Colored Pencils ... Let's Color! by Margaret Riley

Margaret Riley inspiration

By Margaret Riley

Many say that using colored pencils will relieve stress. Are you stressed today? Perhaps the coloring books on the market give us an escape to just color, giving us a step back in time when we were children. I LOVED getting a colored book when I was little. And I love to color with my grandchildren! I have invested in good quality colored pencils and from time-to-time get them out to give myself a break from painting with acrylics. But let’s talk about the colored pencils we see in the art market.

Colored pencils for art purposes began in the early 20th century. Faber-Castell® stands up and proclaims they invented and produced the first art colored pencil in 1908. Caran d’Ache® also states 1924 was when they brought their colored pencils into our market. Berol® started making colored pencils in 1938. More companies have come into the market since giving us an array of pencils to chose from.

Most colored pencils have a core of colored pigment with a wood protective casing. Colored pencils have a different core than standard pencils we use to write with. The core is made of wax, pigments, additives, and binding agents, which are found in most colored pencils makings. Yet, some colored pencils have an oil-based core that are water soluble. There are different types of colored pencils and for different uses as well as surfaces they adhere to. Types found today are: artist grade, student/scholastic grade, mechanical, watercolor, and pastel.

What surfaces are best for colored pencils? Recently, I saw an artist use colored pencil on fabric. The fabric was not washable once the pencil was used, but I liked the technique. Surfaces that work are: printmaking papers, watercolor papers, sandpapers, pastel papers, mat boards, scrapbook paper, wood, acetate, vellum, mylar, and Plexiglas. The best way to know what will work is to apply on the backside of your surface to get the feel of the pencil along with how it looks.

There is a great article by Lydia Steeves in Painting World Magazine’s December 2018 issue. She gives you the ins and outs of colored pencil techniques. Also, she shows some beautiful artwork done in colored pencils. Check it out! If you aren’t a subscriber to this magazine, head to and subscribe.

You don’t have to be a pro to use colored pencils. Buy a coloring book for adults and a package of colored pencils. Sit down, take a deep breath, and start coloring. It is a portable art and can easily fit into your purse (well, not mine!). A great art to do while waiting for a child to get done with a sport, waiting to see the doctor, or just to relax at the end of the day!

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  • LaVonne Girardin on

    I have started taking colored pencil projects with me when traveling. They are portable, light, and don’t take up much room. Not doing down time well, these projects help keep me busy.

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