Art Materials

In the studio in 2018 – working on a drawing from a photo I took in Monet’s garden in 2012.

Choosing art materials is as personal as choosing friends.  What works for me may also  work for you.  Here is a page showing you the art materials I use for my mixed media drawings.   I work with a combination of coloured pencils and oil pastels.


My favourite paper is Arches Aquarelle hot-pressed watercolour paper 300 or 356 gsm. This is a wonderfully strong paper which suits coloured pencils and oil pastels very well.

“Day Trip to Giverny”
oil pastels and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle 300 gsm smooth.

“Walking with Claude”
 oil pastels, and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.

As well as single sheets, Arches Aquarelle also comes in blocks of 20 sheets.  Below is the largest size block (18 x 24 inches).

Arches Aquarelle

“Sunrise Reflected” 2019

“Sunrise Reflected” is drawn on a page from the Arches Aquarelle block.

In 2013 I joined CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America).  One of the main reasons I joined was to gain access to their “Lightfastness Test Result Workbook”.  CPSA has independently tested many brands of pencils to see how resistant they are to fading.  Within each brand, some pencils are very light-fast and some are extremely prone to fading – or they even change colour over time (known as fugitive).   Learn which colours are safe to use and which colours to absolutely avoid by joining CPSA and accessing their test results.   [January 2017:  CPSA have just released their 8th version of this workbook.]

Only one brand of pencils has the highest light-fast rating throughout its whole colour range.  This is Luminance 6901 made by Caran d’Ache.  You can happily pick out any pencil in the set and use it with impunity.

Caran d'Ache Luminance and Pablo coloured pencils.

Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo coloured pencils.

Two tools I regularly use with my pencils are 1: a pencil extender.  I use this to lengthen my pencil so that I can use it in a painterly loose way rather like a paint brush.  (See photo below to see how I am holding it.) The best pencil extender in my opinion is made by Generals.  I bought my supply on-line from Dick Blick in USA.  Generals ‘The Miser’ Pencil Extender

2: A blender stick made of oils and wax, without any pigment in.  It blends layers of colour together and burnishes them.

Holding the pencil extender this way, one achieves a very light loose stroke.

Holding the pencil extender this way, one achieves a very light loose stroke.

Front and rear of the packet which the Caran d'Ache blender comes in.

Front and rear of the packet which the Caran d’Ache blender comes in.

A bristle brush, the type you use for oil painting, is excellent for blending coloured pencils.  In the drawing “A Room with a View” the only blender I have used is a brush – to push the colours together and into the paper.  The result looks more like paint than pencils.  No water is used, or anything but a dry brush.

“A Room with a View” the coloured pencil is blended with a brush.

Coloured pencils and oil pastels work beautifully together to make strong vibrant mixed media drawings.  To read about my technique of using oil pastels and coloured pencils together, please see the post Brush and Pencil.

“Stepping Out” is drawn with coloured pencils, Neopastels and Neocolor.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble wax pastels and Neopastel sets.

Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Water soluble wax pastels and Neopastel sets.

(A suggestion:  If you have to do a large area of one colour – such as the sky in “Surveillance” – it is very tedious to do with coloured pencils alone.  Before you put any pencils on, put a light layer of Neocolor I, II, Neopastel or Sennelier oil pastel on the paper.   Once you have covered the area with Neocolor or pastel, you can layer over with your pencils.  This gives the pencils something to grab on to.  It saves time and creates a nice even area of a colour.)  See Brush and Pencil

“Surveillance”. The first layer of my blue sky is Neocolor II.

“Step by Step”(below) is drawn with a mix of coloured pencils, Caran d’Ache Neocolor II and Neopastels.

Step by Step small size

This image shows the complete range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.

 Sennelier oil pastels.  These are smooth, moist and creamy pastels.  I used them as an undercoat in “Wait” pictured below.  Then I layered coloured pencils over the top of the pastel undercoat.

oil pastel undercoat of “Wait”

“Wait” finished.

Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you an idea of scale). The biggest one only comes in black and white.

This image shows the undercoat of part of a drawing entirely put on with Sennelier pastels – with a brush. (Pencils will be worked over the top.)

“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.  The finished result.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017

I apply oil pastels with a bristle brush – the sort one uses for oil painting.  It is a technique I call “dry painting”.  I push the pigment into the paper with the brush.  Working this way means I also need odourless solvent to clean the brush with.  Pastels applied to paper with a brush make such a lovely surface to then layer coloured pencils on top of.  I find it much more satisfying to work pencils on top of a pastel surface than over plain white paper.  The two media together have more substance and ‘weight’ than just pencils by themselves.  The saturation and vibrancy of hues which comes from the union of pastels and pencils is astonishing.

In “Time and Space” below, I used Caran d’Ache Neopastels as undercoat for the whole drawing except for the rose.  Why?  Neopastels are fairly dry and can be used in a very subtle way.  I wanted that particular subtlety for the surrounding scene.  For the rose I used an undercoat of Sennelier oil pastels because this pastel’s character is bold.  It is a moist, creamy and strong pastel so great for areas that I want to stand out.

“Time and Space”

Another example of the differing qualities of Caran d’Ache Neopastels and Sennelier oil pastels:  In “Still Life”(below)  Caran d’Ache Neopastels are used as undercoat on the left side (the slightly distant buildings and signs).  For the detailed wall on the right and the ‘sens interdit’ (no entry) street sign I used the bold Sennelier oil pastel.  Can you see the difference?   One is subtle and the other is as solidly opaque as paint.

“Still Life”
February 2018

If you would like to read about using white in the creation of luminous colours read the post “Undercover White”.

“Wafting” 2019. Learn how to make luminous colours in “Undercover White”.

In 2016 while visiting Sydney I came across Kadmium Art + Design supplies, a very well-stocked shop which sells OPEN STOCK of all of my favourite Caran d’Ache products; Luminance, Museum Aquarelle, Neocolor 1 and 2, Supracolor Soft, Pablos, Neopastels and more.  They also sell open stock of Sennelier oil pastels.    They ship Australia-wide.  Here are their details: 80b Bay Street, BROADWAY  NSW 2007.  website  or phone:  +61 (0)2 9212 2669

Kadmium Art + Design

Kadmium Art + Design Supplies

The following is a list of suppliers’ and manufacturers’ websites:

Caran d’Ache: – Swiss coloured pencils


Arches Aquarelle paper  – Arches Aquarelle is my favourite paper for coloured pencil work

Dick Blick Art Materials  Dick Blick supply artists world-wide.   Kadmium Art + Design supplies in Sydney.  They sell open stock and boxed sets of Caran d’Ache products and ship Australia-wide.

Melbourne Etching Supplies A Melbourne stockist of art papers.  They ship Australia-wide.

parkersartsupplies   Parkers Sydney Fine Arts Supplies in Sydney – A treasure-trove of a shop where I buy my Arches Aquarelle blocks, plus Sennelier and Holbein oil pastels.

The Art Shop in Melbourne is where I bought my full set of Sennelier oil pastels.  The link is

August 2017
coloured pencils on top of an undercoat of oil pastels.

You might like to check out my post Caran d’Ache Open Stock Available in Australia  

The Exceptional Box  – a post about the most amazing box of pencils you’ll ever see.

Thanks for looking at my Art Materials page.  If you would like to peruse my other blog posts please take a look at the Contents of Posts Index




63 thoughts on “Art Materials

  1. Sabrina

    Thank you Julie for giving us so many details. It makes me understand your art better and how hard you work to obtain the best results 🙂

  2. Malcolm

    Thanks for the opportunity to see behind the process and for the trouble of writing the blog. I am very new to coloured pencils – in fact so new that I have the pencils but havent really started yet. My initial inspiration to have a go came as a result of visiting one of your exhibitions.

    best wishes


    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Malcolm, that’s exciting. What pencils have you bought? There is nothing as nice as a brand new unused box of pencils! If you find that you want to try the Holbeins from Japan at any stage, I can let you know how to get them in Australia. I’ve found the source!

      1. Malcolm

        Hi Julie It was at your Kingfisher Gallery exhibition that I got inspired. Given how long ago that was you can see that inspiration takes some time to percolate through me into action. I agree about new boxes of coloured pencils, in fact I need to watch that buying them doesn’t become an end in itself. I find colour stimulating and can simply enjoy opening the box to look. However as working with coloured pencils is meant to be my retirement learning curve I am going to need to go somewhat further. Thanks for the generous offer to answer questions.

        best wishes


  3. Brigitte Shaw

    I loved Malcolm’s comment about enjoying opening the box of new pencils just to look at. I did the same many times before I actually started a drawing. In fact I ended up leaving the box open on my table for ages and unused just so I could look at the 120 delicious colours each time I glanced that way. Now I have seriously started and can understand what you meant, Julie, when you wrote that from beginning to the finishing of the first layer can take a few weeks. It is very time-consuming work but at the same time so relaxing. Can you please detail for me how you go about tracing? I know this should be simple. Do you use velum? Do you spread a layer of 6B pencil on the back of the velum once it has been traced off the original? I have done this and wondered if there was a better way.
    Thank you,
    Brigitte from Dromana

  4. juliepodstolski Post author

    Woohoo – a question! Hi Brigitte. Regarding tracing, velum might be a better way than my way. I don’t know as I have never tried your way. I make a photocopy as I said somewhere on this blog. For the big drawings I have to make a couple (sometimes even four) photocopies of the different parts of the picture and then carefully match them up and sellotape them together – as most of my works are bigger than an A3 sheet of paper (the biggest sheet my photocopier can take).
    Once I have the photocopy, I outline the main lines and tonal differences on it with a black Faber Castell Polychromos pencil. This can be a slow process, depending on the size and complexity of what is on the photocopy. I have to be able to see the lines through my heavy Pescia paper.
    Hence I am doing all the trace lines twice – first on the photocopy – and then on the paper FROM the photocopy. I sellotape the photocopy to the back of the paper and then using a lightbox, make my tracing.
    My lightbox consists of a bench with a rectangular hole cut into the top of it – and a thick sheet of perspex covering that hole. In the space under the perspex I have a neon light.
    Does this explanation make sense?

  5. Brigitte

    Ah ha – the secret for your method is a lightbox. Thank you, Julie, for your clear explanation – a very good method but in the absence of a lightbox I will have to continue with my way for the time being.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Well Brigitte, it is what I have NOW. However before I had one I used to tape the paper to a window. The sun was my light box. Standing at a horizontal surface to trace is more comfortable for me than a vertical one though.

      1. Brigitte

        What an absolutely fabulous idea Julie. I will try that out – simply because I like trying out different ideas! (And I’m not sure I really like my method anyway.) I have noticed that my method can leave a film of lead on my pristine white paper where my right hand has been resting, which I’m not even sure completely disappears when I blow it off.

  6. juliepodstolski Post author

    OK, Brigitte. You’ll need to have a strong dark line on the photocopy (or whatever you are tracing from) as the window light isn’t quite as strong as that from a neon light in a lightbox. And I think you need a reasonably bright sunny day.
    Regarding your hand resting on your drawing, have you tried putting a piece of white paper between your hand and the drawing? This is always what I do; just normal white photocopy paper, which I change when it gets a bit grubby.

  7. Brenda

    Hi Julie, Enjoyed reading your site and thanks for sharing your ideas, materials etc. I also have been experimenting with coloured pencils ( and graphite ). Trying watercolours also but dont seem to be able to control them very well. I really enjoy drawing botanicals and bugs etc but still a lot to learn.. I have purchased a couple of books and every one seems to have there prefered way. Do you purchase your Magnani Pescia paper locally. I also live in Perth and find materials sometimes difficult to purchase. Keep up the lovely work and look forward to seeing your next finished painting. Happy colouring Brenda

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Brenda, Thanks for the question. I buy my pescia paper through Jacksons Art Supplies in Fremantle. They have to specially get it in for me from Magnani who have an office in Melbourne. I get 100 sheets a time which costs me several hundred dollars. It is possible that they have some in stock, I don’t know because it is months since I bought my last pack of paper.
      As you are in Perth I would be happy to give you a sheet to try out – to see if you like it. I live in the South Fremantle area. If you would like to visit me, go to my website If you go into ‘contact’ send me an email. We can arrange a meeting.
      Or if you’d rather not do that, I suggest you try phoning Jacksons or contact Magnani’s office in Melbourne via internet.

      1. Brenda

        Hi Julie, Thank you that is very kind. I live up in the Hills but will keep in touch and next in your area will try and catch up/will also try Jacksons. Brenda

  8. Nicholas Herbert

    Julie, Thanks for sharing this info. I will try the Holbein colour pencils too. The paper sounds really tough. Twice recently I have damaged or torn paper supports recently, through pencil pressure, so a tough stock is a useful piece of info.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Nicholas, I don’t know if you’ll be able to get Holbein pencils in the UK shops as they don’t seem to export anywhere as far as I can see. However I have a website for you A very nice guy named Hironao Tanaka owns this company which can send you the pencils from Japan. His email is The price will depend on the current exchange rates. He sent me the biggest box (150 pencils) to Australia; it got here very quickly and he packaged it extremely carefully so the pencils were not traumatized en route. It should be easier for you to find the paper in UK though. If you get in touch with him, say hi from me.

  9. fran caldwell

    Very happy to have found you. Have been painting for years, but always preferred drawing. Who would have thought coloured pencils could work so beautifully? Not me.

  10. Malcolm

    Good morning Julie, Trawling through the internet I came across the Mitsubishi range of colored pencils. Like the Holbein they are only available in Japan although they can be accessed through The point that interested me however is that they, like Holbein, have, in their bigger sets, a large number of pastel colours. I am wondering whether this reflects some very Japanese preference. Do you have any thoughts on this ?

    best wishes


    ps How’s the jet lag ?

  11. juliepodstolski Post author

    Hi Malcolm, I have seen the Mistubishi range in the shops in Japan. I didn’t feel tempted to buy them because I had my mind set on Holbein, having already an idea of their quality. (Besides, I’d rather buy pencils with an artist’s name than a car’s name!) Maybe the huge pastel range IS a Japanese thing. In any case, I love the pastel colours (in the Holbein set) so am happy that I own them. When I look at the colours and designs in kimono, I think to myself that Japanese REALLY know about colours and quality. My next drawing will have kimono in it (an aside).
    Ha – jet lag fine, thanks. It’s just that I’m not quite back on Perth time yet!

  12. Malcolm

    Hi Julie As you suggested Japan In a Box provides an excellent service. After seeing boxes of 50 Holbein pencils advertised on E Bay (a system I prefer to avoid) I contact japan in a box and asked if they could access those sets. The answer was of course ‘yes’ and they let me know as soon as they had been able to get them onto their website. I have now ordered a set. The box of 50 is within a price range I could stretch to ($US179) and includes an interesting range of colours. I have also purchased some sheets of Pescia from Melbourne.

    I must say however that after reading your blog on “Art Rage” I am wondering whether it wouldn’t be a better idea for an a beginner like me to frame the box of pencils rather than try to do anything with them. A friend did suggest at one time that I should do this with all my pencils sets as they rarely get used although are valued. Perhaps such a piece could be could “full of potential”.

    best wishes


    ps. Hope the Art Rage has passed.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Malcolm,
      Well – good old Japan-in-a-box! I’m so pleased that you have used this service. Believe me, the pencils are so beautifully packed that there is no way they will sustain damage in transit. Oh – I’m quite excited that you will be trying Holbein pencils.
      As to my ‘art hell’, thank you for asking, it passed almost straight after I had written that piece. It was something I wanted to get out of my system and writing it down helped to clear the block. The next morning (yesterday) I began a new piece. Plus, I decided that the drawing I wasn’t sure of, had worked after all.
      Judging by the replies on the blog and on facebook, so many people know this state of mind intimately. That is why these things are so good to share.
      Please don’t frame your pencils and please do use them.
      Keep me updated on the ARRIVAL and what you think of them.
      How are you going with your colour theory exercises?

  13. Malcolm

    HI Julie, In your last reply you asked how I was going with my colour theory exercises. Well there’s not much of an answer to that….very little (somethings, but not much). I would like to be able to say that I have been so pushed for time that it hasn’t been possible, but that would be an untruth. My wife does keep asking “are you EVER going to start?”. In part its the fact that just working my way through reading Itten and others isn’t something I have found easy, that is if I want to feel that I fully understand what is being said. It is also (to some extent true) that I have been putting time into working on an enamelled cloisonne wall plaque for my little grandy. Enamelling is a great interest of mine.

    Your art rage blog particularly interested me because has always been in the back of my mind a question about “doing art” as a “hobby”. Can it really be “art” ? Is there not some defining elements that determine whether what a person is doing is “art” or “not art”. If there are no such elements then to me the term “art” seems to have no meaning. Perhaps art is for those who have been born with a predominantly visual way of experiencing and expressing life and the rest of us should stick to those modalities we are best at. “Doin’ a what comes naturally” as Betty Hutton once suggested. How’s that for showing my age

    I hadn’t occurred to me that there could be the “blood sweat and tears” part of doing art that your blog on art rage implies. I guess I did have this romantic notion of the artist working at the easel or bench and everything just flowing from some innate special place.

    Having now written what sounds like my own “art rage” blog I will continue to “puddle” and to ask a question. The Pescia paper I have bought, is there a preferred side for working on ? I will continue to collect pencils, and am certain that things will move along (its just the pace that’s in doubt). And in any case. at my age, there is always the increasing possibility that nature will resolve the issue for me.

    best wishes


    ps. I do have a question for other “would be’s” like me. I have often found it interesting when going to an exhibition or looking at the work of highly competent professional artists, jewellers, enamelllers or whoever, that some of those that I might be with have been incredibly inspired and keen “to get on with it”, I tend to feel the opposite “What’s the point ?” is a question that often comes to mind at such times. I wonder if this happens to others ?

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Good evening Malcolm,

      Your comment has so many parts to it that I have a feeling that I’m about to write a long reply to you.

      The only easy question to answer (all the rest are difficult) is about Pescia paper having a front and a back side. The answer to that one is YES. The front side is the side WITHOUT the watermark on it. That side with the watermark also has a surface that looks like a million tiny craters if you look at it closely. Do you see what I mean? I used to clearly be able to see those craters with the naked eye. But these days my sight has deteriorated so I have to wear my reading glasses and put the piece of paper into strong light and only then can I sort out which is the front side and the back side.
      So, the side with the tiny craters and the watermark is the side NOT to use.

      OK, in truth I also find books on colour theory confusing. At least – I have to concentrate hard and even then some of it flies over my head. I didn’t read Itten’s whole book – I found the first part the most interesting and least confusing. I didn’t read every one of his ‘famous paintings’ colour analyses. I was fortunate that when I took the topic of art at high school a lot of this was drummed into me when I still had a fresh and malleable mind. So that it has become second nature to some extent. Then it was drummed in a second time at art school. Maybe – don’t try for the moon. Just do the most basic of the exercises … if you want to do any at all.

      As far as hobbies vs professionalism, may I use the analogy of horse riding. I dabbled in riding as a teenager and then for many years as an adult. I didn’t have natural talent but I got something out of doing it anyway and took immense pleasure from doing it. So could I call myself a ‘rider’ or not? Compared to someone who had never been on a horse or someone who had hardly ridden, I was certainly a rider. Compared to a serious rider, no, I was just a person who rode for a hobby. I loved it nevertheless.

      As an artist, I am aware of my limitations. Every artist has his or her own set of limitations and works within them whilst trying to extend boundaries. I don’t know any artists (and I know a few) who don’t experience the blood, sweat and tears sometimes. I’m happy to dispel your romantic notion of everything just flowing seamlessly. I think the saying is 5% talent, 95% hard work – something like that.

      Anybody can say they are an artist. I have been irked at times by people who have just picked up art materials for a short time then called themselves artists…(a very common occurrence). Conversely I question how much of an ‘artist’ I am. Sometimes I feel like an imposter and I know some other artists who have had these imposter thoughts about themselves too. Any discipline where excellence is strived for is harrowing at times…even tortuous.

      So ‘why bother?’ you ask? Heaven knows I ask myself the same question from time to time. Each one of us must come up with our own individual answers. I bother because nothing else I do gives me more satisfaction… in fact life is unbearable to me if art isn’t in it. As to horse riding, though, I decided that I could easily live without it so I entirely gave it up about 20 years ago. I still love horses and enjoy watching dressage and showjumping but I am quite content without having to ride myself.

      I chuckle at your statement about nature resolving the issue for you at your age! You have a dry sense of humour!!! (Please don’t go to the better world for a while yet!!!)

      I am glad that you enjoy enamelling. Tell your wife that MY husband has all this fabulous equipment for working with stained glass. It sits untouched year after year.

      all the best,

  14. Malcolm

    Good morning Julie and a tremendous thank you for putting so much time and thought into your reply, it is truly helpful. Fortunately I can still the little craters in the paper when I look close.

    Particularly encouraging for me was your final comment about your husband and his stained glass. Perhaps procrastination is an art form in itself, in which case both he and I can take comfort in our achievements.

    It’s encouraging to know that even for artists at your level there are times of question and doubt. One thing that comes through to me very clearly both from things you say and things said by enamelling artists I know is passion. Passion for “something” about life and the world they live in and a need to express it, and to express it visually. It seems to me that underpinning this desire is an inherent ability to see and think visually (in contrast to the writer who does the same thing using words).

    Once again many thanks and best wishes


    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Good morning Malcolm,

      I forgot to say last night that when I visited Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny last April, our guide told us that Monet had a Cezanne hanging in his bedroom (there was a copy of that painting hanging there still). The painting was facing us but our guide said that when Monet had the real one in his house, he had it facing the wall! Why? Because he was intimidated by it. He would never be able to paint like the master, Cezanne. So there you are. Artists of all levels feel doubts, limitations and intimidation by others’ art.

      Certainly, I believe what you say is true about the passion and the need to express it visually. Underlying it (for me, anyway) is a love of life. That love is what feeds the art.

      Believe me, I procrastinate too – just that in my case it is about things in my life other than drawing.

      I read recently that people who create (in whatever way) need a sense of doubt as without it they are insufferable! ie egos get too huge and ghastly. Doubt balances them.

      And now … time to draw.

      I DO enjoy our discussions.

  15. hafandeg

    I do both. I’m a painter, and a novelist. The need to create setting and character are virtually the same….

  16. Malcolm

    Hi Julie and thanks for the additional comments. I was interested in the response from hafandeg and was wondering whether he/she would be prepared to expand a little more on the notion that the work of the painter and the novelist are virtually the same in respect to creating setting and character.



  17. Malcolm

    Hi Julie, thought I would let you know that my Holbein pencils arrived the other day. Although it is box of 50 only, the colours are great with a number of pastels I’ve not seen in other collections. I have used my Faber Castel sharpener to put a sharper point on a few but in doing so have found one colour that must have breaks along the length of the lead.

    Hiranao apparently lived in Perth for a year some time ago and was keen to find where my suburb was, even to the point of going onto Google Earth. Seems a very pleasant chap and keen to provide good service

    Really enjoyed looking at the paintings you are putting into the auction. As much as I am amazed at all your work it is those involving lanterns that have enormous appeal to me. Its something to do with the level of realism and a sense of mystery that seems to surround these pieces. Perhaps the starkness of the light, often against a blurry background, is what does it for me ….I don’t really know, but please keep doing it.

    best wishes


    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Malcolm, I’m sorry about your broken lead. I hope it is only one. It must have been dropped at some stage. I find that if I drop a pencil (which unfortunately I often do) it shatters the lead.
      Thanks for your lantern feedback. I love drawing lanterns and also find them mysterious as light-giving bodies. I will keep drawing lanterns every so often as I get so much pleasure from them. I only feel that I can give up “Illuminating Dusk” because of drawing “Here Comes the Night” this year which is quite similar.
      Would you consider coming on Saturday so that we can actually meet…and talk in real life as opposed to on the blog? (Incidently you needn’t feel pressured to buy anything. There will be a big crowd and many of them won’t bid.) …though hopefully some will. If you come I can introduce you to Matthew (he who procrastinates with the stained glass).

  18. Malcolm

    Hi Julie Unfortunately Saturday night is not an option for me but thanks anyway. Of course I have the advantage of having a very clear recollection of you when we spoke at one of your exhibitions. Perhaps it’s better this way anyhow. You know what it can be like when you develop an image of someone you listen to on radio… and then you get to see them. It can be very disappointing and I would hate to disappoint you.

    best wishes


  19. Malcolm

    Good morning Julie. Of course you were polite, couldn’t imagine you being anything else. You may remember me mentioning that when my Holbein pencils arrived a couple had broken leads (although at the time of last writing I think I had only found one) however I think I have fixed the problem. In a coloured pencil DVD I had seen the artist suggested that when this happened to just wrap the pencils in some paper towelling and zap them in the microwave for 10 or so seconds. Apparently the lead will soften and rebond. I did this (although for 20 seconds), let them cool, and then sharpened them no trouble. I guess it remains to be seen whether the lead has mended along the whole length of the pencil, but the signs are good.

    best wishes


    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Malcolm,

      Well I never! Next time I find that I have a pencil with shattered lead ie next time I drop one on my hard floor, I will most certainly try this trick with the microwave. Thanks so much for passing on this gem of information.
      All the best, Julie

  20. Nettie

    Hi Julie – I came across your blog when I googled: ” where can I buy caran d’ache full blender in australia” -and have enjoyed reading the discussion between you and Malcolm 🙂
    I am in Victoria – did you buy the full blender online and have you played with it yet and what do you think?…I want to try with the Caran d’ache Neocolor 11 pastels which are my favourite drawing medium – just love the density of colour that can be achieved…thanks in advance Nettie

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Nettie, I bought the blenders from Ken Bromley Art Supplies in the United Kingdom (on-line). I had bought my Luminance pencils from this art supplier in 2009. I just happened to be browsing their on-line catalogue recently when I saw these blenders so decided to give them a try. I haven’t used my blender very much (as the package only arrived a few days ago) but when I did use it, it gave added opacity and richness to the colour. I found I could layer more coloured pencil over the top of it to give rich colour. Caran d’Ache is certainly a beautiful art material – yes – including the Neocolors. It is a pity that they aren’t more readily available in Australian shops.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Well, I just had a look at the site, Nettie. Couldn’t see the Luminance pencils though – unfortunately. That’s great that you can buy open stock (singles) of the Neocolor II. I can also get open stock of my pencils from Ken Bromley. Actually I’m going to be in London in December, so I plan to stock up big while I’m over there.

  21. Dina K.

    Lightfastness aside, which of the pencil sets mentioned above is your favorite for feel, blendability, and laydown? I have the Polychromos and I’ve just learned about the Holbein pencils. Thank you…

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thank you for asking the question, Dina. My favourite pencil is still the Holbein from Japan. While I like the Polychromos, the Holbein pencils are richer in every way including feel, blendability and laydown.

      1. Dina K.

        I bought the biggest set from a Japanese seller on Amazon (MK Japan). The price was just slightly less than the company you linked above, and they included a sharpener (T’Gaal Multisharpener – has a dial for different point lengths – interesting) and a small bottle of their Meltz solvent. They’re dreamy, and you’re right – SUCH a difference from what I have been using. Excellent range of color, beautiful coverage, so creamy and smooth.

  22. Martha

    Hi, could you PLEASE tell me which 77 Holbein colored pencils from your lightfast test that made the cut! I can’t tell which ones rocked just from the photo you posted. I would really appreciate it! I am a student and I can’t afford to join the CPSA to get the workbook they offer. I have a full set of Prismacolor artist grade colored pencils. They have ratings on them, I am just not sure how true those ratings are. Anyhow, I would like to know if you would buy the Caran d’Ache Luminace colored pencils and mix in other brands as well. Thanks so much.

      1. Agata

        I meant to ask about the Holbein pencils that didn’t pass the lighfastness test. I have hard time telling which ones did just by looking at the photo.

  23. nick shiroma

    I am a new to colored pencils although I’ve drawn in graphite all my life. I love the story you told of Monet. The first time I saw your work, I wanted to just break the my pencils in half and not even try. Now I use you as inspiration, thank you for being real.

  24. KateRichardson

    Hello juliepodstolski, I found your blog by chance and thought I would ask a question which make of coloured pencils do you recommend I should buy, I am a real fan of Faber-Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils, I have the lovely tin of 120.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Kate, thanks for your question. I recommend Luminace pencils by Caran d’Ache because these are the most lightfast pencils in the world. They would make a terrific companion to your Polychromos as they work well together. I have several brands of pencils but I use more Luminance in each drawing than anything else.

  25. lauraslittlecorner

    I have to thank you, because, after your words, I was encouraged to give another chance to my Pablos.
    So, I did six versions of a drawing, starting with watercolours, and, after, changing paper (Fabriano, Arches, Schoeller) and coloured pencils brands. Polychromos FC, Holbein, Pablo CdA, Uni Mitsubishi, Derwent Coloursoft.
    Yet finding Pablo and Uni Mitsubishi a little hard, I have deeply enjoyed working with them. And maybe the shades and tones, in the Pablo version, are, togheter, stronger and softer.
    So I have to thank you, Mrs Julie.
    Now, it’s up to my old Karismas and new Luminance. But, this is time for a new drawing.
    Thanks again! Your artwork is so inspiring.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hello Laura, thank you so much for your communication. I am so pleased that my words and works have been able to inspire you in your own artistic journey. This is wonderful to read. Indeed, each brand of pencils (and paper) has its own individual personality. And like all personalities, some we like more than others. We are so lucky to have choice.

  26. SueHigginsArt

    Great Blog Julie !
    I hadn’t thought of combining oil pastels with pencils, you have opened my eyes to new possibilities as a newbie to coloured pencil work.
    Thank you

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Sue, thanks for getting in touch. It makes the process more painterly, I feel, and actually more fun to do when combining the two media than just using coloured pencil by itself. I’m laying down oil pastel right now as undercoat. Doing it is so much like using oil paint. And then going over the top with pencils (later) has a satisfying feel.

  27. Ananya

    Thank you for sharing.. This helped me a lot!! I’m at learning stage and I’m an art lover. I worl in many mediums..So, when I start working in a new medium I want to know every bit which paper to use, which supplies are the best for that medium..So your post helped me a lot!! Thank you! ☺👍👍
    Great post..


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