“To come away from an art store without buying anything is shameful”.

Have you ever been guilty? Once I spent 2 hours in the framing section of an art store and forgot to buy something before I left! How can you not visit an art store without making a purchase? This is very applicable when it comes to buying coloured pencils. I love, adore, admire and almost worship those colourful sticks of pigment wrapped in wood. Their range of colours is phenomenal, as is the way they are presented. They vary in set size, quality and price, but at the end of the day, they are all coloured pencils. Being a professional artist I favour the most lightfast pencils for obvious reasons. Over the past 30 years I have worked with 32 brands with each one offering their own qualities. I am an ambassador for Caran d’Ache in Australia as well as a tester for Derwent pencils. For the past 12 months I have been ‘road-testing’ the Procolour range from Derwent, through their development stage and now as they are being released world-wide. I am currently in the process of writing a review to coincide with the release of Procolour in Australia within the next 2 months.

I’ve been conducting Caran d’Ache workshops, the next being held in Hobart on Oct 14-15. This particular workshop is special in that it not for a drawing or painting group, but for the members of ‘Stitching and Beyond’, a group that work with various fabrics, yarns etc. We are going to use Luminance and Museum Acquarelle pencils on both paper and fabric as well as Neocolors, soluble and non-soluble. I’m really looking forward to this workshop!

I’m always interested in new coloured pencils even though I have over 3,000 in my collection. I know there are collectors of coloured pencils who have many more than I have, one has nearly 28,000! Pencils are lovely to look at, but even better to use and that’s what they were designed for.

After working with coloured pencils for over three decades I have (finally) worked out what pencils suit my way of working (the previous 4 words are very important when it comes to choosing the ‘right’ pencils). Everyone is different and you need choose wisely. Some pencils have thick barrels, some are very light, some very smooth, not all are round. I need strong pencils as I often push them hard on the pastel board that I most often use. I don’t need a super-fine point, but a pencil that won’t easily break. I want a broad colour range as I prefer laying the colours down side-by-side rather than mixing them. I rarely use a blender and never use solvents. I want my coloured pencil artwork to look like pencils not paint.¬†Because I use mainly coloured supports (surfaces), I find that not all the brands work as well as I would like. Certain colours often do, but not full sets.

My favourite (and most used) coloured pencils are (in order): Luminance, Prismacolor, Museum Acquarelle, Pablo, Polychromos, Coloursoft, Derwent Artists and Lyra. I haven’t finished testing Procolour at this stage.

One can never have too many coloured pencils!



About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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  1. rhodjoy says:

    Sometimes I’m amazed at the difference in pencil prices, Richard (it’s all relevant, I suppose) but some art shops are definitely more expensive than others. They shall remain nameless….I am really looking forward to reading your review on the new Derwent Procolours, and I think your workshop in Tassie in October will be fascinating! I would embroider you a beautifully crafted cup of coffee if I could, Richard (except I am not an embroiderer) but do knit and crochet, looking forward to more inspiring news, many thanks!

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks, Joy. I agree that there is inconsistency in pencil prices between art shops. They are doing themselves a great disservice and are slowly, but surely being sawamped by online stores.

  2. Janet says:

    Thank you! Nicely written! I haven quite a collection. Non artist people question my sanity. BUT every set has a certain quality that the others do not.
    Range of colors
    Wax based
    Oil based
    Water soluble
    Hard lead
    Soft lead
    Tinted graphite
    Availability of open stock
    My sanity is just fine!

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