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Wax Pencils - Different Papers

This is an interesting exercise which shows how much the paper
( or alternative surface ) affects the end result
I have selected a small pottery figure of a Welsh Slate Miner as my subject.
The figure is a mere 3.5 ins tall ( 9 cms) and was a souvenir
from a trip to the old slate mines in Snowdonia ( North Wales)
several years ago.
I have selected a range of colours from the Polychromos box and added an
extra Caran d’Ache Black and White . The actual colours are as follows:
Polychromos Sanguine 188
Polychromos Light Yellow Ochre 183
Polychromos Warm Grey 2 271
Polychromos Cold Grey 6 235
CDA Pablo Black 009
CDA Pablo White 001
The procedure adopted was to transfer the outline of the image to the paper by a trace and then apply white pencil to those areas where the white or light shades were to appear. This gave a white foundation so that the later colours applied came out paler than otherwise. Where dark tones of colour were required, the greys were added after the main colour was laid down. In one or two cases solvents or burnishing were used, and in these I show the ‘before and after ‘ images.
This was my first example. I spent nearly 3 hours on this. I thought the paper was an Italian print making paper called Canaletto Liscio, but later checks showed that it was much smoother and in fact was a real problem to use with CP. The final attempts to get the colour to produce a smooth effect just led to the top coats slipping around. I now believe the surface was a simple white card of about 250 gsm. I gave up the work in the end and moved on the examples of work on papers I could be sure of. It proved that if you use the right paper, the finishing result will be better and also take less time and trouble
For my second test, I selected some UART 800 grit paper. The number relates to the grit surface - the higher the number the finer the grit. The figure here took an hour to complete. The grit takes a good layer of pencil down, but it is not as easy to get fine detail. The image is only 3 inches high. I dare say I could have worked longer and put down more colour to give better shaping to the arm and base.
A much more satisfactory result for test 3. I decided to try an underpainting using watercolour pencils and this was tested on Fabriano Classico 5 watercolour paper ( 300gsm). In the first image you can see the mid way point with the original dry pencil to the right and brushed in colour to the left. The traditional Wax type pencils were then applied to give the final result. This took a fraction over the hour and I was much happier with the result
‘Somerset’ Black Velvet paper was the next test. This is much smoother than the grit papers and is very good for pastel as well. Well under the hour for this one, but you have to be particularly careful not to rub the light colours on to the black background with the heel of your hand as you work. Very effective and quick, but probably not a perfect example. I like working on black papers and the Somerset Velvet is a very good one. As well as being lightfast ( non fading ) it has a good surface.
This little figure on the left is on Hermes 400 grit paper. As you see the finish is much rougher on the rougher grit paper. Very quick to do ( about 30 minutes ) but not a lot of opportunity to improve on detail. Note how bright the white is. This is down to the amount of pigment the grit holds
Strathmore smooth. This was a 45 minute exercise. Nice paper and a satisfactory result
This one on the left is on Stonehenge light grey paper. A very good paper for CP . Not too happy with my blending of the final layers, but I wanted to produce a comparable result for the time - within an hour. This took an hour.
For this final test, I decided to try an experiment, as I was having some trouble with final layers in earlier examples, so on a sheet of Canson 300gsm watercolour paper, I worked a similar CP base as in the other examples, but this time took a photo (1 on the left ) of the basic colour as applied. You will see it has many similarities to the other examples above in the layers are not as even as I would like. I took a hand held craft heat gun and warmed up the surface on the pad until the wax pigment was soft. I then applied a ‘bone’ tool to burnish and smooth the warm wax which resulted in a very much superior image. Any variations in the images above which possibly make it look like a different image are down to the photography ! I hadn’t tried heating the wax image before, and it has much the same result as water on aquarelles in making the colours more intense. I think that you do need to have the image on a pad or a heat retaining surface to keep the warmth in the area you are targeting. Worthy of more investigation, perhaps !
Photo reference of original
pottery figure
To sum up, all the images reflected the time taken but show the different results that can be achieved with the same pencils on different surfaces. If I were to do this test again today ( it was done several years ago ), I would also do an example on Pastelmat board, which is a specialist surface designed for pastel use, but which is smooth and holds a lot of pigment.
Page last revised …. September 2017