I fell in love with Mount Vision Pastels. (Other companies I use include Florida Frames, Ampersand Pastelbord, UArt, Richeson Pastel)
This company has only been making pastels for 20 years, and started in NY not far from where I used to live. It is owned by Karl Kelly who is an artist as well as making the best pastels for the money. His little shop is in a warehouse area in Tampa that is difficult to get to, but worth the visit. You often find him with an assistant rolling and wrapping the latest batches of pastels that he hand makes in a big mixer, and dries in the Florida sun.
There's no sign, so the only way you would know he's there is the trays of colorful pastels drying in front of the building.
What made me love the pastels, is that they have a buttery-smooth consistency that applies thickly and with no lumps of binder or pigment. You can build up layer over layer of pigment.
As a binder, he uses chalks, which is unusual, and pigments that are true to color, but not as toxic as cadmiums, cobalts and other heavy metals. There's page on his website which shows his process: http://www.mountvisionpastels.com/making.htm This means the pastels are less toxic than other brands which use heavy metals.
I have arthritis and grasping small things has become increasingly more difficult over the years. Mount Vision pastels are thicker and longer than most pastels and are easier for me to hold. They also come simply packaged and barely wrapped, so that I can easily take the label off and use the whole side of the pastel for laying in color. Other pastels glue the labels on and require a razor blade to take it off.
I tend to apply pastel thickly, like oil paint, and use sanded Ampersand Pastelbord as my main surface because it can hold thick applications (up to 22) without flaking off. If you have ever framed a pastel with a mat under glass, only to see that mat become discolored over the years from falling pastel then you know my pain!
I've not had that problem with Mount Vision or Ampersand products. Once a year, I make a trip to Mount Vision's small factory store (make sure you email Karl to see if he will be there ahead of time). In the store, you can purchase single colors so if you bought sets of pastels in the past and need a few colors, or want to broaden your choices of violets, etc. you can choose which ones you want.
Recently (for my birthday) I headed up to my favorite candy store and splurged on some really tasty colors. While expressing my undying love and affection for the pastels, Karl mentioned that he had some colors I could offer my students to use as samples of his pastels. I left with a box of pastels that I am now making available for anyone who signs up for the Pastel Techniques class I offer at Dunedin Fine Arts Center.
Pastel Techniques with Shawn Dell Joyce PA110 Thursday, 6-9p Summer I PA111 Monday, 1-4p, Fall II Tuition $167 M / $197 NM Beginner Learn how to use soft pastel to create different effects from transparent glass to polished copper. Use different strokes and tools with pastel to create different effects like optical mixing and layering. Work with new tools, and under paintings, fixatives, and framing techniques. Great class for someone learning pastel who wants to hone their skills and become a better painter.
https://www.dfac.org/the-art-of-social-distancing/adult-education-the-art-of-social-distancing/ (please note that this class is not on the website yet and you may have to register in person or over the phone (727) 298-3322
How to buy Mount Vision Pastels: sets: https://www.jerrysartarama.com/mount-vision-soft-pastel-sets I recommend the Thunderstorm set and the Tropical Colors set:
You can purchase in person at Dick Blick in Tampa or visit the factory store at:
2705 East Hanna Ave. Unit C. Tampa, Florida 33610
Phone:(813) 732- 9006