Coloured Pencil – trying something new

pencil book

I bought this book on ebay – Colored pencil by Eileen Sorg. Only of course it’s spelled wrong. It’s COLOURED WITH A U. But I digress.

At the end of each set of a sort of art I tend to find that I want to do something totally different for a change. I’ve done a lot of landscapes and a lot of portraits, all in oil lately. And I read a book on various art techinques so I’ve decided to give the following a go:

  • Coloured Pencil (which i have in abundance)
  • Ink/Wash (requires an outlay of cash)
  • Egg Tempera (requires a massive outlay of cash)
  • Silverpoint pencil (requires a lot of fiddling and an outlay of cash)
  • Using a camera obscura (requires a lot of fiddling and some building)
  • Print making (i have none of the things i need for this!)

Starting with Pencil, bit of a no brainer really.
I had a packet of 72 Derwents from when I was a kid. I never really liked colouring in (BORING) and I didn’t know you could do proper pictures with coloured pencil.  Also i was told for some reason when I got them that  I had to sharpen them with a blade not a sharpener, so really they never were pointy and so they were always very imprecise and therefore my colouring in was even worse than usual.  I didn’t really like those pencils, to be honest. Never got into them, that’s why I still have them twenty something years later.

The pencil book talks a lot about paper too and how important this is – I think I’d only ever tried shiny office paper or colouring book paper when i was a kid, which would not have helped.  And you are not taught as a child to layer; you colour in as hard as possible and even as possible and that’s what colouring in IS. All these things one has to unlearn to use colour pencil like a grown up and use it for art. I’m still unlearning.

I wondered if my pencils had ‘turned’ or were just shit to start with – after all they came in a packet rather than a tin and I was wondering how original they were.  They were a birthday or christmas gift when I was a kid, surely in primary school (early 80s).


– so I bought a new box of 12 Derwents (seen up the top there) to compare them. (I LOVE EBAY)



Turns out the colours are identical between old and new – but the naming convention instead of ’16’ is now ‘1600’.  Also now only the end is dipped in the colour rather than the entire pencil. Other than that – identical! And once I sharpened the old ones properly, they were really good to use. All that time hating them cause i was sharpening them ineffectively!

Here is the same colour held up for comparison (old on the bottom).


Anyway, I followed the instructions in the book on the first exercise and on nice paper and came up with this.


A bit rough around the edges. But I can see the potential! they pencils are waxy and they do blend quite well. It’s a matter of finding the right techniques to get a good even look, and figuring out how best to use the colours.  Then I did this (also from the book)


Ok that was getting better – the possibilities of what was going on with how to pick colours and blend starting becoming more apparent. So I decided to do one of my own. I was at Tooradin one foggy morning and got a picture of the inlet from the nice cafe we always used to get our burgers from when we’d go to Venus Bay (mmmm. Burgers) – and so I decided to try doing a picture of my own from scratch.


Came out looking like something from a 1940s illustration of country life. Which I find i can live with, suits me!

I have a long way to go with pencil.  But it’s a good start.

Then I had a brainwave. Last year I wrote a little poem and i came up with illustrations for it. I drew them then blanked in the watercolour and there they have sat for a year being uninspired. I couldn’t figure out how to finish them off. I wanted to do more with them but just didn’t know where to start:


Then it occured to me: why not pencil over the background?

This is an almost complete one. I need to darken bits and lighten more bits. But. a lot more colour there, right! I have about 10 pictures to do. it’s certainly going to be a good exercise if nothing else in getting better at coloured pencil.


Yes, that is a copy of my telephone, too. Which is a modern reproduction that crackles horribly just like an original one. It’s digital. I wish I had my analog one up and running to be able to make calls.  When I’d talk to Dad on that he’d say “You sound like Donald Bradman”. Not meaning I was really super at cricket, but that I sounded like a voice recording from the 1930s.