Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils are, says Mary Herbert, ‘outstanding in their scope’ and allow for limitless creativity, whatever your style or subject.
About Museum Aquarelle
- Finest quality pigments
- Outstanding range of colours
- Fully water-soluble
- Strong leads
- Easily sharpened
A visit to the National Gallery’s Making Colour exhibition brought it home to me how important it is to use stable pigments.
These days we know much more about the archival qualities of pigments, but that doesn’t mean that artists’ materials are always made from the best, often for economic reasons. Caran d’Ache have boldly addressed this with the Museum pencils, refusing to compromise and using only the most permanent pigments available.
For me, Caran d’Ache has always meant colour. And what colour! With typical Swiss fastidiousness, their Geneva laboratory is dedicated to developing the purest and best pigments and binders possible and their products are thoroughly tested during their development.
Where to buy
Museum Aquarelle pencils can be purchased from Jackson's Art Supplies by clicking here and from art shops and other online retailers.
The pencils are available singly and in five assortments:
- A basic set of 12
- Two sets of 20, being Landscape and Marine
- A wooden box of 76 colours
If I didn’t already own the full set, that box would certainly be at the top of my Christmas list!
I found the range of colours in the full set outstanding in their scope.
There are clean, jewel-like primary and secondary colours for bright work with cool and warm options as well as shades and tints.
The selection of greens, which can so often prove disappointing in ready-mixed colours, are genuinely useful.
There are superb flesh tints for portraits, and as someone who paints more pictures of animals than anything else I was pleased to discover there is an excellent choice of earthy colours and two different blacks: a standard shading black and a dense ivory black.
Working with Museum Aquarelle
Racing Colours, Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils, (15x30.5cm)
Racing Colours, above, is a patchwork of small, bright washes in which I have allowed colours to merge.
- I worked a wet brush over thin applications of Museum Aquarelle pencil, occasionally leaving dry spaces to add a sense of movement.
- I allowed each area to dry before working on adjacent patches so that the edges stayed crisp.
- Once the painting was dry I used the Payne’s grey pencil to draw the bridles of the two horses on the right-hand side.
Mark making with Museum Aquarelle
Techniques for using Museum Aquarelle
Gallopers, Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Pencils, (20.5x30.5cm)
I had a lot of fun exploring layers and tonal density when painting Gallopers, above, by repeatedly washing out and drawing in lots of colour and using a mixture of fine and loose work.
Although quite soft to work with, the pencil leads are strong, making sharpening to a fine point or flat chisel edge easy.
The consistency is very smooth and the pencils are sensitive to pressure, particularly on HP paper, where it is possible to achieve very fine detail as well as subtle graduations when used dry.
As the pigment is concentrated and releases so readily with water, working a wet brush over the lightest of marks is enough to provide a transparent wash.
You can also use it as a conventional watercolour pan by scribbling onto scrap paper or rough plastic and lifting with a wet brush to apply directly to paper.
Or alternatively shave some colour off the pencil into a small well of water and dip in the brush. This is a good way to mix new colours for flat application, should you need them.
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