Today’s post will be shorter, and a little break from watercolors, to review Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble wax oil pastel. I will also do a little comparison with the Crayola Portfolio Series water-soluble oil pastels.
“Neocolor II water-soluble wax oil pastels highlight the enormous innovative capabilities of the Maison Caran d’Ache. Created in 1972 as the continuation of the famous Neocolor I range, they offer boundless creative possibilities for artists and beginners alike.
Basing their work on the existing excellent qualities – exceptional coverage, smoothness and extreme lightfastness –, the craftsmen of the Manufacture added water solubility, a property greatly appreciated by connoisseurs of the Maison from all manner of artistic fields and from school age upwards.”
These might look like crayons, but they are much more versatile and vibrant. The Caran d’Ache website says that the Neocolor II come in a range of 84 colors and state “excellent light resistance.” They really come in 126 colors, including 10 metallic colors and other subtle color variations. Here is their color chart. Package sizes are: 10, 15, 30, 40, 84, 126 and you can see them all listed out here. It also looks like they release limited edition sets- Spring and Autumn. All sets come in a nice metal tin with a hinged lid, and are also sold open stock (individually) at Dick Blick. They range from $20 for the set of 10, all the way up to $383 + (holy cow!) for the set of 126 on Amazon. Definitely not priced like crayons. Many mixed media artists use them. These are not to be confused with the Neocolor I, which are not water-soluble (click through to the 3rd frame in the link to watch the video on those).
Guest Doodlewasher Louise Primeau occasionally incorporates Neocolor II in with her watercolor sketches.
Below, I did a couple of whimsical quickies to give you an example of what they look like, nothing too original. They were done in a Strathmore Visual Journal. I prefer other brands of paper for watercolor painting, so I use it for swatches and stuff like this. The pastel crayon is firm, and not as soft as a water-soluble oil pastel like Crayola Portfolio– it’s also much nicer than the Crayola. The pigment can be lifted directly off of the pastel crayon with a wet brush and painted with. That’s how I got the splatter. I scribbled round and round to make the circle shapes. Notice that you can’t see any of my scribble lines, they completely blended away when I applied water with a brush. They are very bendable and vibrant.
A big difference can be seen between the two, as well as a big price difference. A set of 12 Crayola is about $6, a set of 10 Neocolor II will run about $20. The photo below shows how the Crayola didn’t blend as nicely. The Crayola’s are crumbly and, well, oily. The Neocolor II aren’t at all crumbly and dry very nicely. Nothing came up when I ran my hand over the Neocolor II after it dried. A slight amount did rub off on the page facing it when the journal was closed. Really there is no comparison between the two, the Neocolor II are high quality, and a much nicer medium. That being said, I still have fun with the Crayola pastels in my art journal. I usually spray a little fixative on the pages I use Crayola on after I let it dry out for a day or two. In a pinch, I hear that hairspray also works well. Next time I buy a fixative, I would like to try this SpectraFix because it is without a bunch of fumes and odor free. I find that the Krylon Fixatif I’ve been using to be pretty offensive. I found this article on Jackson’s Art blog comparing fixatives. It might not matter so much for the purposes I’m talking about here, but if you are using other types of pastels, like chalk, oil, or charcoal, the use or non-use of fixative does matter. I will probably write more about that at some point in another post.
Bare with me here- I wanted to give a nice example, with a video of some of the process. As things sometimes go, they went awry. They are REALLY water-soluble. This is a simple rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night . After I put down the color I used a small spray bottle. At first it was looking great and I was saying wow! Then I used too much water and was saying something else…
I hesitated to post these. But, you are here reading this for a review and examples, so it’s only fair that I show them. If I would have used less water, or a brush, things would have turned out differently.
After it dried, I reworked the same painting with more coloring and a medium Pentel Aquash water brush. What I had down prior worked like an under painting.
Here is a a short 2:06 minute video of an artist creating with Neocolor II.
I also like this 1:23 minute Blick video.
If you like watching more of a completed process here is a 14:45 minute speed video by JenW Fine Arts.
I am fortunate to be able to do these reviews and share what I learn. I do them, in part, because I believe that living a creative life is enriching and important, beyond what we may initially realize. I hope that these posts inspire and help others to be creative in their lives. If you are on the fence about trying something creative- try it!! You have the inkling or idea for a reason, let the expression flow through you. I suspect most people reading this are already letting it fly- so high five! This article Why Art Matters, Even in Poverty touched me, so I’m sharing it.
Gogh and create something today 😉
This is an ongoing series of supply reviews and your comments are appreciated. I have no affiliation with any of the companies or links that have been provided, nor were any products received in an exchange for a review.