Monday, August 27, 2012


Some days weeks. I swear.

I know you're not supposed to let people see you sweat, but I thought in this case I'd let you see, just a little, of the frustration that sometimes goes with colored pencils.

I started this piece with Prismacolors, and this is what happened. Lots of broken leads. Lots and lots and lots. More than this, actually. I know there's been talk on various boards and groups about the quality of these going downhill recently, and now I believe it. I've been a Prismacolor user since art school days, and never, until this most recent batch, have I had this kind of a problem with them.

I've been using an Xacto School Pro electric sharpener, and also a hand held one. The leads broke in both. I finally couldn't stand it anymore, and ripped up the original version of this art I had been working on, and packed up my Prismas and put them back in the drawer. I actually developed a knot in my back from the stress of trying to make these things behave!

Then I got out my Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors, and started over. Bliss.

I'm working on trying to get a stronger look for some of my work, with more saturated color.

That involves some layering and burnishing. As I go, I make notes about what I'm doing so I can keep track, and get the same colors throughout the piece. Kind of like following a recipe.

Not very scientific, but it works. You can see how I scribble a note usually with whatever pencil I happen to have in my hand at the time. I'm finding that a lot of the time I can get the same result with fewer layers, but it takes me a few tries to get there. 

You can see here how the cat on the right isn't fully developed yet. The finished cats on the corners, and the one in the middle, have different color combinations (for the cat itself, not the outlines), but they ended up being almost exactly the same color. The 'sideways' cat has True Blue in the recipe, but that was sort of cancelled out by the Olive Green I put later I think. Its fun to experiment and see what happens with colors. They don't always do what you think they will, especially when you burnish!

I'm working on other things too. The weather is finally starting to turn just a hair cooler, and my sanity is returning. Yay!


Sarah Melling said...

I love these, Paula! Such a wonderful texture! You don't suppose that our hot weather has anything to do with the breakage, do you? I'm so committed to Prismacolor that I doubt I'll invest in another brand just yet...

CC said...

Firstly, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your cat knot garden.
But mostly, I so appreciate your color pencils issues...and I've learned so much.

Its very good to show the blood sweat and tears once in a while. Cuts down on the perception that what we do is fun. :-/


Feathers said...

edscopow 37
Well, it's more fun when your tools don't work against you! I've had issues with more recently bought Prismas too, and am using mostly Polychromos now. --Love the cat project. experimenting with color combinations is fun too.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i have about 2 full tins of prismas and haven't used them for about 5 years. i use the odd one here and there, but got sick of them breaking so much.

love polys and the coloursofts, haven't had any problems with either of them.

Starrpoint said...

Color pencils are delecate, They cannot be dropped.

I don't sharpen mine all the way in the sharpener, but use a sanding block to finish them so they do not break.