Conte Pencils

Conte pencils have been manufactured since 1795 and whilst their pastel pencils are well known, the watercolour version is less frequently seen. Conté are part of the large European ColArt group.

Pastel pencils

The main coloured pencil product from Conte is the pastel pencil which comes in a set of up to 48.

These are discussed in more detail in the Pastel Pencil section, but the Conte pastel pencils are fairly hard to the touch, and also come in a slightly oversized pencil which may not fit your mechanical sharpener.

Watercolour pencils

The full set of Watercolour Conte pencils consists of 36 colours and includes a sponge and a small brush.  Uniquely for a relatively small set there are three ‘flesh’ colours. I have no knowledge of the general level of lightfastness, but in my experience they seem to perform well. If you find them at a good price and are looking for a small aquarelle set, these could be useful. They are available at Amazon in sets of 12 or 24. 

Wax type conte pencils

As far as wax type coloured pencils are concerned, Conte market a non soluble coloured pencil which is woodfree. The thin core is encased in what is described as a resin material which does not splinter. They do look quite smart in their glossy black livery but the pencils do not have any colour names or numbers on this with which to identify each one. The black shafts just show Color Pencil Conte in silver text. It is therefore tricky to identify each pencil in the tin and if you try them I would advise creating a colour chart for yourself.

They come in sets of 12 and 24. and appear to be targeted at the educational market. I have the 24 set and find they are hard and do not put much pigment on the paper. However, they appear to be very transparent and could allow glazes of colour over the top of other work. Some of the colours included are very similar to each other. There is a mix of bright and more muted colours in my tin. They do sharpen to a very fine point and actually feel quite nice in the hand.

I could not find any information about their lightfastness, but would not expect a brand at this price range to be very stable as they are not marketed for artists. 

On the right of the above colour chart for the wax based coloured conte pencils I laid the white over the black and then tried to blend a yellow and red together. By the time I had created this small chart my hand was aching from the pressure I needed to use to get the colour down on the paper!

I would not recommend these pencils unless you are on holiday (like I was when I bought mine) and can't find anything else.

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