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Saw the note and reply regarding black and white oil pastels. Cattle
markers are a fine idea, as long as it's understood that they won't
perform or be permanent in the same way as a true artist quality
Artist quality products are costly but, as with anything else, you get
what you pay for. Artist quality oil pastels offer a measured degree of
lightfastness, intermixability, and consistency. If used properly, they
will remain secure upon the painting surface for decades or
generations. Cattle markers are formulated to remain on a cow for how
If you're interested in a large oil pastel stick, Winsor & Newton offers
their Oilbar product in a great, hefty, fistful-of-color stick. It may
not be cheap, but it's big, it's pure color, and it's going to outlast a
cow -- or generations of cows.
Another common misapplication by students is with the use of house paint
as a canvas primer or gesso. Artist's gesso is carefully and
concientously formulated to last for generations, as well as to offer
the ideal degree of absorption for applied color. House paint is
formulated as a top coat and for a life of 10 to 15 years. What
students may gain in economy when using house paint as a primer, they
will pay for down the road when their paintings begin to disintegrate.
I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from using alternative materials;
simply trying to make certain that their application and any potential
results are well understood.
Art Services, Inc.
Contributing Editor for The Artist's Magazine