Colored Pencil Art Painting Is a New and Respected Art Medium

Colored Pencil Painting I did before I read the book on how to do a Colored Pencil Painting.
Colored Pencil Painting I did before I read the book on how to do a Colored Pencil Painting. | Source

Colored Pencils used to be called Crayon Pencils

Have you ever seen a painting done with professional-grade colored pencils (formerly known as pencil crayons) which looks so real it rivals anything you have ever seen in oils, acrylics or watercolor paints? Today’s advances in fine art products have made this possible.

This is one of many colored pencil exercises to do in the Colored Pencil Painting Bible by Alyona Nickelson.
This is one of many colored pencil exercises to do in the Colored Pencil Painting Bible by Alyona Nickelson.

Kinds, Qualities and Brands of Professional-Grade Color Pencils

When I went to high school (decades ago) the pencil crayons were made mostly of ‘filler’. Now there are high-quality, pure color products available. They can be purchased in the following forms:

  • Wax based
  • Oil based
  • Pastel
  • Water soluble

There are many companies producing high-grade pencil crayons. Here is a list of some of them.

  • Prismacolor Artstix, woodless version, (wax-based)
  • Prismacolor Lightfast (wax-based) Developed in compliance with national standards for colored pencil lightfastnes.
  • Prismacolor Verithin, hard version of wax-based Prismacolor Premier
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos (oil-based)
  • Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor (oil-based)
  • Derwent Artists (wax-based)
  • Derwent Coloursoft (wax-based)
  • Caran d'Ache Luminance (wax-based) Developed in compliance with national standards for colored pencil lightfastnes.
  • Talents Van Gogh (wax-based)

Packages of these color pencils range from $42 to $200 depending on the number of pencils in each set. Some companies' pencils come in a package or tin box of 32 color pencils or 48 color pencils. Other sets contain 72, 120 or 132 pencils.

Due to the pureness of the pigment, an artist can create their secondary, tertiary and complimentary colors by fusing or layering. Therefore, it isn't necessary to purchase the biggest or most expensive box of color pencils -- but like a quilt-maker with her hoards of fabric -- it sure is fun to have them.

Planning a Colored Pencil Painting

The weight and type of art paper needs to be chosen dependent on the base (oil, wax, pastel or watercolor) of pencil. For example, the wax based and oil based pencils require a strong weight of art paper. Healthily weighted paper can stand up to 20 layers of good quality pencil color without chaffing.


Texture of paper, sometimes referred to as 'tooth' of paper, is another important consideration when planning a painting.

Pencil crayon drawing
Pencil crayon drawing

The Colored Pencil Society of America

In the last couple of decades, artistic pioneers have paved the way in this new and dynamic art field without whom the advances in colored pencil quality would do us very little good. Tenacity, passion and skillful labor among many pioneers have been brought together and shared in a new organization. It is the Colored Pencil Society of America. (CPSA) The founder of this society is Vera Curnow.

Below is a link to the website of the Colored Pencil Society of America. If you click on the GALLERY tab and then on any one of the AWARDS tabs on the left of the list, you will be in for a treat. You will see the artistic realism which some dedicated pencil crayon artists are attaining.

I re-did the colored pencil drawing a little after reading the book, The Colored Pencil Painting Bible.  I'm not sure I like this version better.
I re-did the colored pencil drawing a little after reading the book, The Colored Pencil Painting Bible. I'm not sure I like this version better.

Did you Look at some of the Artists' Paintings?

You will notice if you pressed on the Gallery tab at the above link and then pressed on International Awards, there is a long list of award winners. If you did take the time to press on any one of the Award tabs down the left of the page, you have seen some of the spectacular, realistic, juried colored pencil paintings being done by dedicated artists.

This art form is becoming very popular in many countries in the world. Below are links to other countries’ national pencil crayon associations.

I am enjoying a book written and illustrated by colored pencil artist and premiere member of the CPSA, Alyona Nickelsen. The book is titled Colored Pencil Painting Bible, Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects.

Prismacolor pencils -- the Prismacolor Lightfast and Prismacolor Premier are my pencil crayons of choice.

The Colored Pencil Painting Bible is a comprehensive guide for the beginner and the professional artist.

The book teaches a chapter on Fundamentals of Light. Color theory, rendering shadows, fusing colors, layering colors and using white effectively are subjects and titles of other chapters.

There is so much I am learning from this valuable book. There was an $835 university course on Color Theory I was about to take as a distance-learner. I looked over the Table of Contents in the online course and compared it to the book I now have in hand. Everything I need is in this book as long as I put the same amount of work into the exercises in each chapter that I would put into a distance-learning course.

Kudos to the Pioneers in this Art Medium

Well, not quite everything. Passion, diligence and persistence have to come from within me or nothing in this book can help me become a better artist. But then, that can also be said when one begins a university course, too. For me, motivation comes from all the beauty around me.

Sheri Doty, Fine Art and Illustration Artist and a member of CPSA, said, “Thirty years of study and experience in this field has taught me that talent isn’t the reason for success in any endeavor. The keys to success are desire, perseverance and determination."

You can look at Sheri Doty's website and hundreds of other colored pencil artists' websites at the CPSA site by clicking on Members' Websites on the left column of the page. Many of these artists are portrait artists. You will see why colored pencil painting, when mastered, can rival oil painting or any medium of painting. It is laborious and exciting at the same time. It is a labor of love. Fine colored pencil paintings now hang in the best fine art galleries, but for most artists that is not the sought-after reward. The reward is in the doing of each painting; the creative process itself is the joy of it.

I have so much to learn.

I am grateful for people like Alyona Nickelsen, Vera Curnow, Sheri Doty -- and hundreds of others in the CPSA and affiliated organizations -- who are sharing their hard-sought and hard-won knowledge in this new and exciting art medium.

© 2012 Pamela Kinnaird W

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Comments 40 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 20 months ago from Maui and Arizona Author

You are right. I must not be so ridiculous about the chalk dust. I'll be over to read some more of your hubs very soon. Thanks for visiting.


annart profile image

annart 21 months ago from SW England

I find the dustiness good because it's possible to smudge and blend! Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

Ann


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Pamela Kinnaird W 21 months ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, Ann. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and the heron. That's great that your preferred medium are the pastels and pastel chalks. I've only used my chalk pastels a few times. I need to get over how dusty they are during the process and get on with the fun. Thanks for visiting.


annart profile image

annart 21 months ago from SW England

I have some watercolour pencils which I enjoy using but my preferred medium is pastel or pastel crayons. I agree with you that the colours and definition in this type of art are more detailed; they can show great depth.

Love your heron; it happens to be one of my favourite birds.

Not sure which of the two versions I prefer; the first is vibrant and reflects the predator character of the bird, the second is softer with a mysterious quality. Either way, it's a beautiful drawing.

You've included lots of information here and you encourage others to have a go; excellent hub.

Ann


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Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Dolores Monet, like you I've always been drawn toward realistic art. But I also love looking at children's books and seeing the different styles the artists use. There was one I just adored. I borrowed it from the library on Maui. It was by a well-known Icelandic author and illustrator. (Or was she from Greenland -- I'm not absolutely sure.) But the book was about chickens and eggs. It was hilarious. And the artwork was so childlike and yet really good. I have googled and searched to find that book again, but no luck. You're sure right -- chalk pastels do make a mess. They also make one's fingers crack if you don't wear gloves when you work with them. But they're sure 'purty' on the paper. Thanks for visiting!


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Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Kiss and Tales, thanks for visiting, reading and commenting.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Wow! Thank you, Au fait. I've never had such raves all at once. Much appreciated.


Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 2 years ago

Great hub ! When an Artist can capture beauty on paper by means of pens and pencils and chalk ,oils, they share God 's thoughts. But they study it more in details.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

I recently saw someone using these, someone who used to use chalk pastel. The pencils don't make the mess like the chalk pastels. And the colors, as you pointed out, are so brilliant and beautiful. I checked out the galleries in your link - great stuff. I've always been fascinated with the super-realistic work. It's pretty amazing. I love your first picture, and think I like it better than the second.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

Both of your drawings are incredible and equally beautiful! If you haven't already, you should be showing your work at galleries.

Voted up, BAI, pinned, and shared with followers and on FB.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

seanorjohn, Sorry for taking so long to reply. I've been out of the loop with family stuff. Thank you for your comment. I do really enjoy working with colored pencils when I want to relax. There are some excellent books on Amazon which teach the techniques. I've just bought myself another one- this time on my birds. Birds are my favorite subject to tackle. I hope you and your daughter give it a try.


seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 3 years ago

Absolutely fascinating. Some of the work including your own is simply stunning. One of my daughters has a talent for art so I know what to buy her for her Birthday. Voted up


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

pstraubie48, all of us have untapped artistic ability. If we can sign our name then we have learned the same skills (in learning how to sign our name or write any word for that matter) that we need to draw. It's a matter of looking, drawing, looking, drawing -- just like when we learned to draw the letter A and the letter B, etc. An excellent book on this subject is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

I think the real problem is getting motivated enough to learn. I know it is for me -- in this busy world. Thanks for reading and commenting.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

Good morning

Wow, colored pencils in the hands of the right person create amazing work. I am fascinated by birds of all sizes and shapes and colors so yours above caught my eye right away. Awesome. I am not an artist so am in awe of the talent and creativity of others. thank you for sharing this with us.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

You're very kind. Thank you, jandee!


jandee profile image

jandee 4 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

Pamela I would like to see your best one ?! Ha, your bird is superb but I bet you have a Boxer one somewhere ! Love to see it...

best from jandee


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Wow, Olde Cashmere, thank you very much for all those votes and the sharing. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.


Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

This was such an entertaining and fun read for me. I'm an avid fan of art and love to experiment with different medias. Colored pencils are something I used to work with as a teenager, I think I'll have to get some out again. Your art is lovely Pamela, very inspiring and rich in detail. Voted up, shared, interesting, beautiful, awesome, and interesting :)


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, GarnetBird.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 4 years ago from Northern California

NICE!!!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

barbergirl28, that's really good that your young daughter is enjoying drawing and painting already and that you're encouraging her. Thanks for reading and commenting about the colored pencil art medium.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I love looking at beautiful works of art... although I will admit, if you take out writing and photography, I am not an artist at all. However, artists run in the family (on my husband's side) and my daughter has really found a love for it. Currently she is learning to draw and paint with watercolors. When she gets a little older I might have to look into this rising art medium. Thanks for sharing this great information!


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Ann Lee, no I don't, but thank you for your compliment.


Ann Lee profile image

Ann Lee 4 years ago

Do you have a website where you sell your paintings? Beautiful.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

You are extremely talented, thoughtfulgirl12. I especially your Flowers Everywhere and your watercolor paintings. (And your photography.)


thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago

Your painting is lovely. Really well done:)


thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago

Thank-you for this piece. I don't think people realize the beautiful possibilities that color pencil delivers without the endless mess of paints. Although I love painting in many different mediums, I really enjoy the portability of color pencils. I never know what I'll find out in the world, so I always have at least 1 neutral and usually 5 color pencils with me along with some great paper to draw on. Check out this link to redbubble. www.redbubble.com, key in "creativegirl2" and take a peek at my painting "what wind does". This was done in color pencil and marker.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Dahlia Flower, the techniques are fun to learn, aren't they? I've used the solvent and one other technique, but I've many more to learn. Thanks for commenting.


Dahlia Flower profile image

Dahlia Flower 4 years ago from Canada

This is very interesting. I've used chalk pastels quite often. I've also been learning the techniques used with colored pencils. Voted up, useful and Sharing.


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Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Rhelena, thank you. Not only does crocheting take patience, it takes something I really don't have. I don't know what it is, but I cannot get the hang of crocheting. My grandmother tried very hard to teach me several times. I did get the basic stitch and made umpteen pillows, but I couldn't understand anything beyond the basic stitch. You are a talented lady.


Rhelena profile image

Rhelena 4 years ago

You have an amazing talent!! People tell me I have a lot of patience for crocheting, but painting has got to take even more...especially when adding so much detail...


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

psuedo-scripto14, thanks for the compliment. I have a lot to learn yet, though. Thanks for commenting.


pseudo-scripto14 profile image

pseudo-scripto14 4 years ago from Philippines

Is that your work Pam? So vivid and the color blending is mesmerizing! With such prowess you could held a one woman exhibit in no time! I was astonished that now there are different variants of color pencils and the type of art paper or papers to be consider! I love art but I'm not lucky enough to possesss the talent required by it! Glad that there's a hubber like you who takes time to teach us this type of art! Great artist with brilliant mind! Keep it up and Kudos!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

That's really neat that you like to draw fashion sketches. Thanks for stopping by.


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 4 years ago from Maine

Hi Pamela, I never knew these pencils existed. I draw fashion sketches with pencil, know I can add color to the sketches with these pencils. Coloring with these pencils are a lot neater too, you won't have all the mess the water and oil based paints can make. Thank you!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

You are very welcome.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

Oh--I see the difference. My mother used to do paint-by-number art, and some of those were the water-pencil types. She also used to hand-color black and white photos with translucent oil paints made for the purpose. But draw? No, she could not. I'll have to drag out my Prismacolors and do some more experimenting. Thanks for the inspiration.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, DzyMsLizzy. Wow, you're very gracious. I'm not really that good yet.

You asked why we call it colored pencil painting. No, it's not that we use wet pencil crayons -- although that certainly can be used for part of a background if using the appropriate weight and type of art paper but this medium is called painting because the work is the same amount of work -- or more -- and the colors are pure. The difference is we are not applying them with a brush and water. We are applying the colors with pencil, sometimes smudging them or using other techniques -- as a painter does -- but we are painting them onto a canvas or art paper. Also in the process we use a product called Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS)which eliminates pencil strokes (as explained in the book I named in the hub.) It is a solvent and can be bought under different brand names. (Gamsol, being one.) Plain mineral spirits can be harmful and toxic, but OMS is odorless and much less toxic. The OMS helps to soften the binding of the pigment -- the pure color. This is another reason it has earned the description of painting. Thanks, again.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

Oh, my goodness, that is a beautiful piece of art you have shown! You have great talent.

I love Prismacolors, but I'm no artist--I draw not much above the level of a first-grader--I play with my pencils. My husband is such a fine artist that it's intimidating!

Goodness-pencil-art clubs & societies? Who would have thought!?!? The drawings on that website are spectacular!

When you say, "colored pencil painting," do you mean these are like some special pencils my mom got hold of once, where you draw, and then go over the colors with a wet or damp paintbrush, to make them look like paint?

Voted up across the board and shared.

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