Frequently, people ask me what medium I use and assume my paintings are done with just that, oil or acrylic paint. However, I have worked exclusively with colored pencils and pastels/pastel pencils since the start of my art journey. While I drew in high school, I put off my interest in art for many years until recently (the past few years) when I decided to dive in again and give it a try. At the time, I was just drawing for me/the sake of drawing, but I soon got strong reactions from my family and friends about my finished pieces and even offers to purchase what I had drawn, so I started to think about art more seriously.
Since the beginning, the majority of my work has been with colored pencils. These are not the colored pencils you may remember using as a child with your color-by-number sets. These are professional-grade pencils that are made for artists. Some are waxed based and some are acrylic based — basically paint in a pencil.
With colored pencil, you can achieve a painterly affect or your drawing can also be very detailed with colored pencils, in essence, you can create a hyper-realistic/photo quality (if you are talented enough, and I’m still working on that). You apply many layers of color to achieve these effects, sometimes 8-10 or more layers of color within a single piece. These layers can then be blended together. Colored pencil artists use a variety of means. Some blend with the colored pencils themselves, others use a blender pencil created specifically for this purpose, others use a blending solvent; I prefer Gamsol — an odorless mineral spirit (or commonly known as OMS). I use pastels or Pan Pastels for backgrounds when I am going for a blurry or “Bokeh” effect.
My art pieces are always finished off with several layers of spray fixative. I prefer the one sold by Brush & Pencil or another by Krylon, but there are many fixatives on the market to preserve your artwork. Some of my friends even use varnish to finish their pieces. I haven’t dived into using paints for several reasons: I love colored pencil, they travel well and aren’t messy, but with paints — they are messy, you have to wait for them to dry before you can do more work on a piece, and, knowing me, I’d spend a fortune on supplies if I tried them and liked them, and my current artwork requires its own art supplies, and I’m perfectly happy working in colored pencils — in fact I love them.
Currently, I use many, many different brands of colored pencils, but there seems to be a number of “go to” pencils that I reach for the most: Faber Castell Polychromos, Caran D’Ache Luminance, Prismacolors, and Derwent Lightfast, Inktense, and Coloursoft pencils, among others. Next, I will be writing about some of my favorite “gadgets” to use with colored pencils. Stay tuned!