Gesso … coloured pencils … email gods not on my side

Hello everyone.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I cannot sent out emails on any of my email accounts. ( and my my art page It happened since ‘Outlook’ changed to a new version. Receiving emails thankfully still works. I hope everyone writing in, will also find their questions answered in my blog posts here.

First of all, I want to thank A. for the lovely message back in April. First, I unfortunately did not see it or it was not shown, then when I finally did, I thought it was better to write you here. I hope you stumble over these lines. Your message was very much appreciated.

Dear W. , I just tried to send you my reply, but alas the email gods said no – several times. I also hope you will find my message here as well.  To the Gesso:  I haven’t got any news but maybe my blog entry about clear gesso last year might help. Maybe there ist something for you in Liquitex’ or Schmincke’s repertoire. Schmincke now labels their animal-free products  vegan.

In case you are writing to a company, always feel free to use my guideline sheet to attach to your enquiries.

Dear L, I will try and contact Kalour and Brutfuner in your coloured pencil quest. I do not recollect of milk derivatives being in coloured pencils, many brands have coloured pencil ranges without beeswax – which would not be a problem in your case being a vegetarian.  Tallow often appears in softer graded graphite pencils. Mostly 2B and softer, an example would be Derwent, but also graphite pencils from the brand Caran d’Ache contain tallow.

I don’t want to tread on anyone’s international foot, but in my research over the last seven years, there are companies in certain regions of the world that have yet to change their opinion on how they view animal lives. Nevertheless, I still hope I might get replies.


Thank you all for visiting here on your art material quests and for bearing with me, a sociophobic, agoraphobic hermit. My replies might take a bit longer, but your mail is never overlooked; also please check in on here, for my replies, because of me not being able to send out mails at the moment.


Derivan’s cruelty-free statement

Thank you to my reader M, for letting me know that Derivan have their cruelty-free statement now up on their website.

Here you can find Derivan’s statement.

Derivan’s statement – screenshot April 1st, 2024

Source: reader mail; Derivan website

Derivan’s listing in my compendium.

Not much news about Holbein

Recently I was asked about Holbein again and whether only the pigments for the coloured pencils get dispersed with a small amount of animal fats/ oils.

I looked up my correspondence from 2017 and from October and November of 2023.

Their reply of March 2017 does not conclude only the pigments in the coloured pencils were meant but the reply was about pigments used in their products.

In November 2023, they let me know, that back in 2017, they only considered the pigments in the coloured pencils not all the ingredients used in the coloured pencils. They confirmed in Oct and Nov 2023, that also the wax used in the coloured pencils was of animal origin (animal fat).

We cannot automatically deduce only the pigments used in the coloured pencils product line were dispersed with animal fat/oil. It was not specified in 2017 and in Okt and Nov 2023 there is only the comparison drawn that they looked only at the pigments in the coloured pencils not the other ingredients used for the coloured pencils.

They still are learning about what is vegan/ free of animal derivatives and the nuances. Back in 2017, being approached with the topic was new to them.

They used the past tense in their correspondence from late last year (2023), so I do not know, whether they have changed ingredients and the material used as surfactant to disperse the pigments.

A small side note: in March 2017, brush cleaners contained squalene from deep sea sharks (Brush Cleaner LT and Odorless Brush Cleaner); some products contained bone black, ox gall or animal based glue. (again old information from 2017)

Touching the cruelty-free topic, they stated in Nov 2023, they themselves do not test on animals.

Here is my Holbein compendium entry.


Source: Mail contact


Oil paints so far …

I was asked about oil paints the other day. Unfortunately for oil paints, I have only a few products to mention, and not a vast variety.

In 2022, Faber Castell’s Creative Studio oil paints set and Faber Castell’s  tempera oil paints were free of animal derivatives.

In September 2023, I received the information that Caran d’Aches’ entire Neopastel line was free of animal derivatives.

Faber Castell Compendium entry

Caran D’Ache post

Caran d’Ache Compendium entry


Winsor & Newton Update

Winsor and Newton information  – status: December 2024

Summary of Winsor & Newton and Colart’s response:

Some of Winsor & Newton’s products contain animal derived ingredients, such as their Ox gall medium.

The majority of their raw materials do not contain animal derivatives, however they cannot guarantee for their products to be completely free of animal derivatives, if animal based raw materials are present at the manufacturing site or raw materials come into contact with material of  animal based origins in the supply chain.

For this reason, they cannot confirm any of their products to be certified “vegan-friendly”/ being completely free of animal derivatives.

The paint industry in the EU and UK do not test products on animals, though chemicals for all chemical products may have been tested historically due to EU and UK regulations.

Finished products are never tested on animals. Hazardous classification is determined through available information.

They are in the process of gathering  information on their supply chain of all their products’ formulations to be able to classify some of their products to be free of animal derivatives /vegan-friendly in the future.

Source: mail contact

compendium entry

enquiries sent out and more: Papermate, Uniball, Winsor & Newton

  • Dec 7th 2023, enquiry sent to Winsor & Newton for an update; last contacted in 2017
  • Dec 7th, enquiry sent to Papermate, or more accurately I filled in the contact form and either it went through or not; it was not conclusive, though I tried several times.
Papermate’s stance on animal testing – Dec 7th, 2023

on their website I found out, that they are a Newell brand, and you’ll find their stance on animal testing in their FAQ  list.

Direct quote from Papermate’s list of FAQs as of Dec 7th, 2023 :

“As a leading manufacturer of quality products, great care is put into the type of ingredients and formulations we use. Like you, we are also concerned about animal testing. Every effort is made to avoid such practices. While we do our best, we cannot guarantee that some of the third-party, indirect suppliers are as sensitive to this issue as we are. We do however strongly encourage our direct suppliers to work with their partners to avoid these practices.”


  • Uniball / Mitsubishi have so far ( since 2017) declined to comment and since then also declined to reply to product information enquiries.


You find my information sheet, I send out to all the companies, here.

Finally, here you will find my 2017 post on company family trees, which mentions Newell brands.


sources: company websites, mail contact

Luminance and Polychromos – the differences

I was asked for advice about the differences of Luminance and Polychromos coloured pencils. First of all, I would like to say, if you have the chance to try both out, do it and see what fits your needs best.

They have both great lightfastness, the Polychromos range is bigger with 120 pencils. The Polychromos are a harder coloured pencil and they are oil based. The Luminance coloured pencils are wax based, of a creamy consistancy. You also have to check for exceptions with the Luminance range, not all are free of animal derivatives ( exceptions ).

Generally, what  I found was:

for Luminance (Caran d’Ache):

  • creamy consistancy
  • very vibrant
  • practically able to burnish and layer infinitely
  • the white Luminance coloured pencil and other light colours are great for highlights
  • effortless dense burnishing with not much pressure
  • 76 colours available
  • wax based
  • great lightfastness


for Polychromos (Faber-Castell):

  • harder coloured pencil
  • oil based
  • 120 colours
  • 3 metallics in the 120 colour range – gold, silver and copper – that do not apply well to not at all
  • allows to sharpen into very pointy tip
  • great for very fine details
  • soft colouring and blending
  • are limited in layering /burnishing layers
  • great lightfastness


Luminance and Polychromos apply both well on top of watercolour, with gentle touch on top of gouache (with more pressure the gouache gets grated off) and on top of matte acrylics.

It is truly up to your own preference, what colour shades you need and the purpose you need them for. I use both.

For pencil dust removal, I mostly use a vegan baby kabuki make-up brush , which is great to get the pencil dust off of small areas. For larger areas I use a brush with handle, which is called “Zeichenbesen” in German. It looks like the brush you use with a dustpan (or a short handled toothbrush). If you dust with your hand, you risk smudging.

Another option are the watercolour pencil ranges (Albrecht Dürer and Supracolour Soft are my examples), which apply creamier compared to  e.g. the Polychromos.


You find my latest Caran d’Ache blog post here ; and my compendium entry. Remember, not all Luminance coloured pencils are free of animal derivatives, there are exceptions.

My latest blog post about Faber-Castell is over here , and there is also my compendium entry.



Looking for encaustic wax free of animal derivatives

Hello there,

today I am asking you for advice. A reader approached me about vegan encaustic wax, an alternative to beeswax. I never stumbled upon it so far. I do know that soy wax gets used as alternative in candles, but would it work for encaustic? Could you use soy wax and colour it with melted crayons e.g. Caran d’Ache’s Neocolor I s  (except 028) or Faber-Castell’s  studio oil pastels? Is that a thing? Could you McGuyver it like this?

What wax would work as encaustic substitute to beeswax?

I only know of soy wax in candles and in cosmetics of candelilla, carnauba, berry wax and there is also sunflower wax.

If anyone here knows about a brand that offers vegan encaustic wax or if you have your own experiences with it, I would like to hear from you.


Good News: Caran d’Ache

I am very glad to be the messenger of such good news.

Caran d’Ache sent me their certificate of compliance .

I contacted them for products free of animal derivatives  – including manufacturing process- and for their cruelty-free status. And good tidings I bring.

Please see the Caran D’Ache certificate of compliance and pay attention to exceptions in product lines. Some products contain the pigment ivory black, which is of an animal source.

Neither products nor raw materials get tested on animals.


the cruelty-free status of Caran d’Ache
  • Caran d’Ache does not test on animals
  • does not commission other parties to do so.
  • their raw material suppliers do not test on animals nor commission animal testing for raw materials sourced by the company
  • Caran d’Ache does not use MSDS/ Material Safety Data Sheets, which data was collected through animal testing in the last decades.


Product lines free of animal derivatives (with exceptions of products containing the pigment ivory black):

Caran d’Ache – certificate of compliance issued September 13th, 2023

Source: mail contact

Holbein update : no changes

I initially contacted Holbein back in 2017 and now did so again, to see whether there might have been some changes to make  their coloured pencils ingredients now suitable. Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed. Back then I was informed of the use of animal fats to disperse the pigments. As of now, they cannot give any guarantee.

No further information was disclosed.


So here is my up to date listing for my compendium:

manufacturer: Holbein

currently no products free of animal derivatives available

cruelty-free level: no information disclosed


I am sorry about the disappointing news. I hope there will be changed in the future and I will circle back to them in some years.

source: mail contact