Pastel Painting supply list

Painting with pastels requires a few key supplies. Here I offer an overview of things to consider for surfaces and pastels. Then I list your needs by section: must have, should have, could have. No hard-and-fast rules apply here. It's art and we all have our own preferences. This is a guideline and I hope you find it helpful.

In general, for pastel consider these supply needs

a SURFACE to work on -
select one or more from this list:
Sennelier Pastel Card (Available in pads and larger sheets to cut up. Cannot be used wet.)
UART or Wallis Paper (Available in pads and larger sheets to cut up)
High-grit sand paper (this is a non-archival, inexpensive option to use for non-permanent studies)
Gator board (this requires purchasing Liquitex Clear Gesso)
Ampersand Pastel board, available in assorted sizes. I like the 5x7 packs of three

some PASTELS to paint with -
an assortment of hardnesses works best, but get whatever you'd like to start:
Hard:  Nupastels, Mungyo Gallery, Cretacolor, etc.
Medium: Winsor-Newton, Rembrandt, etc. 
Soft: Sennelier, Schmincke, Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend, Unison, etc. 

Generic pastels are good to start with, but they don't offer great color strength, intensity, or permanence.
When buying sets as a beginner, it's best to get half (demi) stick sets which offer double the amount of colors for half the price because the sticks are smaller. 

My personal choice for a good set of pastels:
Sennelier half stick sets (sets of 80 Plein Air half-sticks and 120 Paris half-sticks are available)

My personal choice for paper:
Gator board with Liquitex Clear Gesso (gator board can be purchased from good frame shops)
this also requires Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 70% strength and a 1/2" inexpensive flat brush
-or- Sennelier Pastel Card (aka La Carte Pastel)  pad

REFERENCE to work from or a still life object

Additional items:
wax paper or a roll of glassine
clean pizza box for storage
a towel you don't mind ruining which you'll use to protect your surface and clean your pastels
an easel (tabletop or standing)
masking tape (like blue painters' tape)
artist's tape (more adhesive, usually white)
blending stumps (also called tortillons or torchons)
rubber gloves (optional but I swear by them. Pastels are dirty!)
workable fixative (optional)
safe release tape (for masking references - I like 3M #2070 Safe-Release Painters' Masking Tape)

Sources for pastels on line:
Dakota Art Pastels
Dick Blick 
Utrecht Art
Jerry's Art A Rama
Cheap Joes
Art Supply Warehouse