Why Coloured Pencils?

November 5, 2018

I started drawing at a young age and always enjoyed it, mostly just graphite pencils and occasional attempts at paint. I tried my hand at ballpoint pen art too but generally speaking it was black and white. 


When it came time to add colour I figured I would need to turn to paint. The thing is a paintbrush is a very different tool to a pencil! It takes a completely different mindset and group of skills/ techniques to master and I struggle/d to get the same level of detail that I love into any painting I attempted.


I then discovered water colour pencils and thought this was a good compromise, I could still get some washed of colour but also be able to use them dry to get some finer detail. I fell in love with my Derwent Inktense pencils for a while too. 


 Like many artists I craved learning more and I started to follow lots of amazing artists on Instagram like Bonny Snowden, Jess Fletcher and Jessica Lennox (I'm on there as @sophielouisecreates) and I began to discover coloured pencils! I had tried it in the past with Prisma colors but I didn't get on well with them. After a couple of practice pieces I started to like things and when Amazon had a sale I bought a 36 set of Faber Castell Polychromos and I have not looked back!! 


I devoured youtube tutorials, I followed many more coloured pencil artists, I joined support/help groups on Facebook and I have learnt so, so much from these wonderful people. Including what papers to try (I've tried a lot!!), techniques to use and some general support and encouragement from them. (My favourite Facebook group for this is Coloured Pencil Tips and Resources, they are a lovely supportive bunch!) I have practiced a lot and learnt a lot and improved a lot. I love the layering and detail I can get with my pencils. 


What I have also learnt is that coloured pencil is slowly getting a better reputation in the art world. Many people saw it as amateur or think of colouring in as a child but when these pencils cost a couple of quid each I don't let my kids near them! Companies like Faber Castell and Caran D'ache have worked hard to create highly pigmented lightfast coloured pencils- this means that unlike normal coloured pencils, any artwork created using them will have a much much longer life (up to 100 years) without fading- and they layer and blend completely differently to everyday coloured pencils.


There are other factors that help this too like using acid free, archival paper. Avoiding touching the paper while working also helps and when displaying mounting properly with a backing and a card picture mount so that the piece doesn't touch the glass. Museum glass that filters UV rays will prolong the life of the piece further as will displaying away from direct light. 


I have learnt lots and whilst I still love a good session of Graphite drawing I will be forever greatful for discovering coloured pencils for all that it has taught me and all I am yet to learn. 




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