Tag Archives: art materials

The Exceptional Box

Dancing pencils on the wall of a Caran d’Ache boutique in Geneva.

Exactly three weeks ago today Matthew and I were in Geneva, Switzerland.   We had a special reason for being there; we were to be given a tour of the Caran d’Ache factory!  [Caran d’Ache, in the opinion of this artist – and many other artists – are manufacturers of the best artist-quality light-fast coloured pencils in the world.]  Before the appointed day and time, we had an opportunity to explore Geneva and visit two Caran d’Ache boutiques in the city centre.

First we went to House of Colors Fine on Place du Bourg-de-Four opposite the Palais du Justice.

“House of Colors Fine”, the Caran d’Ache boutique on Place du Bourg-de-Four.

I sought permission to photograph inside the shop…

…and then I bought some supplies.  I was almost light-headed from the treasures within.  What was to be done next?  TO THE SECOND BOUTIQUE….

Walking from one boutique to the other, we never forgot that we were in Switzerland.

Caran d’Ache chez Brachard on rue de la Corraterie 10 was our next stop.  Once again I was given permission to take photographs.

I was stopped in my tracks by an an enormous box of coloured pencils on display.  I had seen this box on the internet and hoped that I might see it in real life in Switzerland – and there it was.  Oh MY!

I bought some more art materials and then we walked in a happy daze beside Lake Geneva while I daydreamed about how the factory tour would be…and I thought about that exceptional box.

The following morning we were greeted at the Caran d’Ache factory in Thônex by Eric Vitus, Fine Arts Manager.  We were introduced to Carole Hubscher, President, and then Eric took us on a comprehensive tour, showing us materials, machines and methods which are used to make pens, pencils, oil pastels, and paints.  It was such a delight to discuss my favourite art materials with their creators and developers that I have no adequate words to convey the absolute joy of our visit.  Thank you, Eric!

We mentioned to our guides, Eric Vitus and Gaby Perrissol, that we had seen a rather amazing box of pencils the previous day, and was this box perhaps available to purchase?  There was one on view in the board room so we had a thorough inspection of it.  Matthew said, “We’d like to buy one if it is available”.  To cut a long story short, arrangements were made.  Huge thanks to Gaby and to Viviane Du at Caran d’Ache for organizing passage of The Exceptional Box across the world.  We have number 62 out of a limited edition of 100.

The box is not only a piece of perfection on its own, but it also reminds us of that day, the factory tour, the alps of Europe, the people we met, and the whole magnificent trip.

This afternoon at the front door.

The Exceptional Box is unpacked on the kitchen bench.

To fully appreciate this box of pencils which is a true work of art, I invite you to watch the two minute video Matthew made.

The Certificate of Authenticity says, “To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Supracolor Soft, Caran d’Ache has concentrated its colour expertise to gather a selection of its legendary products in a luxurious wooden box.  This world most important treasure chest of Swiss made artists’ pencils contains 422 colour pencils, including 30 exclusive Supracolor Soft tones.  The exceptional Limited Edition is a testimony to the history of Caran d’Ache and a tribute to the world of colour.”

Related articles:  Art Materials  

Caran d’Ache open stock available in Australia

 

 

Brush and Pencil

I am regularly asked about applying oil pastels with a brush.  Here is what I do…

brushes and oil pastel in front of my current work-in-progress.

To apply oil pastel undercoat (as you see in this image) I use a size 1 bristle brush.  The brush on the left started off looking like the brush next to it.  Its bristles have been eroded by pushing oil pastel pigment onto the Arches Aquarelle paper.  However a worn-down brush works just fine for my purpose so I will keep using it until I decide to throw it away.  Bristle brushes are inexpensive and easily replaceable.  I go through a brush every two or three drawings.

If I only need a dab of colour I take it directly off the pastel with my brush.  I don’t even need to take the pastel out of its box to do this.

Taking the colour directly off the pastel while it stays in its box.

If I know I am going to need a lot of one colour or I want to mix colours, I slice bits of pastel off with a palette knife and mix the colours on a palette.  (Because the pigment is greasy/sticky pastel I find a ceramic surface makes the best palette ie. a small plate.)   Using mixed pastels on a palette is almost exactly like using oil paint.  Mixed oil pastel pigment on a palette doesn’t dry out so it can be used next day/next week…no problem.

Applying pastel to paper with a brush is a lot like painting with oils.  I plot the areas of colour onto the paper in a general way.  All the fine nuances of colour and detail will be put on with coloured pencils when the pastel undercoat is finished.

If I am making a major change of colour (ie. from purple to pale yellow) then I clean the brush thoroughly with solvent, though wiping the brush with tissue paper between colour changes is usually enough.  With most colour changes I tend to dry-wipe the brush.

If you look back at the top image you will see the very wide bristle brush.  I use this to sweep over pencil AND pastel to blend and soften.  A good example is the image below…

“Time and Space”

In the drawing “Time and Space” pencil has been worked into the pastel.  I have repeatedly brushed across the drawing with the large bristle brush pushing the pencils and pastels together – merging and softening.  Quite often after doing this I will apply more pencil and then repeat the brushing – until I have the effect I want.  WARNING:  If I brush over the top of the red rose with my wide brush I might get red pigment into the surrounds so I am careful not to do this.

In “Time and Space” I wanted a subtle look so I used Caran d’Ache Neopastels for the background undercoat.   They are drier and more gentle than Sennelier pastels.  Only for the bold red rose I used Sennelier.

“Day Trip to Giverny” – I also made the choice of using Neopastels for the entire background undercoat except for the foliage closest to the viewer which I undercoated with Sennelier.  NB:  I don’t slice off bits of Neopastel with a palette knife the way I do with Sennelier.  Neopastel, being harder and drier, doesn’t lend itself to being mixed on a palette the way the more buttery soft Sennelier does.

“Day Trip to Giverny”

I find using oil pastels with coloured pencils much more satisfying than using pencils by themselves.  I feel this combination is a bridge back towards painting – in fact I have given it the name “dry painting“.

I am often asked if I use fixatives or varnishes with this combination.  No, nothing.

“Enchanted April”
November 2017
Sennelier pastels and coloured pencils.

The marriage of oil pastels with coloured pencils gives a work substance and momentum.

The drawing I am working on currently.  This is how it looked last week.

You may see the finished drawing on the post Walking with Claude

PS:  Don’t worry about getting exact undercoat colours because the coloured pencils over the top will modify the colours to perfection.

A cautionary tale:  some artists who use coloured pencils like to brush off pencil dust with a big brush (rather like a brush-and-pan kind of brush).  Don’t indiscriminately do this when using oil pastels.  Oil pastels are oily and sticky.  A piece of pastel dust in the wrong area is likely to smear if you sweep it into your page – and it will not be removable.  Instead, blow it off your paper or if your breath isn’t strong enough, simply lift it off gently with the point of a brush, pencil or putty eraser.  Simple.

See also ART MATERIALS page

Another relevant page is MIXED MEDIA IMPRESSIONISM

Night Moves shows another example of this technique, before and after coloured pencil was added to the oil pastels.

 

Caran d’Ache Open Stock in Australia

imageI have just found a shop in Sydney which sells open stock of all Caran d’Ache coloured pencils including the gorgeous Luminance.  The staff told me that they are Australia’s biggest stockists of Caran d’Ache art materials and that they post all over Australia.

Every type of boxed set is in the shop however I am more excited to share news of open stock with my Australian coloured pencil friends.

The name is Kadmium Art + Design supplies.  The address is 80b Bay Street, BROADWAY NSW  2007.  Phone 02 9212 2669.  Website is Kadmium.com.au

As I had limited time (due to my imminent return flight to Perth) I was not able to explore the whole shop. All I could do during my quick visit was to check out the Caran d’Ache range, buy some blenders and chat to the staff.  It was the icing on the cake of my Sydney trip to find this shop…quite by chance.

Other Caran d’Ache pencil ranges included Pablos, Museum Aquarelle and Supracolor. Neocolor crayons and Neopastels were available in boxes and singles.  Plus there were all manner of paints, pens and papers.  (They also have open stock of Sennelier oil pastels.)

When I get home I will add all this information to my Art Materials page.  I just have to fly across the continent first.

Several hours later: home again.

"Alone in the Upper Marais" is a drawing with Luminance coloured pencils.

“Alone in the Upper Marais”
is a drawing using Luminance coloured pencils.

PS:  Since first finding Kadmium Art + Design Supplies, I have returned several times, made many purchases plus talked to the owners who are dedicated to the artists they supply to.   I highly recommend this art supply store.  It is a treasure trove.

"Nearly Dusk" an impression of rue Quincampoix drawn with Luminance. December 2016

“Nearly Dusk”
an impression of rue Quincampoix drawn with Luminance.
December 2016