Blending Colored Pencil with Painting Solvents

Blending Colored Pencil with Painting Solvents

Last week’s article was a tutorial showing how I blended colors in a background with rubbing alcohol. In that post, I mentioned that the method also worked for other solvents, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about blending colored pencil with painting solvents.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I don’t often blend colored pencils with solvents of any kind. I much prefer the look of a drawing when the blending has been accomplished by layering.

Read more about dry blending.

But there are times when blending with a solvent of some kind is the prudent thing to do. Maybe I’m short of time or the effect I want can be accomplished no other way.

Since I began my artistic career as an oil painter, it was natural to try my painting solvents for blending colored pencil work. Do you know what? They really do work!

The Painting Solvents I Use and Why

The two painting solvents I use most often with colored pencil are turpentine and odorless paint thinner. At the moment, I have plenty of turpentine (I used to buy it by the quart when I was painting), so that’s what I use.

I use turpentine because after years of using it with oil painting, I know how it behaves. I know what to expect and am comfortable with it.

It also is capable of producing very richly saturated color if there’s plenty of color on the paper when I blend. Turpentine breaks down the binder so well that colors become almost liquefied and blend together much like paint does.

But you….

Have to have a lot of color on the paper, and…

Let the drawing dry thoroughly before adding more color. I usually let my drawings sit over night.

Odorless mineral spirits are the same as odorless paint thinner. Don’t be fooled, though. Just because a solvent is odorless doesn’t mean its non-toxic. Keep containers closed and sealed when not in use.

In fact, a little painting solvent goes a long way, so consider buying small bottles.

Additional Reading

This is EmptyEasel link article day, so I’ll close with a link to an article I wrote some time ago: How to “Paint” with Colored Pencils and Turpentine.


    1. Ignacio,

      Odorless mineral spirits is great for blending colored pencils and it’s a great way to get very dark dark colors. In fact, I have a “finished” piece with a black background that I’m considering work over with either odorless mineral spirits or turpentine to deepen the background.


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