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Experiments with NeoArt Watersoluble Wax Pastels from Caran d’Ache

January 9, 2013

121106_LifeDrawingNeoArtLeft: Life drawing with Caran d'Ache NeoArt watersoluble wax pastels used dry and wet on Magnani Annigoni Designo, 9 x 12 inches. The number 15 at the top of the page refers to the 15th sheet used in this drawing session.

Last fall (November 2012) I had a trip coming up (more about that on another day) and I decided that I wanted to take NeoArt watersoluble wax pastels with me. I wanted color that was in stick form that I could sketch with but still wet if I desired. And I wanted to work on toned paper.

I had a couple of sheets from a 9 x 12 inch pad of Magnani Annigonie Designo which had been on sale. (I prefer to buy sheets of this paper when using it for binding books, because the surface hasn't been compacted by the padding process, but I have trouble walking by really good paper deals.)

I took some paper, the NeoArts, a little tub for water, and a number 10 synthetic round when I went to the next figure drawing session. After all the short poses, it's time to set up and do two 20-minute poses (which you can also elect to do as one 40-minute pose because the model returns to the same pose after a break). I thought that was a good time to break out the testing materials. I did the 20-minute pose you see today using a blue and a red stick.

I sketched first mostly with blue and then added red in various places. Wet some areas, added some more color, pushed the dry areas around with my fingers to see if it would blend nicely for me. (I like to blend StabiloTones and NeoColor II (from Caran d'Ache) with my fingers when I'm working on the top, dry layers.)

Twenty minutes is a long time, but I had not counted on the extra drying time between layers, needed to get anything close to a finished piece. I realized that halfway through this sketch and spent my final 10 minutes of the 20-minute period messing with the shoulders and the breast area, seeing how the blending would work with this medium on this paper. And I also blended in the hair area for the same reason, paying attention to things like water drying time with this paper.

I spent the second 20-minute portion of this pose doing a pencil study from a slightly different angle.

But the 20 minutes I spent on this experiment experiment gave me the information I was looking for—I didn't want to take the Magnani Annigoni Designo paper because I could rub so furiously with my finger that I could rough up the paper (if it was still wet at all). 

I wasn't totally sold on taking the NeoArt sticks either. (They are blunt and to get a thin line you have to twist them and finesse an edge.) I decided that I would take both a box of the NeoArt sticks (15) and a small handful of the NeoColor IIs which I knew I could blend a little more. I can blend most easily with the Stabilotones, but they are a discontinued product and I didn't want to lose them in my travels—I wanted to save them for savoring at home.

I also decided to take a couple Stabilo All pencils—a white, an orange, a graphite, a red, and a black. These would satisfy my desire for thinner sketching lines but would also be watersoluble if I went in with the water—they would work well with my plans.

Normally when I travel I don't take a lot of supplies, but for this upcoming trip I was going by car (and taking my bike, so weight and packing wasn't an issue). And I wanted to ensure that I had old reliable media as well as test media so that I could keep working, regardless of the results. (And regardless of the taunting of my friend Bill who said, "I thought you always told people to pack light.")

I was going to have three days with two dogs…

  1. Reply

    Really like the sense of edge and line in this work. Is the primary difference between the NEOART and the NEOCOLOR II’s the shape and pigment load? I was considering getting some of the NEOARTs in colors I know I use a lot, to cover more ground on the paper…

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