Derwent Artbars – trying out my birthday present.

I had a birthday this week and amongst my presents was a very generous gift voucher to my favourite art shop from the youngest son. He had a look and couldn’t decide what I would like best so left me to choose. I love a gift voucher to this shop as it means I can buy something I’d like to try but wouldn’t normally spend my money on.I’d been eyeing off these Derwent Artbars for some time but never could justify their hefty price tag so it seemed fated when I saw they were just $1 more than the voucher.

They’re a lovely set of watersoluable wax bars set out in brights, lights, earth tones and darks. I love the triangular shape which gives lots of edges for mark making. I had a play this weekend and here are the results…


First I just played with the artbars, drawing loops in bands of colour and then laying in a water wash. Then I turned the paper 180 degrees and layed in more loops over the wash while it was still a little wet. I loved the way the bars slipped over the wet surface yet left quite discrete marks. This was a great way to try the colours and the result is a little geometric rainbow.

wildflower painting
Wildflower painting

Next I tried a little impressionism. Inspired by a photo taken in Tuscany of a field of wildflowers in sunlight and shadow I made some basic swathes of colour for the sunlight and shadow, dropped in some water to blend the colours a little. While it was still wet I jabbed away with the artbars making marks for flowers and later dropped in a little watercolour. Finally I finished up with some soft pastel highlights. I quite like this little field of flowers.

I definitely enjoyed these artbars and will have to try incorporating them into some of my mixed media paintings. I also enjoyed making small square paintings and might work on an artbar squares series as a way of developing ideas on how to best use them. Art is exploration after all!




7 thoughts on “Derwent Artbars – trying out my birthday present.

  1. I never heard of these, what a wonderful gift! I really love your impressionistic flowers, I kept wanting to get a close-up view of it though. I hope that you will show more of your painting with them. Can you compare it to another medium? do they feel and act like oil pastels?


    1. Hi Margaret, they are a bit like oil pastels but don’t have that slippery king of feel you get with oil pastels .. until you use them on a wet surface and then they really glide on. I,m going to enjoy playing some more with them and will post some more photos soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What interesting things you find! And then use! What a generous lad second son is, { I counted how many you had bought!} Happy playing with them. The wildflower pic is lovely! Margaret, I clicked on the plus sign when I opened the painting in email, and brought it up as large as I wanted to. Hope your email gives you that option too.


    1. The wildflowers were fun. I have to admit I have some stuff siting on my shelf that I’ve had for a while and haven’t actually used yet! Come retirement I plan to be busy trying some of those interesting things out.


  3. Thanks Claudette. I plan to try a bigger one soon. The beauty of wildflowers is just laying down lots of colours in a very uncontrolled way at the start – and then seeing where it takes you.


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