Recently, I've been experimenting with the new Pan Pastels made by a US company. They come in flat cakes, and are applied with sponges. The finely ground pigment creates vivid colours and soft, subtle nuances of tone. Blending is easy with the various shaped sponges and Sofft (tm) tools which come in a range of different shapes and sizes.
You can combine the Pan Pastels with pastel pencils for the fine detail and the use of colour shapers, especially the flat chisels allows you to sharpen endges. If you like painting pastels onto sandpaper, as I do, you will find that the use of the sponges for applying and blending the colours avoids the problem of damaging your fingers of the abrasive surface of the sandpaper.
You also use a lot less pastel and there very little dust. I am delighted with the way this new form of pastel paint forces me to use new techniques and develop my style in a new and exciting direction.
Visit the Pan Pastel website to find out more and visit their facebook page, where you will find more of my work in pan pastels displayed. Comments welcome