There is still a little pile of unused art supplies on my desk from the sponsors at the USk Symposium — among them a silver box of assorted Cretacolor pencils. I was particularly interested in one called Nero extrasoft, because it’s an oil-based charcoal that is water-resistant. It doesn’t have that scratchy feeling that charcoal does when you draw with it. In fact it’s very creamy and extra black, and it really only smudges when you push it around with your finger on the paper. From the bit of research that I did the pencils come in different hardnesses which would probably give you a sharper line than I achieved here, but I really like the inky blacks that you can get. I may have to try it using a simple contour line and a light wash to see what that gives me.


23 Comments on “Nero”

  1. Lee Kline says:

    Very rich. I am going to Google Cretacolor Pancils right away. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Angie Macleod says:

    That tree and pots are becoming famous! Nice contrasts too!

  3. Isa says:

    It was such a pleasure meeting you in BCN, Shari! As I mentioned I look forward to your posts each night 😉 The insights in technique and your plein air setup are always interesting and inspire to try something new.
    I´ve not tried the cretacolor yet, but I´ve put some tubes of Aureolin, Crimson and Ultramarin to good use. Tomorrow I´ll meet some dozens of sketchers and illustrators at the SketchCrawl in A Coruña, where a bookfair is held and they asked us to organize a meeting. I´ll probably talk a lot about BCN and your workshop as many of them would have loved to participate but didn´t get a spot.
    A war hug from Galicia =)

    • Isabell, meeting you in Barcelona was a highlight for me too. I think we learn so much from each other. I hope the sketchCrawl goes well. Feel free to copy my handout if you still have it hanging it around. People who missed the symposium might appreciate it. Or I can send you the pdf…
      Big hug back from Montreal!!

      • Isa says:

        Of course I have! I´ll take it to Coruña tomorrow and share the scan with interested sketch mates with your permission. Thanks a lot, Shari!! You´re so generous!
        I wish I could share some sketching with you once in a while!
        But now a war+m hug 😉

  4. Mrs. P says:

    Sounds like a great alternative to oil pastels. Do they come in different colors?

  5. van1sothea says:

    Reblogged this on van1sothea and commented:
    look so real

  6. Ross says:

    I really liked this one, not just because it was really well-handled as a simple value sketch, but because it was different. Sorry to tell you, but you were getting just a bit predictable… when the email notification arrives each day, it is “I wonder what Shari has done today… oh, so it is another gorgeous, stunning, interesting watercolour”… you know, when it happens day after day, it just gets to be predictable. So it was really nice to see this one. : )

    • I know. Even I was getting a bit bored of my own work : )

      • Ross says:

        I didn’t say that I was “bored”!!!! It is just that you are predictably consistent. : )

      • Oh, phew. I thought predictable equaled boring.

      • Ross says:

        Well, I’m glad we cleared that up.
        So, with the pencils, does the point tend to crumble/break when you apply pressure? As you know, I love using pencils and my only frustration is that if I go for the darker grades (6B, etc) I find they tend to break when I push harder… so I tend to use 2B or similar… but I would prefer a darker/richer black for contrast.

    • You might want to try these. They seem to be fine when you apply pressure but as you can see they might need frequent sharpening.
      I have also been wanting to try a carbon pencil. Have you ever tried that? It seems you can get really dark blacks with that too.

      • Ross says:

        Well therein lies the problem… I would like a pencil which gives rich blacks, doesn’t break when you apply pressure and doesn’t need sharpening. : )
        As for carbon pencils, I can’t remember if I have tried them… I’ll look in my junk box which is full of art materials that I bought with great intentions but used just once (or sometimes not at all)… I will report back. Do you think pencils have a use-by date, because there is some pretty old stuff in there?

      • I think those pencils are good forever Ross : ) I just found a carbon pencil today and was going to try it out but forgot to bring along my sharpener. I’ll let you know if it breaks under pressure.

  7. The values here are gorgeous. I’m trying to get myself to let go of my color for a bit and play in greyscale… need a bit of changing things up, just to keep myself from getting bored.

  8. Chris Rusk says:

    I wonder if the oil based charcoal pencil would be suitable for stone lithography? (Like a stick of tusche?)

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