Tricks and Troubleshooting…

  1. Rubber shelf liners are perfect to lay under your work area.  The rubber like quality will keep your pencils from rolling in the floor and breaking.
  2. When your lead is broken in the shaft.  you can wrap the pencil in a paper towel and microwave for a few seconds at a time.  When your pencil is very warm to the touch, lay the pencil to the side until the wax/oil hardens.  (the broken pieces will melt and harden back in to one piece)
  3. Can’t find that perfect colored paper?  Simply paint your white paper with a watercolor wash for custom colors.  You may need to do a test on scrap to make sure your paper doesn’t buckle.
  4. Always wear a max when working with solvents and in a well ventilated area.  Even if the solvent is odorless the chemicals are still in the air.
  5. Dust off your pencil after every sharpening to avoid smearing the color dust on your work.
  6. Workable fixative will add more tooth to your paper.
  7. Unless the drawing aspect of your painting is off, keep going no matter how bad you think it looks.  The painting will have  ugly stages. It is during the ugly stages when most  gives up. DON’T ! Keep going until you are either satisfied or have no more tooth left to work with.  I have to remind myself of this constantly, with any medium.
  8. If you lose you whites, you can go over that area with a little gouache or a white Stabilo pencil. Be aware!  If you use these methods, your piece becomes a mixed media for contests in most cases.
  9. If your pencil is too short, super glue your pencil stump  to a longer colored pencil of the same color.
  10. I learned this lesson the hard way!  If have to trim a brand new pencil, make sure the color the number and color is on the opposite end of where you are sharpening.


I hope you have enjoyed this little mini series. I certainly enjoyed sharing.   If you want to learn anything that I glazed over, it can be found easily on the internet.    Best of Luck in Colored Pencil endeavors!

Other Lessons:

Color Wheel and Color Theory

Techniques 1

Techniques 2

Mixing Colors

Mapping Color

More on Colored Pencils

Be Well and Happy!

More on Colored Pencils.



Lightfastness is how fast the colors lose their vibrancy and fade due to chemical breakdown in direct sunlight.  Most if not all colored pencil manufacturer’s have some pencils colors that are more robust and handle the sunlight better others.  Some artists will choose pencils that are more lightfast.  All mediums stand the risk of fading as well as anything exposed to UV rays.  My opinion is, anything with any pigment or dyes exposed to the direct sunlight will fade over time, so I don’t concern myself too much.

To aid in preventing your art from fading, Don’t hang your art near windows and doors. OR Make a print of your art and store the original in dark, dry place at room temperature.

Wax Bloom

Wax Bloom is the oxidation of the wax creating a white cast of film over your completed art.  To combat this:  First wipe your art down with a dry soft cloth and spray with a fixative.

Next week will be the last post in this series. Below, you see prompts for you to color map and paint.  It is not necessary to use my prompts.  Walk around your home.  Choose simple items in color and design, paint the items in your purse, tool bag, or junk drawer.  Choose anything, everything.

  1. leaf
  2. light bulb
  3. tree bark
  4. your favorite beverage
  5. all or part of a remote
  6. your front door
  7. a tube of lipstick / chap stick
  8. a tool
  9. a kitchen utensil
  10. a cookie
  11. sunglasses
  12. gloves
  13. jewelry
  14. a child’s toy
  15. a coaster
  16. a candle
  17. purse / wallet
  18. comb
  19. a colored pencil
  20. breakfast food
  21. favorite keepsake
  22. snack
  23. hairbrush
  24. a book
  25. nail file

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be proficient in mapping color.  It may be a pain, but it is so easy and helps you stay quite a few steps ahead of the game.

Other Lessons:

Color Wheel and Color Theory

Techniques 1

Techniques 2

Mixing Colors

Mapping Color


Until Next Week….

Be Well and Happy!

Mapping Color

When we buy a colored pencil technique book, we expect great things.  This book will answer all our questions, solve all of our issues and by the end we WILL be as good (if not better) than the author.  Then we go through book, screw up a few traced exercises then curse, scream and set the book on fire!  Well, no… not really but if you have worked with the demos, you have wanted to.    I have learned some great tricks in colored pencil,  but what I am saying is that you should not the last half of these books to teach you how to paint in colored pencil.  Teach yourself.

Let me go on record saying, “I love my colored pencil books and don’t see them as a waste of money. But authors have been painting for years and years before they had their very own book published. Those exercises are just too difficult for the novice.”

It took a long time for me to figure out that in trying to paint those demos, what I was actually doing was trying to replicate the “style” of the artist. I was learning nothing, and if by chance I did complete a demo, I could not paint another using my own reference.  I don’t know about you but I’m not a protégé of one the old masters.  I don’t want to waste time studying their style of art to crank out pieces…or not able to crank out anything.

Out of all the mediums, colored pencil is the most difficult to manipulate because it is pushed to the very boundaries of its capability.  Colored pencil is not an easy medium to learn, but with a little planning you can be more confident in your endeavor.

Do you remember when you were in high school and the Geography teacher made you draw and color key maps?  You know, color green, the region whose cash crop is peas and make the lakes blue…yada yada yada…..Painting in color pencil is similar to those maps, but only more intricate.

I am going to assume that you can draw a little bit, but even if you can’t this exercise should be fairly easy.

Below is a plastic heart that I found in my daughter’s room.  I chose this subject because it simple in design, it is bright but only has few colors.  It will also be your reference and your only demo (ish) in the series.




As you can see, this line drawing is a little messy. I have a couple of smudges and eraser marks. These mars would be fine if I were drawing.  But in colored pencil,  the pencil marks would show up through the wax pencil and impossible to erase.  You can solve this by transferring your drawing on clean paper and in a few different ways using:  a projector, light box, graphite paper,  or simply taping your drawing to a window (during full sun)  with a clean paper overlay.  Use very light strokes just dark enough for you to see where the color goes. An even better solution is to use the basic color of your reference to outline the drawing (red heart=red or pink pencil)

  ****Just to be safe, always transfer your drawing!

Mapping Color

heart1 heart map

Mapping color is when separate the different colors and/or color changes in your drawing.  As your color changes within the same object you would use the graduation method using circular strokes in light layers to block in color. The more thorough you are in mapping out color the more realistic your art will be.

Above is the drawing with my colors mapped out.  The picture on the right is the same as the left but drawn in ink to make the heart more visible.

Color Choice Legend

From the numbered drawing above on right

1.) This indicates where my light source is coming from (top left almost center) and is called the highlight.  The highlight is the lightest part of the painting because that is where the light is concentrated.  Some artists go from painting the light colors first and the darks last, and others do the opposite.  Just paint what you feel confident with, but remember lighter mistakes are easier to erase.

2.) Is a darker value of base color.  The object is on a curve and it isn’t receiving as much light The lack of light causes a shadow because the light has move around the object.

3.) Is the graduation of the  darker base color and in to the overall color you choose for the heart.

4.) Is the reflected light and it indicates the shape of the object as the light curves around that area.

5.) Is a shadow.

6.)It’s the shadow’s edge.  Is a lighter hued shadow, but still a shadow

7.) Is the cast shadow and is the darkest area of the drawing.

8.)  The light can reach further around the object but  is still casting a light shadow of the true color of the heart.

***Whatever isn’t labeled, is the true overall color of your heart.

Blocking In Color

Blocking in color is the laying down of color in a very light layer indicating where you want the colors to go.  For example: I would paint in the shadow using a very light cloud blue or a gray to indicate where my shadow would go.  And after I mixed my red, I would use the lightest hue for the overall heart, and the darkest hue for the heart’s shadow.  I would save the highlights for last so I could burnish into the very white of the highlight.

This Weeks Lesson:

Draw this heart. Don’t draw the heart too big or too small.  If drawn too big, you will spend too much time on this and if you mess up, you will be too frustrated to try it again.  If drawn to small, you have a hard time navigating your way through will result in more frustration.

Then, after all of this and you are still wanting more?  Mix color chips and use the one and two color graduation.

Other Lessons:

Color Wheel and Color Theory

Techniques 1

Techniques 2

Mixing Colors


Be Well and Happy!

Techniques Part 1

I hope this finds you a little better acquainted with your colored pencils and getting accustomed with how they perform.  This lesson is as exciting as the last, but just a necessary.  This week we will go over holding your pencil and common colored pencil strokes.

Holding Your Pencil

The way you hold your pencil affects the way write, so it would be safe to assume that it will affect the way you draw.  I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to hold your pencil, but changing the grip changes the style of your art.

No matter what grip you choose, I do find that holding your pencil in relaxed manner will help your avoid sore hands and wrists.

Below is a few ways to hold your pencil:


1.)  Overhand grip:  With this position, you are gripping the pencil with the forefinger and thumb while the pencil is resting on your middle finger.  The pencil point is on its side as it strikes the paper.   The strokes are made with the motion of the wrist.  This grip is for heavier markings.

2.)   Underhand grip:  With this position, you are gripping the pencil with your thumb as it lays in the between the index and middle finger.  The pencil point is again, is on its side as it strikes the paper.  The strokes are made with the motion of the arm.  I find this grip awkward and uncomfortable.

3.)  The “writers” grip:  The most commonly used and with this position, you hold the pencil as you would write.  The pencil is gripped with the forefinger and thumb while the shaft rests between those two fingers.  The pencil point can be on its side and directly on the point as it strikes the paper.   The strokes can be made with the motion of the  wrist as well as the arm.  This position is the most common because it gives the artist more control and precision.

close gripfurther back

If you position you hand closer to the end of the shaft, you have more control and precision, but heavier strokes (darker markings).  The further up the shaft you place your grip gives you less control and precision, but lighter stroke (lighter markings). 

Colored Pencil Points




A sharp pencil point  when applied,  saturates color through the texture of the paper.  Sharpening your pencil often, usually every minute or so, will keep work precise as well as saturated with color.

A blunt pencil point when applied,  allows the texture of the paper showing through.  You will be able to see specks of the paper through the pencil.

Colored Pencil Pressure

P Pressue (1)

Colored pencil is a translucent medium.  by changing the pressure on your pencil, you can make three varying degrees of color

Light – tints the paper

Medium – excellent for layering

Heavy –  flatten the paper tooth

Colored Pencil Strokes

P Pressue (2)

1.) Hatching – Are lines parallel  to each other whether vertical or horizontal. Can be different weights of lines, unevenly spaced and the changing of colors.

2.) Cross hatching – Is the same as hatching but the lines cross over each other in different directions.

3.) Circular– The stroke is more oblong than circular and the most commonly used.  These overlapping circular strokes are the easiest way to achieve even color.  Keep your oblong small and your pencil points sharp.

4.) Linear – Layer in one direction, keeping lines close together. Stagger the line length or you will have bars of uneven color. Make sure that pencil point is sharp.

5.) Scumbling – “brillo pad”  interlocking squiggles.  This stroke is uneven and creates interesting textures.

In this weeks lesson you will need to draw a series of squares of different sizes and fill them with different colored pencil strokes using different points as well as pressures. Practice makes perfect so draw plenty!

Until next week….

Be Well and Happy!