Drawing is fun. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably done it all your life! I liked to draw as a kid, like many kids do. On a trip to the Ben Franklin, I begged my mom for a set of crayons that the package told me could be activated with a wet brush…just like paint. What could be better than watercolor you can draw with, I thought. The world is a wonderful place! Imagine my crushing disappointment when I got home and my new crayons did not perform as advertised…they weren’t even a little water soluble! It obviously still haunts me. I’m happy to report that Wet Paint has a bunch of top notch drawing materials that play nicely with water…we’re not gonna wreck a little kid’s day (or a big kid’s, either!).
Painting with watercolor is hard. It’s very immediate – like drawing – but there’s no backsies. It’s transparent and – mostly – not removable. The beauty of working with water soluble drawing materials is that they’re easier to “fix”…you have the option to use water, but you don’t have to. Draw dry and leave it be if you want. But – if you want to activate part (or all) of your drawing with a painterly flourish – go for it. You can move & blend as much or as little as you want, in a very controlled way. It truly is like watercolor without the commitment (thanks to my friend Megan Vossler for this line which I’ve used hundreds of times since she first coined it!).
A few years ago, one of our favorite importers started bringing in Artgraf products from Viarco, fine art drawing materials manufacturers in Portugal. Their “Tailor Shape” carbon disc quickly became my most favorite art supply. It had almost everything: – Dense, dark marks? Check. The Carbon Disc is basically a black crayon, but what a black crayon! The line is reminiscent of a finer litho crayon or China marker, but it’s more versatile than either (see below). – Easy to use, easy to hold? Check. The unique “Tailor Shape” (it’s like the little tablet the tailor uses to make marks on your clothes for alterations) fits comfortably in your hand and allows you to use the edge for fine lines, the sides for broad strokes. – Blendable dry or wet? Check. Sure, you can smudge it like any old crayon, but its water solubility is its magic. Pass a wet brush over a line and watch it move. Touch a wet brush to your Carbon Disc and brush it on paper…you would swear it’s India ink! Deep, dark passages, or subtle, barely there washes…they are all available to you.
Remember I said the Carbon Disc had almost everything? Well, it was only black. Hardly a problem, but I had dreams of a white to go with the black. Instead I got six fantastic Earth Color Carbon Discs, then – later – three Primary Color Carbon Discs (same shape, same properties, lotsa colors that mix beautifully), but no white. Until this past November, when the Monochromatic Set arrived. My favorite black Carbon Disc was joined by Graphite Grey and long-awaited White! Now you can draw with an entire range of tones, tints and colors…take that childhood disappointment!
Speaking of childhood, the watersoluble crayons I should have gotten as a youngster – if I had Wet Paint there to help me – are Caran d’Ache’s Neocolor II. 84 colors of water-blendable goodness that are perfect for coloring and drawing. Many people are familiar with these crayons as face paint. Though that is not their intended use, it does give you a sense of their creaminess and water solubility. Neocolor II’s are a staple at Wet Paint…we’ve got all 84 colors individually as well as in sets.
Caran d’Ache also produces the most highly regarded water soluble colored pencil, the Museum Aquarelle. Marks made with Museum pencils that have been blended with water are indistinguishable from traditional tube or pan watercolor. The 76 colors are remarkably lightfast, just like an artists’ grade paint. These are the best of the best.
English pencil manufacturer Derwent has been producing pencils since 1832. Their Inktense extra vibrant, “ink like” watercolor pencils are still one of the most asked for products at Wet Paint, years after their introduction captivated artists worldwide. More recently, Derwent launched a short range of traditional graphite and charcoal blocks, but with a few twists: the blocks are BIG, the blocks have color, and the blocks are water soluble. They are: Derwent’s XL Blocks! The XL Graphite range contains four super subtle shades, plus traditional graphite tones in soft and extra soft. Imagine a big, squared 4B pencil without the wood! Similarly, Derwent’s XL Charcoal Blocks come in four rich, natural colors, plus black and white. They handle just like the less hearty compressed charcoals you’ve used in the past…they’re just bigger and stronger! XL Blocks are available individually, or in handsome metal tin sets of six Graphite or Charcoal Blocks.
And this just scratches the surface. I could fill a whole other post talking about watercolor pencils from Faber Castell (Durer & Durer Magnus), Koh-I-Noor (Mondeluz), Bruynzeel and Prismacolor, as well as water soluble graphite from Faber Castell, General’s, Cretacolor, Viarco (kneadable graphite…wow!), and Lyra. But you get the idea. We’ve got the water soluble drawing supplies to make every artists’ dream come true!