If someone hasn't said that already, consider it said.
I got nuthin'. I got a painting 3/4ths done and no motivation. I'll finish it--James likes it--but at the moment...nuthin'. So I went over to the art supply store, grabbed some more pen nibs and some oil paint sticks--one of the few readily available media I haven't tried yet, without getting into crap like egg tempera and boiling lead--and now a set of 5 x 7 gessoboard, clayboard, and textured clayboard samples have acrylic dryin' on 'em round the studio, to see if I can do the scratchy inky thing over the top--and possibly, if I get very very ambitious, see how the paint sticks work. They're supposed to be a lot less trouble than oil paints to work with, without getting into the problem of water soluable oils, which, after multiple experiments, I find I just don't like. They go chalky and muddy too easily. I mostly want the paint sticks for very delicate smeary background color, but if they prove workable, they may find their way into the last bits of the foreground.
I have a particular vision for what I'm trying to claw out--sort of Christensen-swaps-brains-with-Palencar-a
The big problem, being a mixed media fiend, is finding a surface that takes everything I want to throw at it. My usual surface must take ink wash, ink pen, colored pencil, acrylic--fine, I've got illo board for that. But if I want to use oils, I have to find something else, because illustration board is not archival with oil--the oil will eventually eat right through the board. So I'm trying various Ampersand clayboards to see if I can get what I want on one of those--gessoboard is probably the best bet, it'll take a lot, although the colored pencil is occasionally iffy, but if it takes the nib pen well, I can dispense with a lot of the colored pencil work.
Of course, I may hate the oil sticks as I have hated every oil thing so far, rendering it moot, but you never learn if you don't try.
Round 1: All three surfaces will take dip pen and india ink fairly gracefully.
Round 2: All three will take white ink, but clayboard doesn't take it as well--the individual strokes stick out more, and parts are blobby, whereas the two textured boards suck the ink right up.
Round 3: All three will take colored pencil. Clayboard gets a smoother and crisper line. Textured clayboard builds up much quicker and gets harder to work with, but does get a nice solid color.
Deathmatch: We have a winner! Gessoboard, not to my surprise, takes the oil stick very well. That's no surprise--oils and smooth clayboard don't mix at all. The textured clayboard wasn't bad, but you couldn't get good coverage over a dark color, whereas the gessoboard could (although you had to work at it.)
The paint sticks are kinda neat. I used them more or less like pastel--lay a swath, blend with fingers. Had a nice creamy consistency, and they actually dry, unlike oil pastel, which only hardens. They're big clumsy things, though--although you can apparently use 'em with brushes as well--so I don't see much hard detail there. But they go lightest-to-darkest, instead of the other way around, which is definitely a plus. I have a bloody hard time going darkest-to-lightest, the way you're supposed to with oils for some reason.
I could wish that gessoboard took colored pencil better--it will, but not half so well as the clayboard--but you can't have everything.