Final Organization of Coloured Pencils

Well, there must be an finality to it because I spent too much money in the last two weeks. It will really be the final time I have more than $10 to spend on art supplies.

Curry’s, our art store chain here in Ontario, had an 8.5 x 11-inch Itoya Art Portfolio on sale for $5.99. All I had was one vinyl binder insert and since I have made so many colour charts in an effort to organize my various coloured pencils, I thought this portfolio would be much cheaper than trying to buy single sheets. It comes with 24 vinyl sheets, each with its own black insert of acid-free paper, so you can put an insert on each side of the black sheet, for 48 sheets all together. I will have oodles extra to store photo references for drawing too; it’s archival for inkjet prints.


I printed out some more colour charts, this time for Derwent Coloursoft pencils, Derwent Drawing pencils and Derwent Inktense pencils. Then I drew the actual colours on the chart and wet the Inktense swatches to get an accurate colour. Into the portfolio they went.


I bought a fancy Global Arts canvas pencil case in steel blue, complete with two zippers and a snap to secure each zipper when closed. It is supposed to hold 48 pencils, but because of the fatness of coloured pencils, I could only get 23 loose Faber-Castell Polychromos and 9 new Derwent Coloursoft in there with 4 spaces extra. The Derwent Inktense will have to stay in an old Prismacolor tin. The Derwent Drawing pencils were in a separate tin of 12, some as blocks, and they tend to be earthy colours and neutrals, so I added a few brighter colours to the palette in the Coloursoft pencils. I am fussy about having enough colours in a palette.

This is the advertisement shot of the pencil case, and the following picture is my particular case, set to go.




I also bought 3 Prismacolor pencils recommended in one of my books for botanical drawings. Then I drew those swatches on my two colour charts and inserted the pencils in the box in numerical order and that is done too.

Here is a photo of them all organized with their colour charts readily accessible in the portfolio. I figure if I can’t draw something and match colours after all this I must be dead.


I was a bit of a nut about organizing these. Oh gee can you tell? They have been in such a shemozzle for years, and some Derwent were put away and I forgot I had them, which is pretty silly after spending the money on them. Now it’s all ready for action.

I got my watercolours and watercolour pencils refitted last year so this was my final push. It was worth it, as I now feel I can put my hand on any colour I should need.

And dance on the head of a pin as well.



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8 Responses to Final Organization of Coloured Pencils

  1. Looks to me like you had loads of fun organising all your pencils, now you are all ready to go! I am going to do some additional colour swatches too, you have inspired me! Sue

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      Thanks Sue, it made such a difference to actually have all my pencils with colour swatches. I have several swatches in my small sketchbook but never thought to do the Prismacolors.

      Hey, I see you actually met Ann Swan–very neat. I love her book, it’s really inspiring.

      • Yes, I did, and she seems a very nice person. She comes twice a year to Dedham Hall to teach, and I am hoping to sign up for the Autumn class this year, as I am very new to coloured pencils and she is an expert. Also, a pencil artist called Janie Pirie lives nearby so I hope to take a couple of classes with her too – lucky me (just need to save up some pennies!).

        • JJ ColourArt says:

          Oh how wonderful to take a class from Ann. I liked Jane Pirie’s work too.

          Because of problems with my hands and tendinitis I rarely use coloured pencil totally, I usually have to mix it with watercolour washes, but I love the control and detailing I can get with coloured pencils.

  2. ironwing says:

    Now I’m inspired to get back to the sanded but otherwise unfinished wooden pencil box in my shop. I need to make an insert to hold the pencils in place.

    Yesterday I discovered that the Derwent Drawing Pencils, which are wax based, become even softer and more crayon-like on hot desert afternoons. I actually like drawing with crayons and got some interesting paint effects, but for fine details I should probably put the pencils in the fridge for an hour first!

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      You have to show me this box when it is done! I had an artist in town make me a walnut box similar to a sliding pencil box for one of my card decks. He did chip carving on it–it was lovely.

      Imagine your pencils melting! I don’t know whether to smile or grimace. We just got rid of our snow and were able to rake leaves yesterday.

  3. Having just spent my Easter break making a new pencil box to hold my new enlarged prismacolor range and the new Caran d’Arche pencils (these should arrive soon), I am so glad to come across someone else who spends this amount of time arranging their pencils and making colour charts. I now have room for 140 pencils in one box so very happy. Will be posting the finished product soon. Karen

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      Oh great to hear Karen. I can’t afford the Caran d’Ache pencils but they sound fabulous in posts at Wet Canvas.

      For years I just randomly chose colours and did colour swatches for each project, but it’s more helpful to have samples of the entire range in one place so you can flip through and say “This will work best.”

      I cannot believe how helpful these charts are. I will be keen to see your new box.

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