Danny started the evening with a brief history of Conte Crayons.
He added that Conte is best used on courser paper. These type of crayon are also suitable for adding water to. Although, there were originally only three colours, by the time Degas was using them, there were many more colours. Nowadays, there are about 72 colours. Conte Crayons were an ideal medium for Degas, as being harder than pastels, he could get outlines where he needed them. At times, they also look like paintings.
At this point, we were set our first task, which was to draw Arturo Di Medici's statue of a bull that stands outside the New York Stock Exchange. We had ten minutes to do this, just using white, black and sanguine crayons to try and get a 3-dimensional shape.
This proved to be an interesting first attempt and for some reason when I photographed them the background paper looks brown instead of blue.
After the break, Danny showed us examples of several other artists' and their use of Conte Crayon including some studies by Seurat for one of his paintings. Here he explained how subtle variations in shade can be achieved.
We then looked at a Surrealist artist, Marion Adams. We were told that she spent a year drawing all of her pupils and became very proficient with pencil, but when she tried painting the figures, this skill did not come as easily.
Instead, she started using Conte crayons when drawing paper models before using these images in her finished paintings.
This was our next task; to draw one of these paper figures that Danny had brought with him.
This proved to be an interesting task and, after our earlier practice, a quite successful one. I'm not sure how many of us will start using Conte Crayons but it was fascinating to see what could be achieved with them.
Another excellent evening at the club led by a knowledgeable and helpful artist.