Detail from my first (for this year) use of oil pastel, not like coloured pencil at all, but really pops off the black page.
Available on Etsy in my Life Drawing Portfolio
Direct from my Journal: Life Drawing today, we had Jane, squat, round, voluptuous, athletic, great to draw, I may have one pastel on black, Jane (model) declared it awesome--thanks Jane!... but the one hour pose went South for me. Jane likes Bass fishing, catch and release. She names all the fish she catches. I know this because D. asked her. I have no idea how he knew to ask her. He fishes bass too, barbless hooks, catch and release. He calls them friends, the fish, I'm not sure they concur in spite of gentle handling. We all try to find a way to make connections.Last week I tried coloured pencil on black paper. I liked it, but found the colour intensity disappointing at a distance. I’m using Canson Mi-Tientes Pastel Paper. So I pulled out my soft pastels to give them a whirl. They gave me absolutely stunningly vibrant colours, but the soft (chalk) pastels just can’t stand up to the kind of abuse I dish out even after a hefty spritz of fixative.
The lady I sat beside loves soft black conte for the depths of its blacks but spends much time smudging them to greys. I spent 15 of 60 minutes roughing in pencil only to erase to a faint outline so that I could get it right in coloured pencil. I did not.
So I dug out my motley collection of oil pastels. I found some colours and brands to be muddy and dull over black, and so sorted them out by their vibrancy (or lack thereof) on black and brought the best of them to my life drawing session.
My four Caran d'Ache Neopastels gave consistently excellent coverage over black including the pale yellow you see, Weber was the worst (most of a full set got left behind), Mungyo not great, and while I’ve read good things about Holbien, bright yellow, and orange both failed and stayed at home. However, mungyo provided the vibrant orange you see. If I continue with pastel, I will grow my neopastel collection.
It wasn’t easy getting detail into a 9x12 work of art with fat bodied pastels, so that was a challenge, another challenge, although also a pleasant surprise, was how both colour and line changed as the pastels built up over black. Better yet, when two days later I went back the work to assess and finish, it seemed like the pastel had ‘set’ allowing me add pure colour on top. That is something to remember.
Unlike soft pastels, these stick tight unless you do something really stupid. No fixer necessary.