Coloured Pencils

I got a set of 90 Derwent (by far the best) pastel pencils through Art Supply Warehouse Catalog for $95.00. Before you buy them though, make sure you can get replacments easily. I haven't found anywhere that sells open stock around where I live, or a catalog either. I have to special order them, minimum of twelve, from my art supply store, and they take at least two weeks, with a box of twelve costing me about twenty dollars. They have the creamiest texture and richest color of any of the brands, and they also come like real pastels, with a light, medium and dark of all the hues. Gorgeous!


Lisa... I bought a whole set of Rembrandt LYRA Polycolor pencils... set of 72. Two of the Splender blender pencils came with the set. I seem to recall that the store I went to (AZ Art Supply) had them and most of the colored pencils available separately as well.

I checked the Dick Blick main catalog and sale catalog and Cheap Joes catalog just now and didn't see the Splender blender in any of them. In fact, I didn't even see the Rembrandt Polycolor pencils available at all so am wondering if they are a relatively new product (I don't get to the art store much that's why it was such a "treat" when I went last week and found so many wonderful goodies to play around with!) But I LOVE these new colored pencils... almost cream like in the way they go on the paper! Sort of a cross between (to me) a regular colored pencil and pastel pencil.

Let me know if you find the blender available in any other catalogs.


I use alot of colored pencil to "finish" my stuff... but If I use too much, I get a waxy build up that I can't work with. My solution is to slap a layer of matt medium over the whole thing, and keep on going. The matt medium has a nice tooth to it. After I've done that though, the colored pencil picks up the brush texture from the matt medium... that works fine when most of the painting was done with acrylics to begin with, but how do you deal with that colored pencil waxy build up, when you're working strictly in pencil?

I actually USE the waxy buildup to my advantage. That is I draw with that in mind. It affects the order I lay down my many colored scribbles . . . Some of my drawings are very, very thick with colored pencil. I use a light fix at times when it seems necessary. Using turpenoid and a stiff brush to move the pencils to a washy look also tends to bind the media for added build up. Or maybe it is my imagination . . .

Seriously, there are a couple of possibilities for when the build up of colored pencil makes it impossible to do any more layering:

1) Go over some of the built-up areas with a solvent (rubber cement thinner, turpenoid, etc.) to dissolve the wax binder and spread the color into the support. This is a whole other art in itself, and some experimentation on practice sheets is recommended before you try this on a "live" work.

2) Spray with a workable fixative. This will give the surface a bit more tooth for working more pencil on top.

3) Switch to a softer pencil. If you're using hard colored pencils (eg, ColErase, Verithin), switch to a softer one like Prismacolor. If you're already using Prismacolor, try using the Caran D'Ache Neocolor II crayons ... they're wonderful, and go on beautifully over colored pencil.

4) If you're working on paper (as opposed to board), try putting some rough surface underneath the paper and then working the pencil on top. This technique, called frottage, can lead to all kinds of textural effects, depending on what you use underneath: sandpaper, corrugated cardboard, slate, wood, etc.

5) Wrap a piece of very fine sandpaper around a sponge or something soft, and dab the picture with it. This can give a little texture to the waxy surface. Be careful not to scratch the surface, though ... don't wipe, just dab. And brush/blow off the loose sandpaper particles before resuming work.

6) Pick up some of the waxy surface by burnishing a piece of self-adhesive frisket onto the top of the waxy areas, and then lifting off some of the pencil. In a pinch, I think even drafting tape or plain old Scotch tape will do the trick.

7) Experiment with burnishing other materials (linen, vellum) on top of the waxy areas to give texture. I'm not making any promises here, but it's worth a shot.

That's all I can think of offhand.

- -pd

Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 11:07:09 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
Subject: illustration: Prismacolor pencils

I know that 5 Prismacolor colors were introduced (or re-introduced) last year. However, I noticed that they're still selling 120 pencil sets. So did they drop 5 other colors, or simply not include all the colors in the set? Does anyone know how big their line actually is? Are there other colors that are available only open stock and not in sets? Do people keep track of when colors are added/dropped? I would think that's pretty useful information.


- -pd

As far as I can tell, Peter, no colors were dropped from the line when Sanford re-introduced some old favorites to the Prismacolor choices. I have one of their retail display cases in which I keep my pencil inventory -- and I had to use some unused slots for the re-adds.

I don't use the metallics or neon colors, though, so I don't know if those remain the same. And I buy only from open stock . . . The CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) generally keeps pretty good tabs on various colored pencil products -- especially in their newsletter.


they did reintroduce 5 old colors : 915 lemon yellow, 920 light green, 936 slate gray, 988 marine green, & 997 beige. Ironically (to me anyways) they DID NOT bring back #940 sand

Now, about art stix: I've used them quite a bit. They are made of the same material in the Prismacolor pencils and are exact color matches. The only thing missing is the wood. The combination of art stix and solvent sure speeds up the application of colored pencil, and you can get some interesting textures that are impossible to get any other way.

As for the mechanics, I suggest grinding a stick against a medium-grit piece of sandpaper to "powder" the stick. I then use the powdered area like a blob of paint on a palette. You can add a small amount of turpenoid to this spot to make a "paint" (I use a brush for this technique) that can be applied directly to your surface. Add the turpenoid to it with a toothbrush or stiff paintbrush, and you can splatter the pigment onto the surface. Or apply pencils or stix directly to the surface (dry application) and blend the color with a Q-tip or a disposable cotton make-up pad (using a little bit of solvent). This is a great way to work up a background (like a sky) or to achieve a smooth underpainting. Working back in with dry applications is an interesting possibility, once your wet layer dries. Just keep in mind that the best ratio would be a SMALL amount of solvent to a MEDIUM to HEAVY application of pigment. You could also dip your pencil point or stick into turpenoid to work "wet-on-dry", if you'd like.


Back to the Library directory.