3 Media to Try

Watercolor Pencil
By Cathy Johnson
What it is
Sometimes called water–soluble pencils, they’re pure pigment that dissolve in water. They’re usually encased in wood, but some brands are “all lead,” meaning that the entire pencil is pigment, covered with a varnish or paint film to keep your fingers—and your art—clean. Some watercolor pencils are hard; others are soft and buttery. Some have intense, rich pigmentation; others have less and are more suitable for sketching than painting. Finally, some dissolve more readily in water than others.

Why you should try it
Because it’s simple but not too simple. Today’s best watercolor pencils are a truly fine–art medium, with a pigment quality every bit as high as in watercolors. But they have the advantage of being highly portable, and they’re wonderfully versatile, as well. You can use them as a sketching medium and wet the lines down later, leave them dry as a colored pencil drawing, or build layers in a painterly fashion for extremely rich works. You can work on the spot, en plein air, with only the addition of a brush or two and a container of water. When sharpened, the fine points of the pencils can create linear effects that are difficult to get with a brush.

Oil Pastel
By John Elliot
What it isTop–quality, ground color pigment with just enough binder to hold together as a stick. Unlike dry pastel, oil pastel stays put on the painting surface and doesn’t dust off. Otherwise, oil pastel is a true pastel in that it doesn’t create a surface skin like oil paint, and it shouldn’t be confused with oil sticks, which are oil paint in stick form.

Why you should try it
They’re dustless, nontoxic and versatile. They go on virtually any surface, including smooth surfaces lacking tooth. They’re fabulous for mixed–media work, they’re portable and they’re immediate—what you see is what you get. They’re also durable, and if you use stable materials and common–sense framing and storing procedures, oil pastels are among the longest lasting art materials available.

Water–miscible oils
By Sean Dye
What it is
Oil paint that can be thinned or cleaned up with water. Paint manufacturers have developed ways for oil and water to mix in the form of an emulsion temporarily while painting, similar to the mixing of oil, water and vinegar in salad dressing. Once the painting dries, the paint film becomes very similar (if not identical) to that of traditional oil.

Why you should try itWater–miscible oils let you experience oil painting without the danger, hassle or inconvenience of solvents—a great opportunity for art educators, artists with poorly ventilated studios and those who paint at home to avoid ventilation and disposal issues. Unlike fast–drying acrylics, water–miscible oils stay wet on the palette for hours, even in arid climates.

You may also like these articles:

COMMENT