Colored Pencil in the World of Art

You’ve observed oil and acrylic paintings, you admire the glow of watercolor, but are you familiar with the varied and fascinating medium called colored pencil? Colored pencil works of art need no detailed preparation and need only simple materials: pencils, sharpeners, erasers, and paper, to produce some amazing and impressive results of the artist’s own peculiar expression. This artistic medium can stand on its own as a drawing or copy the look of a painting executed in another medium. It can be solid or airy depending on how the pencil is utilized to the paper and whether it is a quick colorful sketch or an elegant illustration. Since the colored pencil is a dry, clear medium, colors are mixed right on the paper by layering one color on top of another. The more layers applied; the more radiant and vigorous the drawing will look as the colors are woven together.

The type of paper used will give a drawing certain features too. A smooth surface will create a soft look and even, continuous flow of the pencil. Textured paper, which is paper with a tooth or a grain, can give the design an entirely different look. Many artists work on colored paper which adds flecks of color to the drawing as it shows through from the background. Thus, the drawing takes on a harmonious quality.

Of course, the pencil isn’t always used by itself, it can be blended with other mediums such as watercolor, pastel or ink. The different types of mediums can enrich a drawing and present it with contrasting qualities or characteristics as well as textures. Many artists use watercolor washes as backgrounds for their drawings or add bits of paints or pastels to enrich an image. The waxy lead of colored pencils can also be dissolved with mineral spirits and brushed onto the paper creating a paint-like quality very different from traditional methods of drawing.

What about lightfastness? Will the colors be immune to light and not fade through the years? Colored pencil production companies have worked very hard in the past decade to development of a standard of lightfastness for many brands of colored pencils. Colored pencil now ranks high in longevity and this enables artists to choose the highest quality products which are a valuable asset for the collector of the art. The surface in which the artwork is drawn is critical too. Archival drawing papers and boards are made of fiber such as cotton or linen and are acid-free, meaning that they will not turn yellow in time. There are other elements that will ensure the longevity of a colored pencil piece. Spraying a UV resistant clear fixative over the finished drawing will ensure the longevity of the artwork as well as framing it under UV filtering glass. Public awareness of archival and lightfast works will increase the value and profitability of the art.

Inspired and fascinated by this medium? Whether it is combined, blended, layered, or merged, many results can be reached from photo-realism to abstract to illustration. Colored pencils can be used very skillfully to wow the viewer with a lively art or composed image.

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