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 drawings. Some of my drawings are 100% coloured pencils while others use wax/oil crayons combined with coloured pencils.
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.
As well as single sheets, Arches Aquarelle is available in blocks of 20 sheets. Below is the largest size block (18 x 24 inches).
“Sunrise Reflected” is drawn on a page from the Arches Aquarelle 18 x 24 inch 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.] http://www.cpsa.org
A brand of pencils which has the highest light-fast rating throughout its whole colour range is Luminance 6901 made by Caran d’Ache. I adore this pencil!
24 new Luminance colours have been released in July 2020. There used to be 76 colours but from July 2020 there are 100 colours.
See the colour chart of the full 100 Luminance colours at the bottom of this page.
One colour worth its weight in gold is No. 639 Dark Indigo. It is a very intense and dark blue, as dark as black. Black, as we know, can muddy-up or dull other colours whatever your medium is; paint, pastel or pencil. Dark Indigo may now be used instead of black. It is rich and such a CLEAN dark colour that it is perfect to either layer with or use on its own. It enriches any colour it touches, adding to its lustre rather than subtracting from it as is black’s wont.
I use a pencil extender to lengthen my pencil so that I can use it in a painterly loose way rather like a paint brush. A good pencil extender is made by Generals. Generals ‘The Miser’ Pencil Extender
In late 2019 I found an extender made by Caran d’Ache called the Fixpencil 0012. It holds Neocolor and coloured pencils. It is a beautiful tool, comfortable to hold and not at all heavy.
A bristle brush, the type you use for oil painting, is excellent for blending coloured pencils. In the drawing “A Room with a View” I used 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.
Coloured pencils and oil pastels work beautifully together to make strong vibrant mixed media drawings. To read about my technique using oil pastels and coloured pencils together, please see the post Brush and Pencil.
(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
“Step by Step”(below) is drawn with a mix of coloured pencils and Neocolor 2.
You might like to see how I use Neocolor with coloured pencils. The information explained in the post called Perfect Partners: Neocolor and Luminance
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.
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.
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.
If you would like to read about using white in the creation of luminous colours read the post “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 Kadmium.com.au or phone: +61 (0)2 9212 2669
The following is a list of suppliers’ and manufacturers’ websites:
Caran d’Ache: www.carandache.com – 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.com.au 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 www.mes.net.au 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.
TheArtshop.com.au in Melbourne has a huge range of materials including Caran d’Ache. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website theartshop.com.au
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
With the 24 new Luminance colours out in July 2020, here is the colour chart of full 100 colours.