In my post on 12 steps to organise your art and craft supplies, I shared with you how I carried out my art and craft supplies audit, so I could get to my art and craft dream and find my niche, and how you might benefit if you did one too.
So, what did I find in my stash after I conducted my art and craft supplies audit?
I found lots of things. But most of all – I found coloured pencils – 829 coloured pencils.
How did I get to have 829 coloured pencils?
Here’s my experience.
Dreaming the dream
A few years ago, I must have been in my day job dreaming about what I would do if I wasn’t there. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to get back to my early life passion.
In my first 27 years of life I enrolled in an art course full time. I badly wanted to do an art course. I was keen on doing art, and l loved doing it and I signed up and started the course.
Unfortunately, I didn’t last long and gave into the need to have financial security. I had to put petrol in my car let alone pay for its registration and my rent, as well as paying for other fun things.
My first set of artist pencils
Not long after I left the art course in the 1980’s, I bought a set of 24 Caran d’Ache Prismalo II Aquarelle pencils. The set had a brush enclosed in it.
I had never seen anything so lovely and I drew a picture of a tomato and apple on a lace cloth which I framed. The picture still hangs on my wall over 30 years later.
That picture kept my art passion alive and I gauge my current art progress against that picture I drew when I was 22 years old.
Anyway, on the backburner my art passions stayed – and remained that way for many years. But over the years, I kept buying art and craft supplies, and the purchases increased in the years the closer I reached my retirement.
This is how my art and craft passion progressed.
Does this sound similar to you? Do you have an art and craft passion that is being kept alive by a particular item?
Here are the steps it took for me to accumulate 829 coloured pencils.
1. Still loving the Caran d’Ache Prismalo II
The Caran d’Ache Prismalo II Aquarelle coloured pencils are no longer available with that name or branding. I still had 12 of the original pencils.
Yet I found a set of pencils online which is probably the Prismalo II equivalent.
I found a set of 120 the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle coloured pencils online which were on special. I had to have them.
They reignited my coloured pencil interest.
2. Art course providers online
I wanted to learn about drawing with coloured pencils. My purchase of those Caran d’Ache Supracolor II aquarelle coloured pencils had reignited my interest. Unfortunately, no coloured pencil art course was offered at local art schools.
However, there are some great art courses available online.
Craftsy.com (now myBluprint.com) has useful courses. I bought some coloured pencil drawing lessons from them and started to put them into practice.
ArtTutor.com also has some useful coloured pencil courses which I purchased and downloaded.
I already had a set of aquarelle coloured pencils, but the courses use other types of coloured pencils. I started my courses by purchasing the same pencils that the course’s instructors used.
A set of 75 wax Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils was promptly purchased.
3. Art courses
I bought several coloured pencil online classes and began to learn how to draw with them.
As well as doing the lessons, I searched the internet to find out who was drawing with coloured pencils and how I could draw too.
I found Lisa Clough at Lachri Fine Art (Lachri.com). Lisa has many videos on YouTube on how to draw with coloured pencils, and I watched almost all of them.
Nevertheless, as I progressed through the courses and videos, I found that there was a lot more to drawing with coloured pencils than having coloured pencils. You needed to have the right paper, and other tools.
When I first started learning about drawing with coloured pencils, I didn’t even know what a paper’s ‘tooth’ was. I had to ‘google’ that. In case you’re not aware, the rougher a paper’s surface the more ‘tooth’ it has. The smoother the surface, the less ‘tooth’ it has.
There are tools – such as ordourless mineral spirits, or Zest-it that you can use to melt the coloured pencils to increase a paper’s ‘tooth’. Coloured pencils work best on paper with less ‘tooth’.
Why is the ‘tooth’ of the paper important? Because coloured pencil paintings mean lots and lots of layers. There’s a lot to learn.
The artists in these courses also used oil based pencils.
There are wax-based and oil-based pencils. Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils are “wax-based”, but some coloured pencils are “oil-based”.
Of course, I had to have the biggest set of those and went out and bought a set of Faber Castell’s 120 oil-based Polychromos coloured pencils.
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As well as the art courses, I bought books about coloured pencils.
Janie Gildow’s and Barbara Newton’s “Colored Pencil Solution Book” and Janie’s “Colored Pencil Explorations” book about working with mixed media are great resources. As well as these, I bought Arlene Steinberg’s “Masterful Color”, and Alyona Nickelsen’s “Colored Pencil Painting Bible”.
I sat down and started to read the books and do their exercises.
I learnt there is a lot to coloured pencils drawing. The techniques differ, but mostly it is a time consuming and meditative practice.
The authors of these books used a wide range of coloured pencil brands, including Caran d’Ache, Prismacolor, Derwent, Faber Castell and more.
Of course, I had to have the same pencils as those great artists. So, I bought a set of the 150 Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils.
5. Artist sets vs student sets
It was explained in my lessons, books and videos that there is a difference between the artists sets and the students coloured pencil sets, and this relates to the amount of pigment that is used to make the pencil colour.
In addition, the binder used to form the pigment to a solid core is also a factor between a student grade and an artist grade pencil. I understand this is also the case for student versus artist quality in other art mediums as well.
The more pigment that is included in the pencil or paint – the more vibrant the colour. However, the biggest factor in the artist vs student quality art supplies is the price.
Pigments are expensive, and students have tight budgets. It seems student quality products meet a need. But which should I buy?
I wanted to be an artist, so I bought artist quality pencils. So far, so good.
6. Lightfast vs nonlightfast
One of the biggest issues that I found that was coming up against coloured pencils was that it is a medium that had not been accepted into the art world as a legitimate art field.
Why would it be that the coloured pencil is not considered a legitimate art genre?
Perhaps it relates to a coloured pencil’s lightfastness.
Depending on the pigment used, a coloured pencil could be lightfast or non-lightfast. Lightfastness refers to the rate at which a colour will fade in sunlight.
If a colour fades in light, the colour is non-lightfast. It is lightfast if it does not fade in light.
The colours that fade quickly in light are known as ‘fugitive’.
Not only this, there are two main methods to determine the lightfastness of a pencil. One is the blue-wool scale, and the other is the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D6901 standard.
Some manufacturers list the lightfastness of their pencils, and some don’t.
Some are measured by the D6901 standard, and some are measured by the blue-wool scale.
So which pencils should you buy?
I had read that coloured pencil sets had mixes of lightfast and non-lightfast pencils.
The sorting of the pencils was known to be a concern for coloured pencil artists and there was one set of lightfast coloured pencils that could be relied upon to be archival. These were the lightfast range Caran d’Ache Luminance wax based pencil.
I had to have one of those, so bought a set of 76.
7. Wax and oil based coloured pencils
Coloured pencils aren’t just coloured pencils. They aren’t just student pencil or artist pencils. They are lightfast and non-lightfast. Some are even fugitives.
They are also wax pencils or oil pencils.
There’s a lot of information online and in books about the difference between an oil and wax coloured pencil.
The main difference is the substances that are used with the pigment to make the pencil core.
But which one is better? I am learning that both have their uses.
Wax-based coloured pencil
The wax pencil is lovely to draw with, it is creamy and soft. However, it doesn’t keep a sharp point.
Oil-based coloured pencil
An oil pencil is also lovely to draw with, though it has a harder core, and is sharpened to a finer point.
The sharper point is useful for providing sharp edges to drawings, and while most oil based pencils provided a sharp edge, Prismacolor Verithins provided the sharpest edge with a very hard pencil core.
I was aware of the lightfast issue by now and I bought 17 lightfast oil-based Verithin coloured pencils from open stock.
8. Aquarelle Pencils (Water colour pencils)
The further along the coloured pencil learning journey I went, the more information I gained about the art of drawing with coloured pencils.
Drawing with aquarelle coloured pencils was quite a different craft than drawing with non-aquarelle pencils.
There were different techniques, and while they were an art form in themselves, they worked very well with non-aquarelle coloured pencils.
The more information I garnered about coloured pencils, the more I could understand their applications.
This is where I learned that my favourite Caran d’Ache Supracolor Soft coloured pencils came in a set of oil based non-aqarelle coloured pencils in EXACTLY the same colours.
I had to get one of those and promptly bought a full 120 set of the oil-based Caran d’Ache Pablo coloured pencils. They are just as lovely as the aquarelle version.
However, I bought Carole Massey’s “Water Soluble Pencil Essentials” coloured pencil course from Arttutor.com, which was the only course at the time that I could find that provided instruction on the use of the aquarelle pencils.
This course highlighted how lovely and like water colours these pencils could be.
Yes – I’m still learning, but once again – the old lightfast vs non-lightfastness became an issue.
An aquarelle pencil that has been diluted with water is less lightfast than a non-diluted pencil stroke.
Wait! Caran d’Ache has a line of lightfast aquarelle pencils?
Great! I bought myself some more pencils – 2 sets of 20 Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils.
They’re starting to add up to a lot of coloured pencils….
Oh wow! Oh wow! You’d think I would stop by now.
But then I found a podcast – the “Coloured Pencil Podcast” with John Middick of Sharpened Artist.com.
John provides great advice on the use and application of coloured pencil, and how to make a living out of coloured pencil art. He has interviews with successful coloured pencil artists and reviewed various brands of coloured pencils.
There was one brand of coloured pencil that was given a great review.
They were soft, and lightfast, and were from Derwent – they were Derwent Drawing pencils. I bought one set of 12 to see how they performed.
They were creamy and soft with great blendability and I liked them so much I bought another set of 24.
10. Pencil casing quality
As I used the coloured pencils, I noticed that the Prismacolor Premier pencils had great colour, and the cores of the pencil were creamy and vibrant.
However, the wood pencil casing around the core was inferior.
Sharpening the pencils was difficult, and on the first use of many pencils, I lost most of the pencil because of the soft core would break when sharpened. This happened way too often and was disappointing.
I had bought 225 of these things.
But alas – I found that Prismacolor had a product that was the core only in a stick form, and no wooden casing. These are the Prismacolor Art Stix.
I bought the full set of 48.
Please stop me…
11. Duplicate pencils
Along the way, I have found I use the blacks, greys and whites more regularly and have bought more – 15 or so by my counting.
That’s why I have 829 coloured pencils – including some of the original Caran d’Ache Prismalo II pencils from 1985.
What do you mean I only need 36 pencils?
So, I conducted my art and craft supplies audit, and found I have so many coloured pencils. But I know that while I have accumulated these pencils, I have kept learning about coloured pencil crafts and techniques.
I bought Susan Rubin’s “Colored Pencil Essentials” course online with Craftsy.com (now Bluprint.com).
In the course, Susan demonstrated that you could get nearly all the colours ever with a set of 36 coloured pencils, by mixing the pencil colours and recording the results in colour recipes.
I have 829 coloured pencils and I only need 36?
Oh well – perhaps I’ll call my coloured pencil collection an addiction now, but I know that when I do my next art and craft supplies audit or death clean, I’ll know that reducing to 36 coloured pencils won’t be the end of my coloured pencil passion.
I can still keep learning. Hmm… which 36 of the 829 coloured pencils will I keep? You can read how you can make 144 colours from the basic set of 12 Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. You can also see what makes up the basic set of 12 Prismacolor Premier coloured pencils.
The next big task of my art and craft passion is now to organise my coloured pencil stash.
Which are lightfast and which are non-lightfast?
How can I sort out the colours that are similar and which are the same?
Which coloured pencils should I use for a drawing to be digitised, and which should I use for archival purposes?
They are subjects which I explored in my post on 20 steps to organise your coloured pencils by type and lightfastness.
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