Inktense blocks provide vibrant and versatile colour and are irresistible to both pastel and watercolour painters. These are the latest products put to the test by Karlee Gould from Treasure Studios!
The Derwent Inktense range is available as both pastel shaped blocks and pencils. The colours are available individually and in metal tin sets depending on your preference.
Getting a feel for the Derwent Inktense Blocks
“Before I explain how these blocks are to use I want to comment on how they feel.”
“They’re strangely delicate, and have a wax crayon type feel to the fingers. Yet there’s something chalk pastel-y about them, somewhere in between chalk and wax. I’m using the set of 12 that includes 7 or 8 super-bright colours and five or six slightly darker ones. The ‘or’ I’ve used there refers to a deep blue, that if used heavily goes very dark, but if you use it lightly it becomes very bright and vivid.When scrape the block colours across a new page you’ll see that they do have a pastel-y effect immediately. When you add water they take on a watercolour personality. The first thing you notice when you add water is how intensely bright they are. ‘Inktense’ is not a gimmicky name. “
“My plan was to first try the blues and pinks together, but I found out very quickly that it’s hard to stop using the blocks and I ended up with a rainbow in under a minute!”
“They do seem to take on an ink-like vividness, although they do behave and blend like watercolours. What makes them different is it seemed as though they didn’t bleed and pull into each other as much as watercolours do. Instead they only slightly
blended allowing you to push and pull the colour about with a brush and control how much you needed the colour to blend with its partner.”
“I tried a wash on some Bockingford paper with pure water, so that I could try scratching the whole width of one of these blocks down to see how intense the colour could get. My goodness! They are incredibly bright when you use them in this way.”
“It’s as if they melt away from themselves when you add water. I’d never want to accidentally leave one on top of some damp work in case I come back to a melted puddle of colour. That isn’t to say, that they disintegrate with water, in fact they barely change shape at all. It’s as if the colour’s just been conjured from each stick, rather than made of it.”
Putting the Blocks to the Test
“So I did unfortunately, end up breaking one of them. I thought I must have been a bit heavy-handed, but was unsure, so I thought I’d put it to the test. I picked up the black after I’d finished testing them out and began to try to break it – to see how much pressure it would take. They’re quite soft and it did break under a small amount of pressure. But I found out that if you add a little bit of water to both ends of each part and let them sit for a moment, you can push each end back together and let them dry, fusing them back to one piece. Super handy if you get too excited like I did, and manage to break one.”
Bright, warm tones
“My favourite colours from this set ended up being the yellow, orange and red simply because they created such a crazy golden sunset vibe when you mix them. They’re so intense and so bright”
“Once dry they go extremely opaque and have that same soft hybrid wax vs. chalk feel as the blocks, before you use them. If you paint water directly on top of dried inktense colours, you get the same effect as if you were using the block. What I mean by that is that it liquifies and melts exactly the same way as before. Although it stays on the page at the same time.”
“From the sheer vividness of these colours, I already know they are going to be a handy weapon in any artist’s arsenal. What’s more, you can also use them in small doses to create some very soft pastels and delicate mixtures. If you were to use them at their highest intensity, you would likely use them up quickly, but if you used them to create pastel ink works, I could see these being with you for a fair few years.
A New Favourite!
“While packing them up, what struck me again about the Inktense blocks was their consistency and texture, and how it changes with liquid. I kept having daydreams, while packing them away, about what you could do with them. A good indication that they’re exceptionally versatile I suppose!”
“I was thinking of ways I could start chopping some of them up and creating a thick paste, and muddling them up to make different colours. These could be experimented with for a lifetime!”
Have you tried using Derwent Inktense blocks or pencils? What did you think? Let us know!
More about Karlee
Karlee Gould is the founder of Treasures Studios, offering complete stationary packages for weddings and events, as well as bespoke stationary and branding design services.
Treasure Studios is an entirely vegan and eco-friendly design studio, so all the products reviewed and used by Karlee will be cruelty-free and suitable for use by vegan and vegetarian artists.
You can find all Karlee’s posts published in the GreatArt online magazine by clicking here!
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