Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A wee experiment with PanPastels

Well hello all! It's nice to see you, and nice to be blogging again. :D Nothing really happened in the last, oh, year or so that I stopped blogging here, lol - no family emergencies, no mid-life crisis', no life-changing events. I just wasn't doing any experiments. It happens - my need to be an art scientist waxes and wanes. However, with Spring springing, and me learning new art techniques, there are a few things I'm wanting to try out. And of course, when I try something out, I want to share it, in case it will benefit anyone else.

Today, I did just an easy experiment with PanPastels. I've been hearing about these little stacks of wonder from so many places, and they've inspired some serious art supply lust in me. From what I understand, people are enthralled with PanPastels because of the lack of dust and their blendability. I love how Teesha Moore uses them to shade her journal pages. I limited myself to one, and only one, as a tester - at $5 per pastel (and that's at Dick Blick - it was a little over $6 at my local art supply store), this is not an art supply I can just run out and invest in a whole set.

Let me add a couple of caveats before I get started. First, I am not a pastel artist. I cannot even begin to comment on whether this is the right product for the real pastel artists out there. I'm just a beginning crafter/artist, who likes to dabble with lots of art supplies, and so this experiment is geared for folks like me - the dabblers. :D The second caveat is that this experiment was quick and dirty (literally, lol - my hands are a nice shade of grey at the moment), so I've foregone a lot of my usual structure when it comes to this experiment.

Ok, on with the experiment!

I wanted to test a couple of things with this experiment:

1. Are PanPastels really less dusty?
2. Is there any difference in the color intensity, between the PanPastel and the Sennelier soft pastels that I have? Meaning, can I swipe a sponge over a Sennelier soft pastel, and get them to blend like the PanPastel, without losing color intensity along the way?
3. Can I use cheap cosmetic sponges to apply the PanPastels, or is it really better to use the Sofft tools that PanPastel makes for these?

Here's the picture that reveals all:

(click to enlarge)

The Results:

1. Are PanPastels really less dusty?

YES, by far. While I did get some dust using their Sofft tool, and more dust using cheap cosmetic wedges and eyeshadow applicators, it was nothing compared to the Sennelier soft pastel.

2. Is there any difference in color intensity between a PanPastel and a Sennelier soft pastel?

Yes, it seems PanPastels do have more intensity, using the sponge method. But, it's also hard to tell from my experiment, because I don't have a black Sennelier soft pastel, so I'm not comparing black to black. Also, I didn't use the No. 958 Cinereous Grey Sennelier (my darkest Sennelier pastel) as it was made to be used - by drawing with it. So no, it didn't come out as dark, by just swiping the sponge over it, and applying the sponge to the page. However, it may darken up significantly with more layers.

I wanted to see if I could blend a Sennelier pastel like it was a PanPastel (because I already have a set of Sennelier's, and Sennelier also makes glittery, shimmery pastels that are just so beautiful), and it looks like I can - I'm just going to need more layers. Or maybe I should just draw with it and use an eyeshadow sponge to blend it out. See, I told you I wasn't a pastel artist - they'd know how to achieve that soft, blendy look with a Sennelier. :D

3. Can I use cheap cosmetic sponges, or do I really need to use the Sofft tools that PanPastel makes for these?

Well, that's a matter of personal preference. There is a difference between using the Sofft sponge, and using a drug-store cosmetic sponge. With the Sofft tool, there was less dust, and the pastel seemed to blend more, and come out softer. However, with the cosmetic sponge (and subsequently, the eyeshadow sponges), the color is closer to a true black, with harder "lines". It's not quite as "blendy". So, if you want your PanPastel to show up darker, and not be as soft, then use cosmetic sponges. It will certainly save you money!

As a bonus, I also tried to swipe an eyeshadow sponge over some willow vine charcoal, and apply it like I had the Sennelier soft pastel, just to see how the Black PanPastel would compare with the charcoal. Wow, is all I can say - PanPastel has got charcoal beat as far as a true black goes - at least, the way I applied it. If I'd drawn with the charcoal, it might have come out much darker.

So that's it, a quick and dirty experiment with a PanPastel. I'm not sure I'm sold. I love how soft and blendy it looks, but I also wonder if I can achieve that look with my Sennelier's, that I've already invested money in. So for me, the jury is still out.