Friday, May 19, 2017

I’m beginning to deeply study watercolor pencils. Oh sure, I’ve used them in the past, but now I want more control over them, have a better understanding on techniques. The biggest problem I have with these pencils comes from their chalk-like appearance when laid down on paper.  So I’m taking it upon myself to use as many papers and pencils as I can afford to purchase.

In this newsletter, I will talk about two manufacturers:  Prismacolor and Derwent In my upcoming classes and/or workshops I will cover more companies.  From the top, I love Prismacolor colored pencils. They have always been soft and full of pigment. So naturally, I turned immediately to their watercolor pencils first. I was surprised. While I love the full, vibrant color in dry form, it can be a challenge in the wet form. In other words, you really have to color lightly with these puppies--create layers.  So this took some getting used to when applying the color.

When you open your box of watercolor pencils, I’d recommend creating a color chart, as I’ve done below. In that way you can get a good feel of what colors are available. Since the names or colors on some pencils don’t necessarily follow any standards.

On the other hand, I found Derwent less colorful and stiffer to apply. Their colors don’t even begin to match those in the Prismacolor set, although their Inktense brand beats them all. However, the Inktense pencils are water-soluble ink pencils, not watercolor (water-soluble) colored pencils. Back to the Derwent pencils, they do have their place. I found that using certain colors was fine. Notice below, the reds are far brighter and juicier in the Prismacolor, but as for the greens, there seems to be no difference.

Notice the greens are fairly similar, bu there is
a larger difference between the reds.

For years I've never liked the way watercolor pencils appear on paper. After you apply water to them, they always seem to have that messy line work.  You can see what I mean on the cherry below. There isn't that smoothness you get when working directly with colored pencils.

Maybe I'm too picky, but I like my work to be less muddied. That got me to start thinking about the papers I use when working in colored pencil. I usually prefer smooth (or plate) surfaces. And that was the solution. Below you will find a drawing (not complete) I've done of a bird colored with Prismacolor watercolor pencil. Notice how smooth everything is?

Drawn on hot press watercolor paper; much
smoother. Have not completed project. Notice the
lines to placed down for future blending.
Now notice the garlic picture (unfinished as well) that's been done on cold press. It's more difficult to blend the lines, which is okay because they are helping to define form.

The good news!
I am really enjoying myself. Part of my previous problems with watercolor pencils is that I really didn't give the medium a chance. I've discovered that not only the quality of pencils come into play but also the paper on which you draw. Plus, you can use different pencils in the same drawing. That gives me lots of freedom.

 Learn how Prismacolor makes their pencils:


What's coming up!

Second session of Spring classes begin next week!

Pencil to BrushWe will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project. Landscapes.
Every Tuesday morning

10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

New! The Evening DrawWatercolor Pencils
Every Tuesday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

The Morning Draw
Watercolor Pencils
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Pencil to Brush 
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project. Landscapes
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

To sign up for class, please email me, Jill Goodell, at:

Upcoming 2018 Sketching Cruises

Sketching Fall Colors 7-Day
Sketching Cruise
 New England and Canada

Friday, Sep 14 - 21, 2018
Cruise $799 (PPDO) plus fees & taxes*
Workshop Tuition: $700


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