The majority of my artwork to date has been created in acrylics and it is a medium I love and I feel skilled in its execution. So when I received some beautiful Caran D’Ache Geneve Luminance coloured pencils for Christmas, I was delighted to explore a brand new medium to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used coloured pencils before as a child, but always found that I couldn’t achieve the detail I was looking for in my art work.

Ferrari of the Coloured Pencil World!

Well, that was before I was introduced to the Ferrari of the coloured pencil world! They feel different. A comforting, solid weight, with a feeling of looseness and yet refined intricacy. The leads are smooth and permanent and the colours are vibrant, deep and well, as the name implies; luminescent.

Another thing which is different and new to me when using these pencils, is the techniques. I made the big mistake of assuming that, as a medium, the techniques required to achieve quality results using coloured pencils, are non-complex. I thought that because the artist is provided with many different individual colours and therefore isn’t required to mix pigments and colours to form new shades and tones, that it must be really simple to create a good drawing. That is partly true, as anyone can pick up and draw with a pencil, however, it is how you draw with them that makes all the difference.

Colours, Colours and More Colours

What I mean is, I have discovered that the best way to create depth and a sense of realism to say, the long facial hairs of a donkey, you must build the layers little by little using quite a large colour spectrum of pencils to create ‘one colour’. For the donkey in question, I used browns, greys, purples, yellows, black and blues – Slate Grey, Cassel Earth, Burnt Sienna, Paynes Grey, Brown Ochre, Burnt Ochre, Violet Brown, Prussian Blue, Black and Naples Ochre – to create the overall ‘dark drown’ (bay) coat colour.

I usually add highlights last when painting in acrylics, however, I soon discovered that the best course of action with coloured pencils is to leave the highlighted areas blank (if using white or pale paper).

Preparation First, Fewer Errors Later

I also learned that the original pencil sketch must be to the correct scale and dimensions as, if you go wrong with the width of the animals jaw, or the size of its eye, or the length of its ears, there is no going back with pencils. You can’t rub them out. You can’t colour over them, the way you would paint over a section in a painting. There is very little room for error. That, in itself, is pretty daunting! I think preparation is the key.

You can find out more about Caran D’Ache pencils and other products here.

If you’re interested in commissioning a pencil drawing of your pet or your favourite animal, please contact me and we can discuss your requirements further. 🙂