CJAS: Colored pencils are becoming very popular—what’s up with that.
KK: Very much so. They have been around since about the 1840’s but have been increasing in popularity since the late 80’s and early 90’s. They are coming into their own as a fine art medium. Not to mention the popularity of adult coloring books.
CJAS: As a beginner what would I look for when purchasing colored pencils?
KK: From a fine art perspective, the first thing you would look for are colors that suit you. If you like muted tones you might want to buy individual colors from open stock or if you want a wider selection of colors you might want to look for sets that have those colors. Some collections might focus on earth tones while others may have more skin tones or highlight reds or greens.
I usually look for a well-made pencil. I tell my students that it is much better to spend the same amount of money on a beginner set of 12 quality pencils than to buy a set of 90 pencils that are scratchy and not centered and don’t deliver the pigment. The proof is in the pigment (quality of color) and how it looks on the paper.
CJAS: What are some of the brands that you would recommend?
KK: From the United States there is Sanford’s Prisma Color; from Germany there is Faber-Castell & LYRA; from England, Derwent; from Switzerland there is caran d’ache & Tombow from Japan to name a few of the artist quality colored pencils that are currently available.
CJAS: So I am online or in the store and I am looking for a good quality pencil with colors that I like. Do I need to look for a special sharpener as well?
KK: When I am home in my studio I use a X-Acto School Pro Electric Pencil Sharpener that has several different settings and when I am on the road I use a Faber-Castell Grip Trio colored pencil sharpener.
CJAS: Is there a difference between a regular pencil sharpener and one for a “colored” pencil.
KK: The difference would be that a regular pencil sharpener makes a longer point as compared to one that sharpens to a shorter point. It is really just a matter of personal preference.
CJAS: I like the Grip Trio as well as the Dahle 155 Professional Pencil sharpener that gives me adjustments for almost any angle I want. The shorter the angle the longer the pencil lasts.
KK: As in all things the better the pencil the easier it will be to color with and create great art.
CJAS: If we are not using colored pencils for Adult Coloring books, is there a particular paper that is better for this medium?
KK: I learned with basic white Bristol board paper that has a Vellum finish. It is smooth and takes color evenly. I really like Stonehenge paper as well; it is a really popular paper for colored pencil art. I also like to use hot-pressed watercolor paper.
CJAS: We’ve got the pencils, the paper and the sharpener; do we need an eraser as well.
KK: I would say at the very least have a white vinyl eraser since it does a really good job of picking up the color.
CJAS: Thanks for chatting with us today. I know your students have enjoyed their week with you in the studio here at Cheap Joe’s and we look forward to your next visit.
KK: My pleasure and happy colored penciling.