More Fiddling with Prismacolor Coloured Pencil Charts

Posted April 15, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

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Today’s imperative was to get lightfastness charts and do up actual colour sample of the Prismacolor Verithin pencils in my set of 36.

My Verithins were in the usual mess, and while there wasn’t a blank chart available for them I printed out the Verithin colour chart with lightfastness ratings and then drew samples of each colour on there. Before I printed it I took out all the fancy borders and titling in Photoshop.

So now the Verithin pencils are all in order and I have a good reference chart.


There is no lightfastness chart for every Prismacolor pencil, so I made do with the one they had. Unfortunately I forgot to take out all the black and colouring and I wasted some ink printing this. Great design, but it’s not too practical for printing.

Here are the two lightfastness charts together.


I love Verithins, they never seem to wear down much and they are great for detailing, making edges crisp and such.



Organization of Prismacolor Coloured Pencils

Posted April 13, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

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This is a great blank chart for 150 Prismacolor coloured pencils by Lauren Nash at Transient Art:

This has a slightly different set-up and is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The woman who designed it is Carole Parsons, and I liked the simplicity of this one and the extra space left for colours I have that are not on the chart. Because it’s in a different order than the first one, I found it useful for grouping colour families, and also the rectangular spaces suit a colour gradation treatment to show more variation in each colour. I used light, medium, and heavy pressure to indicate shading.

I originally bought the full (at the time) set of 120 Prismacolors back around 1994 with money from my Mom’s estate. It was one of the most expensive things I had bought myself for years at about $150 CAD. They seem to be less expensive today, but back then they were the first professional grade art supplies I purchased.

It took me years to sharpen them all by hand, but I started using them in earnest after 2005 when I lost my job. Every project got me a bit further in colour familiarity and layering. I am trying to get these reorganized so I know if I have any colour gaps. Ann Swan’s book Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils uses Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils but she also uses a select few colours that can only be found in the Prismacolor colour range so I needed to see exactly what I had.

These are the ones she recommends in the Prismacolor range. I was surprised she said White, but I guess it’s slightly different to other whites. The ones with the bold asterisks are the ones I’m missing and will purchase.

938 White
*1084 Ginger Root
1032 Pumpkin Orange
922 Poppy Red
923 Scarlet Lake
924 Crimson Red
925 Crimson Lake
994 Process Red
*1095 Black Raspberry
1078 Black Cherry
996 Black Grape
931 Dark Purple
1009 Dahlia Purple
1005 Limepeel
*1089 Pale Sage

When I pulled out my trays they were all mixed up, some were badly broken, and I seemed to have some extra ones. Prismacolors are notorious for being off-centre so that when you try to sharpen them they just get chewed up. They also tend to crumble and break at the tips because of their softness. I like to nurse mine along with hand sharpeners, so I might not have the stiletto-like tips that some artists use, but they are pointy and sharp. I don’t have an electric sharpener so I need to replace some of the hand sharpeners with ones with new blades.


I printed off the two colour charts and filled them in concurrently, organizing the pencils in the trays according to the round colour chart which is numerical, as I went. It took me 4.5 hours and I ached all over. Whew, it was worth it.


Here they are at the end of my reorganization, with colours I have that are missing from the charts added at the bottom. I am missing three recommended colours for botanicals, and one recommended colour I do have, Pumpkin Orange, has never sharpened properly so I’d like to replace it. I own six colours that were discontinued, four of them are useful. I put all Neon colours and Black away as I don’t use them, which leaves me with eight spaces in the trays to put newer colours I don’t have but would find useful. I have listed all the colours I don’t have and put an asterisk beside those I definitely need. The rest I will choose in the store, according to their usefulness.


I don’t want to duplicate anything I’m getting in the Polychromos line so I’ll leave it for a bit.

Back in the box with a shot of the Excel sheet filled in with gradations. These charts are just so handy, I wonder why I never did this years ago? Oooh, pretty, pretty.


Pretty nice, pretty lucky to have such a selection, pretty much fun on a Sunday.



The Land of Pre-Retirement Art Supplies

Posted April 9, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

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Upon realizing that our income will be substantially less upon retirement in the summer, I thought I’d better get the Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils that have been on my wish list. I’ve been stocking up on odd things for about two years, knowing that the time would come when I can’t afford more than an inexpensive top-up of favourite colours or paper.

So I downloaded and printed the full colour chart, and then printed out which colours come in the 24, 36, and 60-pencil sets. Most of the pencils included in sets are extraneous bumph, I know this from once buying the full set of Prismacolor coloured pencils, and the Polychromos are similar in that regard, but more expensive, so it all needed to be sorted through carefully.

Then I wrote out the recommended Polychromos pencil colours from two hardcover books I own on botanical painting with coloured pencils. Then I made lists of what I needed if I bought each set, realizing the the 36 and 60 sets were well above my means and had too many odd colours I didn’t want. That left the set of 24, which contained several of my required base colours, plus a few colours I would use for things other than botanicals, like lizards for instance.


Finally, after that, I correlated it all using symbols and colours on the colour chart to make a decision. Then I honed and razored the list down to 23 extra pencils, leaving me with a purchase of 47 pencils. This took me several hours, and several hours to let it sit so I could think about it, and then some double-checking and fiddling with taking more things off the list.


Got that? Ha-ha, I used to do accounting, it’s all in the details and correlations!

Hopefully they won’t mess up the colours when picking my order at the warehouse. While gulping at the price, I feel confident that I made the right decision in getting these at a time when I could just squeak by to afford them with a strict budget and colour restraint. I am looking forward to trying them out.

I’ve got all kinds of paper, several different kinds and brands of graphite pencils, coloured pencils, bottled ink and dip pens and nibs, a few Micron markers, watercolours and watercolour pencils, Conté pencils, soft pastels, gouache, white and black gesso, a paper cutter, bookbinding threads and supplies, several sketchbooks, many art technique books, some storage, and templates and handmade journals, and lots of different brushes. Absolutely everything I ever wanted 20 years ago in the realm of wished-for art supplies.

Have heart if you’re just starting out, it takes a while to pinpoint what you want, and save for it and procure it. It literally took me 20 years from the time I first bought a set of coloured pencils to chip away and buy this and that. In the last year I spent more simply because I knew it was my last opportunity to buy anything.

Such bounty, such richness, it’s a great feeling for the days ahead.



The First of Two Summer Nighties

Posted April 3, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Sewing

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I love this pattern because it is so uncomplicated to cut out and sew. This view was even easier than the long-sleeved version that I previously made two winter nighties from. My new tracing paper came in handy and I was able to trace the pattern off and not worry about cutting into the original pattern.

Kwik Sew 3106, View C, without the lace trim. I added 1/2-inch to the length of the sleeve hems and the bottom hem to allow a bit more fabric for sewing the hems the regular way. My regular way being to press them under 1/4-inch and then turn up 1/2-inch for the sleeves and 1-inch for the bottom hem.


I think I will probably adjust the pattern to add two inches to the length when I do the second one. I’d add more but the remaining fabric I have is only 3 yards (not meters as we use in Canada) so there won’t be enough for more. I bought the fabric from Connecting Threads.

Easy to sew and I finished the seams with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying as these seams are only 1/4-inch and the seam finish keeps them from falling apart. You don’t press the seams open, they get pressed to one side, so a seam finish keeps them together and nice and flat when you do the hems.

This pattern is way, way over-sized. I made the large size before and it was huge, so this time I dropped down to a size small which seems comparable to size 14 or 16, so not exactly small, I would consider that a medium. This size is not too baggy and muumuu-like, but not too tight; just right for summer.

It’s so nice to complete something successfully.



Saila’s New Bubble Gum 40′s Dress

Posted March 30, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Dolls

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I bought this pattern in February 2013 and never got around to sewing it. In March of this year I asked another woman if she’d like to do a sew-along for this pattern and she agreed so we’ve been doing that all month.


She made a complete dress the first time and we were devastated to find that the yoke was too wide. It buckled and showed the doll’s cloth body under the neck and didn’t seem to work up at all like the picture on the pattern cover. She tried it on her American Girl doll and the fit was iffy on that doll too.

So I thought about it for a few days, and then redrew the yoke a few times in order to sew a “muslin” out of scraps to put on my Maplelea doll Saila to adjust the fit.


The first adjustment (above) was still buckling a bit and the body was showing.


The second adjustment was much better so I went with that and tried a fitting with the entire bodice put together after shaving off a bit on the centre front of the main bodice just to ensure that no buckling of the yoke would occur.


This seemed fine although the front yoke is slightly deeper. I didn’t want to get into trying to redraw the whole pattern. Everything after this point was fine and I did no adjustment on the waistbands. For the skirt I added a bit in length so I could turn a deeper hem and hand sew it as I don’t like the look of machine sewn hems and I wanted some extra weight on the hem.

At this point I developed benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and had to stop everything for over a week as I couldn’t keep my balance and my eyes kept going kerflooey. Lucky me!

I bought two sewing patterns from an Etsy seller in the interim, and took a chance and asked her if she had any 1/4-inch red buttons for this outfit I was making. I can’t buy this sort of thing in Canada and I was already spending money on a money order for the patterns so didn’t want to try ordering from somewhere else with yet another money order. She had them and sent them along! People are so nice.

And here is Saila looking very summery with her Criss Cross sandals that I bought from Maplelea.


This was a frustrating project because of the ill-fitting pattern but it turned out well in the end and I derived some satisfaction from forging on and making the pattern fit better. I might make another one after doing some sewing for myself.



Better Than a New Car or Diamonds

Posted March 15, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Dolls

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Oooooh, I just got a prezzie from the spouse that is more precious than diamond necklaces or new cars or anything fancy. It’s a whole 36-inch x 20 yard roll of tracing paper. Plus a Monster High doll called Operetta. The double whammy of joy. Total cost about $29.


Remember men, sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the most impact and meaning to women.

Operetta needs to get busy and sand and urethane our pine floors. In the meantime she’s relaxing with the other gals Page and Skelita. (Click to enlarge)


Another Two Nighties and Two Smocking Patterns

Posted March 6, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Sewing

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Three years ago in March I made myself two long nighties out of flannelette from the Kwik Sew 3106 pattern. I made a large size and it was really big so this time I’ll sew up a medium. The Kwik Sew patterns generally run large.

I am still wearing these though and they have held up really well.


In my ignorance, not having sewn any clothes for years, I mistakenly cut the pattern rather than tracing it, and thus destroyed the multiple sizes in the packet. I then discarded the View C pattern pieces entirely since I wasn’t going to sew it. I have since learned that you are supposed to trace the patterns and keep the original, plus I actually do want to sew View C.

I like this pattern because it’s easy and wearable, so I waited and waited and finally there was a half price sale and I bought a new copy of it from Kwik Sew. I desperately need some summer nighties and the short version in View C is perfect. I suppose they are somewhat old-fashioned but this is the style I like. They look a bit fresher in modern fabrics and colours.


Then I hunted up some clearance fabric online at Connecting Threads. The blue fabric was $3.56 a yard and the striped fabric was $2.96 a yard, even better. “Cheap and cheerful” as the saying goes.


I can never find nighties I like in the stores, they are usually too short and then shrink in the wash, and are often made from uncomfortable synthetics. I prefer cotton nighties so I am very pleased that I’ll be able to sew some cotton ones up for summer that won’t cost me a lot.

I’ll keep my eye out for further bargains in fabric and maybe sew up a third one.

Big plans, always big plans, big ideas.

While I was at it I decided to finally order two patterns for 18-inch doll dresses that can be made smocked or plain. I have always wanted to learn to smock, and had thought to do myself up a nightie with a smocked insert but I don’t think I’m quite up to the challenge on an adult smocking project.

In a doll-sized outfit I think it would be manageable, so I bought two patterns from Judith Marquis: The Classic Yoke Dress, which reminds me of Princess Anne and all the baby boomers in the fifties. My older sister has a picture of herself wearing a dress smocked by my Mom which I think might be similar to these.


The second pattern is Dolly Breeze which can be a sleeveless dress or pinafore and comes with an alternate harlequin-pointed skirt. You can also do flat heirloom sewing on the bodice or embroidery, it seems very versatile.

Good things ahead. I like to have plans, it makes for a cheerier outlook in life.


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