View Full Version : OP Practice II

Kathryn Wilson
11-21-2003, 04:06 PM
I dug out all my OP sets today to determine in my own mind what brand does what on several different papers.

1) I used Sennelier's OP white paper, which is very like a very heavy watercolor paper and textured as such;
2) A black mat board with a slight texture;
3) Ampersand Clayboard (white) and very, very smooth.

Sennelier OP paper: (hardest to softest; coverage observation) using the white stick in each set:

2)Grumbacher (these 3 are like using a blending stick)
3)Farber Castell

4) Holbein (transparent coverage; good for layering over a dark
5) Caran D'Ache (good coverage, almost as creamy as Sennelier)
6) Sennelier (opaque coverage over a dark color)

Black mat board - (using a yellow stick)(poorest coverage to best)(to see how a light color would cover on a dark paper)

1) Sanford
2) Farber Castel
3) Holbein
4) Caran D'Ache
5) Grumbacher
6) Sennelier

White Clayboard - (using a burnt sienna) (best coverage and then thinned with Turpenoid)(using the thinning test will tell you how much you can extend the color or thin down to layer with only a transparant color)

1) Grumbacher - good coverage, stayed dark even tho' thinned
2) Sennelier - ditto
3) Caran d'Ache - color started to thin out easily
4) Holbein - good coverage, but thinned to almost nothing
5) Sanford - poor performance on both tests

Hope this helps!! Please ask questions - I may not have articulated very well.

I really liked the Clayboard performance, but it did say it was an absorbant surface, but they also make a gessoboard that is not absorbant clay.

11-21-2003, 07:11 PM
Nice work Kat!
So what brand do you think an inexperienced pastelist like me should put on my Holiday "Wish List"? Is Holbein's still a good choice IYHO?

Kathryn Wilson
11-21-2003, 08:01 PM
Hi Rosic: It depends on how you think you might like to work - real loose and juicy - Senneliers; tight and detailed - Holbeins.

For an inbetween - the Caran d'Ache are a good choice and I will probably be buying more of these because: 1) less expensive than Holbeins and Senneliers; 2) I think with these you can achieve a little bit of both styles. Cons: I don't think they have the range that the more expensive sticks have, but I will have to check into that.

11-22-2003, 10:19 AM
How interesting Kat! It's interesting how we get different results according to what we want to accomplish. For one, I absolutely hated clayboard as a surface for OP's, too slick, like working on an acrylic base...and you like it. The difference being, I believe, that I like fine control of my OPs and you like loose and expressive. For that same reason the Senneliers don't work well for me, although I love their strong pigmentation...but in order to use those well I had to mostly apply with tools. I think the Senneliers would be nice accent colors over a lower layer of Holbeins, though I haven't gotten to mix them yet. The reason I like the Holbeins is they layer pretty well and I don't have any reason to use turps with them. I agree that Caran d'Ache and Sennelier are mostly opaque coverage when applied straight...the Caran d'Ache has a pretty good selection of colors in the full set IMO.
The Sennelier does have a clear stick for making colors more transparent, which is nice.
My main observation between those three is that Sennelier is the oiliest and slickest to work with, followed closely by the more opaque Caran d'Ache, and the Holbeins are firmer and less oily with more control for fine details and blending. And I really like the tonal range in the individual colors in Holbeins...it's something I wished for with the other two...either a darker or lighter version of a color.
So it really comes down to what an individual artist is looking for...any of these brands can be bought in individual sticks and I'd recommend that as a first step towards deciding what works.
Cool on you for experimenting and sharing!

BTW...Holbein is sold under different names outside of North America I was told...

here (http://www.holbeinhk.com/) is their link for contacting them with any questions...

Kathryn Wilson
11-22-2003, 10:42 AM
Hi Dyin: Just want to clarify with you about the clayboard - the one I used has a clay base, but Ampersand also has a gessoboard which is very smooth and is non-absorbant.

I have been watching the swatches I put on the clayboard over the last day and I find the results very interesting:

As they did describe in the literature that came with the clayboard, it does absorb the color into the first layer. If I apply my finger quite strongly to the swatches, I cannot get any rubbing off at all. They seem to be permanently into the clay itself. BUT, if I apply the turpenoid, it will totally break down all the brands of OP's. When that dried, I cannot smudge that either. This looks like a good way to do an underpainting.

Thanks for commenting Sue - :cat:

11-22-2003, 12:07 PM
The clayboard I used is clay based too...but it's really old, left over from my airbrushing days, and maybe its properties changed some, as I did find it softer and more absorbent back when. I was hoping to lay down some color and scratch back like I did with the acrylic colors, but it was pretty resistant, even though the pigments only penetrated a little way. Then again...airbrush puts down such a fine layer and OPs are pretty thickly pigmented. It's even possible I used a board that I had already used once and 'erased', which would account for it's slick top layer.
I seem to have a reaction to any of the turps and maybe that's why I tend to the Holbeins, since I can layer them and the first layer can be my underpainting. I've found on almost any support that the first layer sticks, so it's a pretty good idea to keep that in mind. On a white support especially, a lot of times I run the white stick over any areas I might want to adjust lighter later on.
I do a lot of adjusting for subtle transitions so a fixed underpainting doesn't work for me.
This all really shows how the individual artist can find different results with the same support and medium, and personal style seems to dictate what will work best. No hard and fast rules for much of it but it's pretty cool to have a place to share all this information with each other and for people just starting out with OPs.

11-22-2003, 12:54 PM
No hard and fast rules for much of it but it's pretty cool to have a place to share all this information with each other and for people just starting out with OPs.

I agree! I'm just starting out with OP's and am reading all this info to decide what brand to buy. Thanks!

11-22-2003, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by Dyin
the Holbeins are firmer and less oily with more control for fine details and blending.

Thanks for all the info Kat and Dyin... the statement above has helped me make my choice because that is what I am looking for. Thanks again!

11-22-2003, 03:59 PM
Yeah, Kat...you did good starting this thread with all your experiments! I just jumped on the bandwagon lol!

Bernie...that's an interesting tinyhead, but I can't see it too well...do you have it posted here on WC so I can see it???

Kathryn Wilson
11-22-2003, 04:07 PM
Thanks Dyin!

I may post some more info on this thread as I take this info and apply it to a painting or two.

I should use the Sennelier OP paper and the clayboard - I've already done one on mat black - See: OP Practice I.

So much to do, so little time.

I should be working on the Weekend Drawing Event - some really nice photos to chose from!!

11-22-2003, 04:20 PM
Originally posted by Dyin
Bernie...that's an interesting tinyhead, but I can't see it too well...do you have it posted here on WC so I can see it???

Dyin... interesting you asked...

Why that's me with the "Real" Santa in 1962.
No Polaroids then... guess I was #102! LOL!:D


Sorry to jump in your thread like this Kat...
Thanks again for all your hard work and help!

11-22-2003, 04:36 PM
Oh, weren't you just a serious little cutie pie!!! And now we know you're just a youngun yet!!! I have a pic somewhere with the real Santa too...just a few years before yours...ok, a decade maybe...but who's counting???:evil: :D Thanks for sharing!

PS...since you were so kind in your description of Santa, I'm SURE you'll find what you want under the tree! :D

Mikki Petersen
11-23-2003, 05:23 AM
Hi Kat. Great study and good info for us all. Were you aware that Ampersand also makes a PastelBord especially for use on pastels. Don't know how well it would work for OPs because it is textured like Art Spectrum paper. I love it for pastels because it is a nice rigid surface. Have to admit though there is some trouble with the pastel dust falling away...

Kathryn Wilson
11-23-2003, 07:39 AM
Hi Impete: Yeah, I do like Ampersand's pastel board, but it does not hold the pastel like the other sanded papers we all use. I find you can only get a few layers on and then the tooth is gone. I do like the fact it is on a board.

I might give the OPs a go on that board also since the pumice/sand is so fine.

11-23-2003, 02:41 PM
I have a question. Right now I am working with Craypas expressionist, which have wrappers on them. I'm thinking about buying Holbeins, which don't have wrappers. I would think that the oil pastel would get on your hands as you use them, and you would have to be constantly wiping your hands so you wouldn't contaminate the next stick you pick up. Is that the case?

11-23-2003, 03:56 PM
Eileen...the answer to your question is YEP!!! lol...but I had the same problem with the wrapped ones...they pick up under layers too. Here's how I deal with it...I have a papertowel on my desk to give a quick swipe on, it keeps the part I'm using clean. About twice during a painting (remember...I'm slow, so every couple weeks) I take a paper towel and wipe down the outside of each one. The Holbeins have had this done about 8 times so far and haven't noticed them any smaller...it just seems to rub off the excess. I also keep a box of baby wipes with aloe vera, unscented on my desk. It INSTANTLY cleans your hands and the table surface. I pop the used one back in the box to keep it moist and will use it til it falls apart...I love having them.
Oooh, am SURE you'll love those Holbeins...will watch for a post from you once you get them.

11-23-2003, 06:01 PM
Thanks for the info, Dyin. I'm ordering the Holbeins, can't wait to try them!


Kathryn Wilson
11-23-2003, 06:21 PM
Continuing with my OP practice, I did this for the Weekend Drawing Event sponsored by the good folks over at the Drawing Forum:

OP's on black mat board, 1 hour, combination of Holbeins, Caran D'Ache and a touch of Senneliers:


11-23-2003, 07:18 PM
ooooh, Kat...cool....I love how you ran the purple over the grass and the boat pops out at you....what's next???:evil: :D

Kathryn Wilson
11-23-2003, 07:33 PM
Well, look who'se talkin' - haven't seen much from you lately -

:evil: :evil: :evil: :angel:

11-23-2003, 08:54 PM

11-23-2003, 11:22 PM
Originally posted by kyle
Continuing with my OP practice, I did this for the Weekend Drawing Event sponsored by the good folks over at the Drawing Forum:

Love the texture in it Kat!

11-24-2003, 07:36 AM
Interesting observations, Kat.
Do you find that the Senneliers differ in characteristics from color to color? The only Senelliers I have now that I would call "slick" are the iridescents. The others fall under the gooey/sticky/pasty range. (which isn't necessarily bad) When I was buying some individually last summer, I tried them out on a scrap of paper and found many of them were not very opaque at all, and some were. (I wanted opaque.) My biggest complaint about Senneliers is that they don't layer well; sometimes all they do is remove the first layer!
If I could only have one brand I would choose Holbeins. I'm surprised you don't find them opaque enough on dark paper- I use them on dark paper all the time. But I like Caran D'Ache and Sennelier, too, and each has colors the other brands lack.

Eileen, I keep a paper towel in my other hand so I can quickly give the pastel a twist on the end or wiprdown on one side. I don't bother cleaning them until I use them, because they get dirty on the sides from my fingers.
I discovered Art Guard barrier cream last summer. A dab on fingertips before working means that the pastel comes right off my hands with paper towel .

Kathryn Wilson
11-24-2003, 08:51 AM
Hi Sundiver: I just tried all my Senneliers out on a piece of black mat board - there are some slight differences between colors. Some are waxier (slicker), others are very gooey - surprisingly my red was the driest. They all cover pretty well.

The Holbeins I find you just can't get those really bright whites and yellows to be as light as you want either on the black mat board or over darker colors.

I was going to suggest to Eileenclaire to use the fingertips I have seen in all the catalogs. But coming from using the dusty pastels, these are not half as bad!