Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Tiptoeing Toward Pastels


2/4/23 Neopastels in Hahnemuhle sketchbook
My portraiture study has piqued my curiosity about opaque media. Most of the artists I follow for portraiture work in oils or gouache, and I can see the advantages of opaque paints. Among dry media, pastels are probably the most opaque, and I’ve dabbled a bit with pastel pencils. I’m trying to avoid traditional soft pastels (the kind that produce the most dust and mess), but I’m tiptoeing in that direction.

One of the things I grabbed quickly from my studio before sequestering was a small set of Caran d’Ache Neopastels. They are categorized as oil pastels, which have a soft, lipsticky consistency that produces no dust. They smudge a lot, though, so they are still messy, but at least the mess isn’t airborne. In this first try (at left), I was just getting a feel for them. The 100 percent cotton Hahnemühle sketchbook has a relatively strong tooth that grabs oil pastels and imparts an interesting texture. Unlike traditional pastels, though, oil pastels apparently work well on smooth papers as well as toothy. I grabbed a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, too, so I’ll be experimenting soon.

2/4/23 ArtGraf water-soluble graphite in Hahnemuhle sketchbook

The other three portraits here are water-soluble materials I’m more familiar with: a Viarco ArtGraf graphite pencil, Caran d’Ache Neocolor II crayons, and a Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle colored pencil.

This bunch turned out to be a fun mix of realism and -- not. (Im never sure what to call works that are not quite abstract or impressionistic but also not realistically detailed. Whatever.)

(With nothing much in the TV room to draw, I’m certainly happy and grateful to have Earthsworld’s photography to use as convenient portrait references.)

2/4/23 Neocolor II in Hahnemuhle sketchbook

2/4/23 Museum Aquarelle in Hahnemuhle sketchbook


  1. Glad you are feeling well enough to draw! I love your portraits and your willingness to show your experiments.

  2. I love that you keep experimenting with different media. Good for you! Hope you are feeling a bit better.

  3. Thank you, Cathy and Joan! I'm already feeling much better!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...