Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Colored Pencil?

Laure of Painted Thoughts Blog left a comment and a question in response to my last blog post detailing some cp experiments. Laure's question was:

"Not being a CP girl, I guess I'm a little confused. It seems from your conclusions that you are leaning towards the results that look the least like CP . . . . If this is the case, why not just use the acrylics to paint the skin tones? What am I missing?"

Good question! After letting the question sit in my subconscious for a few days, here's the surprisingly simple answer: It feels good! It really feels more like cp picked me, than I picked cp. For some time I'd seen really great cp work on various blogs and though I liked the artwork, frankly, the idea of painting with painstakingly slow pencils that have a point about as big as the end of a toothpick did not appeal to me at all. I think in the end curiosity got the better of me. I just had to give it a try, and when I did I was really quite surprised to find out that I loved the medium. Of course there are times I wish it wasn't such slow going, but most of the time I find the slowness almost meditative and when I settle into a cp piece the world goes away and I'm doing what I was made to do.

I like the fact that with cp the color goes directly onto the support. There's no mixing, no selecting a particular brush, no dipping in water.... just pick up a yummy color that's conveniently housed in a handy pencil and go to it! There's no mess to clean up (I love the look of pastels but dislike the dust and the mess), no fumes that make me queasy (oils), and no brushes to wash up. You don't have to wait for it to dry, nor worry about your painting becoming too dry while you're making up your mind. Plus, if you're afflicted with the "detail bug", cp excels in that area.

Having said all that, even though I love using cp, I don't want to be limited in the finishes and effects that I can achieve. I love an expanse of rich smooth color. I also don't want people to look at my art and say (usually in a dismissive way), "Oh, that's colored pencil"- as if it's somehow inferior to other mediums. I'm convinced that cp is as capable as any other medium of delivering art that can make a viewer's eyes pop and their emotions stir.

If you'd like to see some really great cp art, here's a link to Ann Kullberg's website where you can find a cp art gallery guaranteed to wow you:


Well, that was fun! Thanks, Laure, for asking - I've enjoyed thinking it over and now I'm even more excited about my next cp piece!


Connie said...

Was looking through your art slide show just now, that little guy watering the flowers is wonderful! He looks so sweet I just wanted to gobble him up. (I'm a grandma-I can do those things). You some water with your CP's don't you? Some of the pictures looked like you may have blended with a wet brush. You are very talented. Really liked Gracie's picture also.

Teresa said...

Hi Connie,

Glad you like the art! I don't use water with the cp - they're wax based and oil based so the water wouldn't work. I do use a solvent (thinner) to get a smooth effect. I also have a "pen" that I can brush solvent on that gives it a paint-like effect.

Visited your blog - but couldn't get in! Let me know if you decide to go public.

Thanks for stopping by.

Laure Ferlita said...

Thank you for such a great and in depth answer! I didn't mean to put you on the spot, I just really didn't understand why you wouldn't use acrylics with your CP. However, it sounds like maybe it helped to clarify some of your thoughts on your chosen medium.

I think it's kind of along the same lines as using opaque watercolor (gouache) or acrylics to get your whites back when you lose them with transparent watercolor. Some artists do, some don't. It comes down to a personal choice and really, has nothing to do with the "rules" that out there.

Again, thanks for sharing!

Connie said...


An interesting thing happened when I followed your link to Ann Kullberg. I was browsing the gallery and stopped at a picture by Ruth Rogers, "Corsican Mint" 2003 Monochromatic and my husband walked in saw the picture and asked what I was looking at. I explained and he said he knew that artist and had one of her drawings in his office at work. She was a student of his. He a Professor of Biology at Linfield College in Portland, Or. It is spooky how frequently paths crisscross across the web. I haven't gone public on my blog yet because I'm not sure where to go with it. Thanks for looking though.

pencilportraits said...

I work in colour pencils as well and understand it does take an age to get things onto paper but I do like it. Can you tell me a bit about your 'pen' you have mentioned to brush on solvent please.

Teresa said...

Thank YOU for asking the question! It gave me a new appreciation for the medium as I thought the matter through.

I went to the 2003 Monochrome gallery to see the art... and it's wonderful! How coincidental that she was a student of your husband's... it is a small world after all!

Pencil Portraits: Hi and thank you for stopping by. The solvent pen is made by Prismacolor and it's called a Colorless Blender. It looks like a marker pen and has a tip on both ends - a wide tip on one end and a fine tip on the other end. The fine tip works really well for places where you just want a touch of solvent. It's more expensive to use than buying a bottle of solvent, but is convenient and nice to have on hand.

Artist Unplugged said...

I like using colored pencils and found today's post very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

Jo Castillo said...

Teresa, it does seem that media picks the artist. I love pastels and pen and ink. I don't have the patience for colored pencil. It seems like what you said about being meditative is common among CP artists. Your work is wonderful and the fit with colored pencil is right on!

Ann said...

Very well stated, I enjoyed reading this post. And I completely agree with every point, as for me too, cp is the media of choice for now. Thanks so much for putting it all in writing :)

Teresa said...

Artist Unplugged, Jo and Ann: Thank you so much! So nice when you guys stop by to visit!

Deborah said...

I discovered your blog through a link on another blog (can't remember whose). I'm so happy to have found you. We have much in common. I love colored pencil and all the reasons you gave are so true about the medium. I have about 500 Prismacolors. I love the color and their immediacy. I have a cupful at work, on the coffee table at home, and then on my studio table they're all organized by color. I find myself trying other medium because I have them and because pencils are very slow. But like you I like the meditative quality of slow drawing with the smooth bright colors. Yum!
I'm rambling... Glad I found you; will read more.

Jan said...

I admire anyone who can take the slow pace of colored pencil and end up with results like yours! I like the control I get with cp but I always say that I want to be certain I'll live long enough to finish a cp painting! Like Jo, I don't have the patience for the medium!

Kudos to you for the fine job you do with them!

Teresa said...

Jan: Thank you! Guess some of us are just designated turtles in the race of life!

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