MY EXPERIENCES WITH
I had read that Cretacolor "artists' chalk" was similar to Conte crayons, and since they will no longer be making the version of Conte crayons that I have been using for years now, I decided to try them. I found a great sale on the Cretacolor sticks on an art supply website, and ordered the biggest set they have (72 sticks) so I could try all of the colors. As soon as the set arrived I opened it and made a color chart with every one of the colors, and I photographed them, but it was several days before I got up the nerve to try them. My Conte crayons were running out, and so I had to try them.
I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE CRETACOLOR STICKS. I needed them to work for me, as I bought so many of them. Yet, although they might be very suitable for someone else's artwork, to me they seem to make my pictures cold and lifeless, no matter how many "warm" colors I may use. They also make my pictures look more like "drawings" than "paintings." Of course, I refer to them as "drawings" for the most part anyway, but I realize now that indeed my technique with the Conte Crayons produce pictures that are more like paintings; I love to draw, with pencil and charcoal and pen and ink, but with the colors I like to make something that is more like a painting.
The Cretacolor sticks (crayons or chalks or pastels, or whatever they should be called, I'm not sure) seem to be of good quality, and they have a very wide range of colors that look very lovely in the box -- yet all the colors, even the oranges and reds and yellows, seem cold and sterile-looking (for my subjects and the way I view them). Also, the "sticks" are harder than the Conte Crayons -- They're more like the "classic" Conte Crayon colors than the "colorful" ones that I've been using until now. Therefore, being hard they tend to produce a "linear" effect rather than a soft, painterly effect. So, I am unhappy with them.
There are good things about them, though, and one is that if you really make a mess of things, you can actually take a brush and water and "paint" over what you've drawn -- It does not necessarily look like the color you had on there to start with when you're done "painting" over your drawing, but at least it works like a very good fixative so that when it's dry again, you can put down more color with the sticks just as if you were drawing on paper that hadn't been drawn on yet. That's good, and that's what makes me think that while I still have these, I can use them (Cretacolor) as a first stage, and work on top of it with some type of "pastel" that has "earthier" colors and are softer.
Meantime, I am still trying different kinds of paper that I have around the house (not much variety, but there are still some I haven't tried), and now that I'm getting very frustrated by the Cretacolor experience and the awful pictures I'm making, I'm getting steamed up enough to try some experiments -- such as using other mediums on top of what I've done with Cretacolor, and also changing my technique somewhat...but I still hope to find something more similar to the colorful Conte crayons!
P.S. I have gotten so frustrated with the Cretacolors that I finally decided that I would make use of their ugliness -- They have been horrible for the style of drawings that I have been doing and feel comfortable with, but I am not a person who wastes things, especially things that cost a lot of money. I decided to simply (temporarily) change my style when I use them.
The Cretacolors scream with ungodly 'unreal' colors and assert themselves in a very forceful way, so I figured that I would take a subject and make it purposely look strong and forceful, and not try at all to make it look gentle and delicate. I would instead try to make it look very "masculine" (rough, strong, full of life, but controlled) -- not my usual style, but it's what the Cretacolors were demanding of me.
OTHER CONTE CRAYONS PAGES