Posted tagged ‘coloured pencils’

Biographies and Art Technique Books

January 17, 2017

I bought 4 new books and 2 used books that looked interesting for biography art techniques.

1) How to Draw & Paint Animals: Learn to Draw with Colored Pencil Step by Step by Debra Kauffman Yaun – another excellent Walter Foster publication, and a large format with few pages like their older publications. Many good steps and tips in this without the usual interminable pages of supplies that many publishers use to pad out their books.


2) No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield – I rather like Gina’s exuberant, loose style which is accurate but so different from the precious approach to painting tedious art that looks like a photograph. Again, no 21 pages of supply discussion padding out the substance of the book.


3) Colored Pencil Cats & Dogs: Art & Instruction from 80 Colored Pencil Artists by Ann Kullberg – Each artist has a picture and a page of remarks and tips. I love this kind of book where you can get inspiration without copying a tutorial.


4) John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes – A recent biography recommended by several newspapers. The print is a bit small but I’m enjoying it as I knew nothing of his life.


These two I bought used on ABE so it will take a while to get them. I have read two other biographies by Mary S. Lovell, so was interested in the one that she did on the Churchill family. She doesn’t include everyone but some of the well-known Churchills and family history.

5) The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell – I bought an older edition paperback and it’s not as fancy as the newer and larger books with photos of the family on the cover. Winston Churchill wrote his own biography of his famous ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, but I wanted something lighter.


6) Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon – I wanted to re-read the biography of Dickinson My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger, but it was tedious to read I thought I’d try another approach and bought this for $1.


I joined a new book group for this year where you keep track of what you read each month (something I always forget to do), and they also read a book together each month. I recently got an app for our tablet for reading eBooks, and it wasn’t as hard on the eyes as I expected so I am enjoying reading the first two classic books.

Years ago I used to be on several book groups on Yahoo Groups, but they changed the format on Yahoo which made it more difficult to read and reply to messages, so I gave up and left them all. I miss talking to people about books though, and part of the fun is checking other people’s lists of books and finding new authors of fiction and new non-fiction reads on fascinating subjects.










More Adult Colouring Books

August 22, 2015

This is another time in my life I was ahead of the trend. I’ve had some Dover colouring books for years, just for the great line drawings to use as embroidery or miniature rug designs.

Anyway, during a stressful week, I took one out and started colouring a page with Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. This is from the Dover Paisley Designs Colouring Book; page eight to be exact. I have chronic tendonitis so have to wear a cuff when I draw and limit the amount I do, but this is coming along after three days.


I decided to buy three colouring books with nature, bird, and animal designs. Two of them contain mandalas which is a bonus.


I suppose many people might consider this a stupid pastime, and I do regular artwork that requires more thought and supplies, but sometimes you just want to dip in with colour without a lot of thought. I also find the rhythmic action of colouring meditative and soothing. Plus I can use Scarlet Red.

To each their own.



And the next day a lovely moth from the book Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta. LOVE the French Gray pencils in the Prismacolor set.


Slightly bleached out at the bottom by the flash but the best I could do.









Touch up Furniture Repairs with Coloured Pencils

March 28, 2015

We have an old maple washstand with towels bars at the side. I use it for magazines and my stereo and over the years the towel bar on the right has broken off twice.

This time when my husband repaired it, he used wood glue, wood filler, and a screw to repair it, leaving some lines and a filled hole in a cream colour. I have found that stain won’t colour this although sometimes if I mix a bit of stain into the filler beforehand, it will blend in.

For these repairs that have already been filled and dried, I decided to camouflage the lines and filled holes with coloured pencils. I used these four colours from Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils:

180 – Raw Umber
187 – Burnt Ochre
283 – Burnt Siena
177 – Walnut Brown

It did a pretty good job and you have to be close up to see the repair. In these pictures the camera flash made the hole look lighter, it’s more golden in reality and thus more camouflaged than this. I started with one colour and blended over, feathering the colour out and filling in repeatedly for the wood glue lines.


It’s certainly better than having a spot of cream-coloured filler winking at you from across the room. You can tell it has been repaired but it looks fairly normal.

After putting a non-yellowing satin urethane over the coloured repairs, I realized how badly the rest of the piece needed a coat of urethane. Another job for another day.



Final Organization of Coloured Pencils

April 19, 2014

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.



My Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils Arrive

April 16, 2014

Not that I was waiting for them or anything. I was dancing around singing about the Purolator man coming, and he finally came at Noon today.

The order was perfect with no mistakes in the open stock pencils I ordered. After checking the packing slip against my printed order and removing the barcodes, I spent 30 minutes taking the sticky residue off the extras I purchased using Goo Gone and then wiping the shafts with water and drying them. Somewhat tedious as some of them needed to be cleaned three times but they were sticking together so I had to.

Fortunately they all came sharpened as did the pencils in the set of 24. What a relief as I only have a tiny hand sharpener. Here they are ready to go on the colour chart.


I downloaded the chart designed by Lianne Williams in a PDF file (while you’re looking at Lianne’s blog check out her lovely artwork), and I appreciate that she’s put in the lightfastness ratings too. I entered a title and an explanation of the lightfastness ratings using the Typewriter function in Foxit Reader, my preferred PDF program, which unlike Adobe Reader offers some basic editing functions. Then I printed it on cardstock and sprayed it with Krylon. I don’t spray with a fixative after I lay the colours down as it can sometimes change the colours and I want an accurate record of what they actually look like.

All the colours I bought are great except for Violet and Purple Violet as they are almost the same. Although I do notice the lay down in the light shade is easier and covers more with the slightly lighter Violet so it won’t be a total waste of money. Still, had I known I would have bought another colour. The Dark Indigo and the Dark Sepia are gorgeous. I can see using those instead of graphite for monochromatic drawings.


So I am really pleased and looking forward to the four-day Easter weekend. My husband has a small sketchbook and set of student-grade watercolours at work that he’s going to bring home and we thought we could both sit at the card table and mess around.

I will be messing around with the two opening pages of my Chilean sketchbook (a pretend travel journal) finally. I was so sorry to hear of the forest fires that have destroyed part of the Chilean city of Valparaiso during the week. As well as the loss of life, about 2500 families are homeless. There are so many museums and historic homes and architecture in that city. It is quite special, so I hope they can recover from the death and destruction.

The second page of this journal is devoted to an opening sweep of Santiago architecture with some poetry by Pablo Neruda, I am hoping to draw a male Jewel Lizard (Liolaemus tenuis) which is pretty neat. Wikipedia says “Other names are slender lizard and thin lizard. It is endemic to Chile.” I also see it referred to as the Thin Tree Lizard and there are a couple of species—always confusing.


He really does look like a jewel. My picture of him will be small as he will be roving over titling, but what better movement for a lizard to do? Show off.



More Fiddling with Prismacolor Coloured Pencil Charts

April 15, 2014

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

April 13, 2014

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.