An extra treat for me at this year’s Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam was that my workshops were sponsored by Caran d’Ache. This meant that all the people who signed up for my workshop received a special additional goodies bag from Caran d’Ache. Oh ah! How exciting! It was a very generous bag – but more about that later!
Caran D’Ache is a Swiss company who make a range of top quality products – made in Switzerland. I love the name and it has a very cool origin. From their website: Caran d’Ache comes from the word “karandash” that is the Russian term for “pencil” and in turn comes from the Turkish root “kara tash” which refers to black stone – the origins of graphite.
Here I am with Adrian Weber from Caran D’Ache holding the goodies bag. Adrian does amazing work with the Caran D’Ache products and I really wish that I’d had time to hang out and find out more about how he uses them. (Note: It was just so hard for me to have any quality time upstairs with the sponsors this year. It was like an oven up there as this photo reminds me!)
Those of you who have been following me for a while will know that, although my main medium is watercolour, my sketching kit has always included a selection of watercolour pencils. But in the last year or so I haven’t been using them as much. So when this offer of sponsorship came up I was very excited as, not only have I been wanting to try the new Museum range of Aquarelle pencils, but I’ve also been wanting to get back to using watercolour pencils again.
So far I’ve been super impressed by the Museum pencils – but I might have to leave a full review for another article.
Once the sponsorship arrangement was locked in, I bought a few pencils while I was in Paris to have a little play and then on arrival in Amsterdam there was a Caran d’Ache package waiting for me. I didn’t have a lot of time to get to know these products before my workshops!
The first thing I did when I received my samples was to do a colour chart and then immediately work out which colours in the 12 set would be the most useful for Amsterdam. I didn’t have time to test all the colours therefore I wanted to reduce the selection! So this page shows that process. I was most interested in working out how to mix the dark brown of the Amsterdam buildings and green for the trees.
In my initial quick tests I was impressed by how smooth these pencils are. They are a joy to use to draw with are richly pigmented.
And then it was time for the symposium….
Stillman and Birn also kindly donated some sample packs for us to use during the workshop – thanks!
I gave a brief explanation of ways to use watercolour pencils. This is my summary page of different techniques with a very Dutch subject matter!
Note: My workshop was called Dynamic Composition and I’ll share more about it in a separate article – coming soon.
So what was inside the goodie bag?
The big deal was a 12 set of the Museum Aquarelle Pencils! But there was also a tin of pencils including red, green and blue tinted graphite pencils. I’m not a big graphite user but these pencils look amazing. Here is a link to a YouTube video demonstration using them.
The bag also contained a set of waterbrushes with a pump refill (you can see them in the above video), a small spray bottle (useful for activating water-soluble pencils but also for cooling participants down in the heatwave!) and a Palette Aquarelle. As you can see I haven’t had a chance to open my palette but it’s designed for using aquarelle pencils/crayon more like paint. It looks like a really useful tool and here is a YouTube review of it.
So this was what was in the Caran d’Ache goodies bag for my workshops. It was very generous, wasn’t it?
With all the craziness of the symposium days (including beforehand and afterwards) I didn’t get much opportunity for solo sketching. I really need some focused time in order to fully explore the best way to use new products. So I still have a lot of exploring which I want to do with these products over the next few months. But here are a few sketches that I did manage to do with the Museum pencils while I was in Amsterdam.
And a few I did in Paris earlier during my trip using a few colours which I purchased while I was there.
I’ve gotten so used to sketching with ink lately that it has been a really refreshing challenge to use pencils again!
I can’t wait to test them further and come up with a personalised set of colours that work for me. I think I will need some more time poring over the colour chart to help me decide what colours I need to test next – it’s looking like more earth colours!
A huge thankyou to Caran d’Ache for your incredibly generous sponsorship. It was really special to be able to receive some of your gorgeous products to use and it was a huge surprise treat for my workshop participants – thanks again!
I hope that everyone who did my workshops will have fun using these lovely products and will let me know what you think of them!
And if you are interested in getting lots of yummy art supply images in your Instagram feed… here is the Caran d’Ache account to follow.
Note: Caran d’Ache sent me the art supplies shown above to test prior to my workshops but I have not received any payment from them. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and as you all know, I love to test out different brands and work out which suit me best. I’m still in this process of experimentation and will share more in a few months time.
So have you tried the museum pencils? Or any of the other Caran d’Ache products?