Recently I came across the work of Caren Canier. Much of her work appeals to me but the drawings done with water soluble oil pastels are the most interesting. (I also read an interview about her in which she talked about the specific product that she used, Cretacolor water soluble oil pastels.) I loved the textural layering that she achieved. So, I ordered some products to try.
I tried three products: Cretacolor water soluble oil pastels, Neocolor 1 water resistant oil pastels by Caran d'Ache, and Blick half stick pastels (soft). I wanted to see what would layer with what and if I could produce some interesting results. I have included my results as a PDF that can be downloaded here on the Resources page of my website. The link is all the way at the bottom of the page.
I don't consider myself to be a process or materials sort of artist. How I get to where I want to get to isn't the primary driving force I guess when I paint. I would be lying though if I said that my own process isn't important to me. It's structured and reliable; I feel reasonably competent using my selected materials and I am happy with the results most of the time. I try to use materials that will help me get a look that I desire and at the same time, are pleasant for me to work with. And I try to test out as many different materials as I can afford and can tolerate. Open mindedness is important to me. Here are some personal observations from my recent tests:
* The testing reaffirmed some things that I know about myself, artistically. I don't like making mush. Working with mud both visually and in a textural way makes me crazy. But, artists whose work is process/materials driven are attractive to me particularly if the work looks intentional and clean. Many of them though seem to come up with things that look muddy or messy to me. I just don't have a tolerance for it. And I have a hard time understanding all of this but it has to do somehow with brushstrokes and how they feel to me in a visual sense and how that feeling translates into a sort of visceral response.
*I have not figured out yet how to combine things. Using the Neocolors would provide some measure of a controlled line and a way to make specific marks. I am afraid of screwing up the piece and of not being able to fix it. I use acrylics because things can be fixed. I work as carefully as possible and try to remain open to accidents and their opportunities. Still, there is some nervousness. I'd like to combine colored paper that uses textural lines with solid colored shapes. I just don't know yet.
* Ultimately, I think that honoring the natural properties of your materials is somehow important. There is a push and pull to using them though. Maybe they want to be used more expansively; crayons can be melted or softened using water or solvents. Watercolors can be used more thickly and acrylics can be thinned down and layered in washes. Materials can be used together to some degree. They have to cooperate though. As I was rubbing and rubbing the Cretacolor crayons onto the paper to get layered effects I felt somehow as if I was missing the point. The crayons are meant to be used with water. Their color is certainly more brilliant when wet. And I would add that things can be used for a purpose for which they weren't intended. I have used a credit card edge to scrape lines into layers of paint. Marks can be made with all sorts of tools.
As a final point, the above drawing is done with the Neocolor 1's. I like that you can gesso right over them and keep applying different layers that way. The layers stay much more distinct. You do eventually come up with optical color blending-yellow and blue to get a sort of green. And lastly, these can be thinned and blended with solvents. Their color would certainly be more brilliant. My drawing is done over gray colored pencils and so the results are a little more dull I guess because of that and because of not using any solvents. I do love the texture!
OK, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. Thanks for reading and commenting. download the PDF too and see if that helps.