Saturday, January 28, 2012

1st entry for Jan 15, 2012

On the Sunday, I went the TSA to do some sketching during the day. L-  was working.  On an oversight, I forgot to pack my little box of various charcoals.  I had some of the rectangular `super black' charcoal with me, so I started with that. The top image is a 10-minute study, using that on 18 x 24 Canson Sketch paper.

I observed that I was lacking materials, and one of the other drawers loaned me a stick of Conte compressed charcoal, from an old box she had. The lower two are 15-minute studies on sheets of the same paper, using the Conte charcoal. I liked the texture of it quite a bit- it wasn't a deep black, and had a hard but creamy texture like a cross between General's charcoal and Nupastel.  I was intrigued enough that I sought some more for myself.

I was a bit disappointed when I took out some of the new Conte charcoal. The texture was more waxy, the pigment blacker, and the sticks far more brittle than the one from Sang's much older box. It reinforced my sense that Conte's quality has materially changed in the last few years, and not for the better.  Too bad, as they were a `gold-standard' art material company for decades.  But now package redesign seems to be getting more emphasis than content. I'd be happy with vintage packaging, if I could depend on what's inside to perform really well.

To be fair,  it is possible that time alters the nature of their charcoal binder, and my new stuff may come round to behave like the older stick in 10 years, but I doubt it, somehow.

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