Carrie L. Lewis, Artist

Teaching Drawing and Painting One Student at a Time

12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

For those among us who use them as our primary medium—or as one of our primary mediums—there are a lot of reasons to love colored pencils. If you’ve used them for any length of time at all, you can probably list five or six with no hesitation at all.

And I’ll wager that if each of us listed our top twelve reasons, every one of us would have at least one reason that was unique to us. That’s just human nature. And the nature of the medium.
12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils

Following are my top twelve reasons for loving colored pencils.

Why I Love Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are easy to use

Open the box, sharpen the pencils (if necessary), grab a piece of paper, and start drawing. You don’t need to prepare a painting surface, mix a palette, or—best of all—wear protective clothing.

Colored pencils are clean

You don’t have to worry about getting them on your hands, clothing, or the things around you. You won’t find traces of them some unexpected place in the house because you brushed against wet paint without knowing it and transferred that color to other parts of the house.

No drying time

One of my chief complaints about oil painting is waiting for paint to dry. That’s not a concern with colored pencil drawing.

All those luscious colors!

What artist doesn’t love color? And there are so many!

Colored pencils go everywhere

Colored pencils are easily transportable. Throw a few supplies into your field kit or a tote bag or purse (depending how big the set—or your purse—is) and you’re ready to go. Anywhere. Everywhere.

No smelly solvents (unless I want them)

I can make a beautiful drawing without having to breathe solvent fumes.

I can create a range of affects from soft focus to tight detail

Fine art colored pencils are much more versatile than the colored pencils I used in grade school. Almost everything that could be done with brush and paint can be done with colored pencils.

Colored pencils look—and work—great on so many different surfaces

We all know about drawing on paper. A lot of us have tried mat board, too. But what about sanded art papers, wood, canvas, or even Mylar? Colored pencils work on all of them and produce unique and interesting affects on each type of surface.

Nothing else captures ‘found’ texture quite as well as colored pencils

I’ve added interesting and unique textures to more than one drawing simply by laying the paper on a textured surface and lightly—or maybe not so lightly—shading over the paper. What a great way to add visual interest quickly and easily.

Colored pencils are perfect for making small format and miniature art

The thing that turns so many people away from colored pencil is the very thing that makes them ideal for small format and miniature art. The thin color core. What better medium for drawing details on artwork that’s 4×6 or less?

Bonus: You don’t need special tools…except for maybe a magnifying glass.

Colored pencils are perfect for drawing hair

Colored pencils are also fabulous for drawing hair. One of the things I love most about drawing horses is drawing those long manes and tails. I can paint a decent mane or tail with oils and very small brushes, but colored pencils are far more satisfactory.

The cat can play in my art box and I don’t have to worry about hazardous materials sticking to paws

This is important in a house with two indoor cats. Cats like to climb. Cats like to explore.

They also like to help. Years ago, one of our cats once threw himself on an oil painting while I was working on it (I work flat, by the way). I had to take time to clean the paint off the cat before repairing the damage to the painting.

That doesn’t happen with colored pencils.

That’s my list. Why do you enjoy using colored pencils?

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Carrie!

    I hope you had great holidays.

    You pretty much covered all of the reasons Colored Pencils are wonderful, but I may have one more. I’ve always had a “love affair” with pencils since age 5 and I flirted with paints but there was no “chemistry” there (to continue with the analogy). I didn’t do art for a long time due to medical issues, but rediscovered art around 2009 and discovered CP’s were not for only map coloring early in 2011 after discovering what amazing things they could do after viewing art by Christine Langman (Big Cat Art).

    Well on to the one more reason:
    I like CP’s because it feels like taking a journey with an old friend when working on a drawing. Like they say it’s the journey not the destination.

    Well take care and I look forward to your posts in the coming year.

    ~John

    • John,

      We did indeed have a very pleasant holiday season. I hope you did, too.

      I love the journey analogy!

      And I know what you mean about chemistry. I’ve used oils for a long, long time, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the neat things about colored pencils.

      Thanks for reading!

      Carrie

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