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 have  spent the last 45 years refining the formula to create a smooth, flowing pastel that is as rich in pigment as possible. 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 I 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. I 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 with pumice for a more linear drawing in a limited palate. It is good for travel and landscape.

We have some new products available now! I have been working to reformulate all my pastels for less dust and greater permanency. I encourage color mixing and layering on a slightly gritty surface in order to get colors to resonate with utmost clarity and economy.While I love the fragile nature of pastel, I don’t much like it on the floor!


Figment pastel is a new pastel that I have been making and it has very little dust and adheres to the paper dry or on a wet surface. There is no dust at all when applied to a lightly misted surface and it dries with very little pastel that can be rubbed off. Figment pastel is designed for greater permanence and can make an excellent line or tone. It is great for layering especially if the Dry Ground is applied to the paper first. Figment pastel can be handled like any work on paper and single matted under glass or plexiglass. It resists static pull!

We have a new Dry Ground made of pumice that is lightly colored for application directly on a paper without water in order to support layers of pastel. This tool is good for travel and working in tablets of paper that you can prepare as you work. No need for brushing on a ground and waiting for it to dry while you figure out how to keep your paper from moving! A roll of wax paper to interleave works is all you need.