Every artist who has ever picked up a colored pencil with the intent of creating art is familiar with the variety and number of challenges of colored pencils.
But let’s face it. For those of us who are die-hard colored pencil artists, the challenges of using colored pencils are part of their charm!
I’ve been making art with colored pencils for over twenty years. They’ve challenged my will, my problem-solving skills, and my discipline more times than I care to admit.
It often seems like every drawing presents a new challenge of some kind.
The Challenges of Colored Pencils
Here, in no particular order, are some of the challenges of colored pencils I’ve discovered (and sometimes overcome.)
Do you know what search engine word is used most often in bringing people to this blog? Blending.
And do you know why? Because it’s so difficult!
Colored pencils blend beautifully by layering one color over another. That’s because they’re translucent. You can see through the various layers no matter how many layers are on the paper. All those colors combine to make new colors and it can be glorious!
But it’s also time-consuming (see the next item.)
So artists are always looking for better, newer, and faster ways to blend. Some are great. Odorless mineral spirits and powder blender, for example.
But there is now and probably always will be an avid search for the perfect blending method because blending colored pencils is such a challenge for so many!
Especially blending methods that are faster or more thorough than simply layering.
Let’s face it. Using the words “speed” and “colored pencils” together is rather like pairing “speed” and “turtle” in the same sentence. The thought just doesn’t compute.
Colored pencils are a slow medium. There’s no way around it. Even with solvent blending, it can take weeks to complete a large, complex piece. Think about it. You still have to put color on the paper one stroke at a time.
And it’s not like you can make bigger strokes by using a bigger pencil. Colored pencils aren’t like brushes. There isn’t a “wash” pencil, for example. No #20 colored pencil or a half-inch shader pencil.
Colored pencils are all like #000 Liners. Made for fine details. Not broad washes!
If you’re going to use colored pencils, you have to be prepared for s-l-o-w.
The fine artists among us are concerned not only with creating great pieces, but creating pieces that look just as bright and vibrant in twenty years or more as they look the day they’re finished.
That can be a challenge depending on the pencils you buy and the colors you use.
You see, some colors are fading by nature. Pinks and purples are notoriously bad for fading across almost all brands. There are a few brands with light fast pinks and purples, but they’re the more expensive brands.
While some brands of pencils are more reliable, with fewer fading colors, they all have some colors that are less permanent.
Finding ways to work with those colors and minimize potential damage is one challenge facing many colored pencil artists.
Finding ways to work without those colors, is the challenge for many of us.
Framing is another challenge for a lot of colored pencil artists. Because colored pencils are usually used on paper, the artwork needs to be protected. The means a rigid back board to protect the artwork from behind, and glass or something similar to protect it from the front.
You want a spacer between artwork and glass, so that also means at least one mat and sometimes two or even three.
Then there’s the frame.
All of that costs money, especially if you’re framing for an exhibit. The challenge here is finding the right balance between a professional frame and a reasonable cost.
Selling any kind of artwork can be a challenge. Most of the time, it’s not what most people consider “necessary,” so if finances are tight, art is among the first things to go.
Selling colored pencil art can have additional charges if all people think of when they hear “colored pencil” is grade school.
And then there’s the added cost of special framing (see above.)
Selling any kind of art is a challenge, but selling colored pencil art sometimes seems to have its own unique set of challenges.
What About You?
Those are a few of the challenges of colored pencils that have confronted me over the years. Maybe your biggest challenge is on that list.
Or maybe it’s something else altogether? If so, share your biggest challenge in the comments below. Maybe someone else can show you how to overcome it!