|Question: Patricia writes: what is the difference between pastels and conte and chalk with regards to how it holds to the paper and longevity etc? I've noticed lately that the stores carry conte in many colors, where there only used to be varying shades of brown and black and white.
Answer: The difference between pastels, conte and chalks, is in the way they are made. Each has a varying degree of calcium carbonate ( actual chalk ) and binders . Conte is a grease free French crayon made from pigment and binder, and comparable to hard pastels. It used to be available in black, white, sanguine and sepia, but now comes in many colours. Chalk is pure calcium carbonate, and pastels are chalk mixed with an aqueous gum binder. Conte and chalk are considered drawing media whereas pastels are considered painting media. If applied to pastel paper, or quality paper with a substantial tooth, all three media will hold well to the paper and last a long time, if "fixed" carefully. I prefer conte because it is not as soft ( and messy and dusty ) as pastels, but to each his or her own choice. Try a bit of all of them and decide which "feels" best for you. Hope this helps