9 reasons to love coloured pencils

 
 

Oh coloured pencils... how do I love thee?... let me count the ways!

I may not be a poet, but a list maker? For sure. And I count 9 reasons to love coloured pencils.... thusly...

  1. They return you to childhood.  Nothing feels more delightfully child-like than clutching a coloured pencil. Picasso told us that all children are artists. What easier way is there to channel your inner child?
  2. They are unassuming, low maintenance art supplies. Not messy like pastels, no brush clean up required, no waiting for paint to dry, not intimidating like oil paint, they are the friendliest tool in your kit.
  3. The way they feel. Is there anything better than the waxy glide of coloured pencil over paper leaving a rainbow in its wake?
  4. The range of colours. So many delightful colours to choose from, and infinite more nuanced variations appear when you blend them effortlessly together.
  5. Effortless blending. Oh, did I not mention the blending already?  On their own, because they are good natured enough to work together to give depth, volume and life.  And with a colourless blender pencil or some sort of solvent they dissolve into a seamless paint-like sheen.
  6. No smudging. Being a member of the anti-graphite pencil club I can't not talk about the fact that they won't smoosh all over the opposite page when the book is closed or move if you rub your finger over them. So both friendly and obedient, they are.
  7. Control.  I love tiny details. Sadly, I am a teeny bit clumsy, I fear. Tiny pupils and eyelashes and other fine details are quite beyond me with something like a paintbrush. In fact, I should probably just throw away my rigger brush. Pencils enable me. Hurrah.
  8. Transportable. What could be easier than throwing a couple of coloured pencils in a cute pencil case? Add a sharpener and all you need is a bit of paper.
  9. They play so nicely with other art supplies. Now, this is why I bring this up particularly today. I took out my coloured pencils and used them to add the final finishing touches. Coloured pencils work so well on top of watercolour and matte acrylic paint and over gesso.

I adore my coloured pencils (you might have guessed). And Prismacolours are my favourite brand. But we had better not be biased. There are some downsides. I count two.

  1. Breakage.  They do break quite easily when sharpening. You can try to improve this by baking them. No, really... I haven't completely taken leave of my senses. This melts the wax inside the pencil so that when it hardens again on cooling all the breaks inside the barrel fuse back together. I havent got around to testing this out yet for myself - will let you know when I do!
  2. Time consuming on a large scale. If you are doing a large picture it can take a quite a long time to build up the colour to the desired intensity.  However this is easily rectified by point number 9 in the above list. Start with a wash of colour provided by watercolour or acrylic paint, then bring out the coloured pencils.

That's what I did today. I started with my ink drawing... and I liked it... yay! An improvement on yesterday....

Flower face No 4 WIP ink drawing
Flower face No 4 WIP ink drawing

Then I added watercolour...

Flower face no 4 WIP watercolour stage
Flower face no 4 WIP watercolour stage

And then I got out my coloured pencils to improve the shading and details. And yes. I do keep them in colour bundles with a coordinated colour hair elastic. Please don't judge me...

Flower face no 4 WIP coloured pencil
Flower face no 4 WIP coloured pencil

Final nerd tidbit... apparently both colour pencils and coloured pencils are acceptable names but coloured pencil came first. So I must be a purist. Or just old fashioned. (And since you read this all the way to the end (by the way, thank you) I can only assume that you would be interested in this sort of coloured pencil trivia...)

So tell me.... how much do you love your coloured pencils?

Explore more of the Flower Faces Series