The other day, I realized that a crayon—in this case the Neocolor pastels—is an oil pastel. It says it right on the wrapper, but I never connected the dots. It’s pigment with a waxy/oily binder not encased in wood. If that was true, I also realized I have many oil pastels/crayons, Sennelier being the softest and Prismacolor Art Stix being the hardest. I could even take this a step further and say that colored pencils are probably oil/wax pastels encased in wood, but I’m not up on my art chemistry enough to say that. (Although I think I’m right.)
I used Stonehenge paper and blended all four various ways. The softest ones are truly stunning blended out with walnut oil. I love oil pastels because they’re beautiful and very satisfying to use on paper, film, pretty much anything. I’m frustrated with the softest ones, though, because I’m never quite certain how to finish or store them. They stay tacky, while the “crayon” Neocolor pastels are easier to store. I treat them like watercolors and store them in a portfolio, only I put a sheet of paper or glassine over the top.
I then tested both Neocolors. Neocolor I are water resistant and II are water soluble. The act similarly dry, but II are softer. I assume there’s gum arabic in them. They blend nicely with the Caran d’Ache or Derwent blenders. I absolutely love these crayons.
While I was in the testing mood, I pitted the less expensive, more available Grafix Duralar drafting film (left) against the Grafix drafting film (right), both the same thickness, double-sided, and matte.
Duralar doesn’t take nearly as many layers as Grafix, about seven compared to ten. The color is deeper and richer on Grafix, which is the overall winner. However, I’m partial to both. Duralar lets the colors shine, and Grafix needs more thought and care to keep colors from muddying. I also realized only certain markers and inks work. Some smeared even hours later, so test first before embarking on a big project.