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Ryn Shell: Internationally acclaimed artist, formerly of Buninyong Gallery. Author of historical fiction mysteries set in Australia.
So many pencils to choose from. Why buy the best quality?
Cheaper brands of coloured pencils are made to a price, so they break more often during use, or they contain less pigment and more filler/wax, and therefore they require more layers to cover the paper, with a greater chance of the work spoiling due to a visual change called wax bloom—also called “efflorescence”.
Other brands (Derwent for example) are notorious for having many colours that fade. Professional artists owe it to their clients to only use lightfast pigments. Caran d'Ache brand has the most lightfast and highly pigmented pencils in their Museum (watercolour) Pablo and Luminance range. As price goes down, so does the amount of pigment in each pencil. That might not matter for play pencils, but it does affect your ability to produce professional standard work.
I'm the nasty person who snipped these Karisma Colour Pencils 72 on eBay, out of the reach of the established bidder. I will use these for underpainting. My pencil collection is growing. I plan to add the Caran d'Ache Pablo to my existing Luminance pencils next and then the Museum Aquarelle. My math says that by the time you throw out all the non permanent pigments in the cheaper to initially buy brands and calculate that the densely pigmented pencils I'm buying have been reviewed to go further on the paper, have more covering power, and the pencils take longer to wear down with use, it might be a case of the cheapest pencils being the most costly, unless you are a hobby artist without high expectations of the medium and an intention to use your art materials full-time.
Karisma was a more densely pigmented pencil than Prismacolors. Prismacolors bought Karisma out, dropped the use of the Karisma name, and used some aspects of their colour range with LESS pigment in the pencil, more filler and cheaper manufacturing process, and called their professional range of coloured pencil Prismacolour Premier.
The pencils are similar, but the Karisma is of professional standard pigment intensity, which is why I tracked down the no longer made Karisma over the made to a price, Prismacolour. The only thing that I haven't found out about Karisma, through my research, is the lightfastness, so I'll not trust them for other than web illustration work, unless I can get hold of lightfastness documentation. I'll let you know if I get that.
Thank you to all the coloured pencil artists for your valuable advice about pencil supplies.
I've ordered the full sets of Caran d'Ache Pablo and Museum ranges of professional, lightfast pencils, to go with my new sets of Luminance and Karisma (like Prismacolor colour soft only superior quality and higher pigmentation) and my many existing full sets, and well used and loved, pastel pencils.
I think that I'm up-to-date with any upgrading my pencil requirements. I also bought the full Copic pen (and some there good brands) range recently and will be experimenting in combining alcohol ink and pencils, pastel pencils and colouring pencils, watercolours and pencils. Watercolour pencils with colouring pencils, along with using my author traditional art mediums which I'll not be combining with colouring pencils.
I'm fortunate in that I have a life time's supply of quality papers. so, for now, I'm done with working out what I needed to add to my studio supplies. It is time to work!
I'm the one who purchased the expensive red, anniversary edition Caran d'Ache pencil sharpener. You asked me to report on that I thought of it.
It is solid steel body, and superb in functionality. I've no regrets. My last pencil sharpener of its type had been a plastic Brynzeel model and it lasted me twenty years. If I get as much use from my new pencil sharpener I'll be happy.
If I still feel that I need any coloured pencils with this set-up, I would add the 150 set of Holdien Artist coloured pencils for a wider range of colours that will layer well with Pablo.
I intend to work in layers. softest to hardest, hence the diversity of pencils.
I will earn back the cost of this equipment through art sales. I'll also use these supplies in demonstration videos, although I won't post those here. I came here to learn about equipment, and I have. Thank you.
My Pink Patio Roses, reference: Painting from life-as I prefer. This is the block in stage (stage 2 of 4 painting stages I progress through) completed, using Caran d'Ache Pablo, Karisma and the Caran d'Ache Luminance on 14.2 cm x 10.8 cm 110 lb, 12.5 points thick, semi-gloss paper.
Sorry, I don't know the brand as I've had this in stock in my studio for years and it isn't watermarked. I believe it is acid free and 100% rag content.
I'm still discovering this coloured pencil medium. This was my first use of the Pablo.
If you recall, my first reactions to the Luminance pencil was that I didn't like using them. I felt similarly when I make a few pencil works with the Karisma. I so preferred a pencil of the Carbothello pastel type, and I felt little motivation to do coloured pencil work—until the Pablos arrived.
What I instantly loved about the Pablos was the colour range.
Then, I enjoyed the creamy and more bendable texture of Pablo.
Luminance showed its qualities for highlight work on top of Pablo.
Karisma, I've not warmed to as yet, and, not knowing their lightfastness I never intended to use them for final original work.
No, I'm not looking to sell the pencils that I don't like personally, I'm a professional artist and all my art materials will be valuable for demonstration work and for teaching what students may achieve working with various pencil styles and painting techniques. Also, I've barely scratched the surface of working with these styles of coloured pencils. I've much still to learn about them and many experiments that I plan to try with all of the professional brands.
Further comments on the Caran d'Ache pencil sharpener. Brilliant. My Brynzeel sharpener of the same style had lasted me twenty-five years of use with graphite and pastel pencils. My new, red, Caran d'Ache pencil sharpener is superior. It disassembles and reassembles easily for maintenance work.
My next coloured pencil work will be a wolf painting, to try all three pencil styles out on fur.
What I don't like about my current use of coloured pencils, after coming to them last in a long art career. This painting of roses is too realist. I feel nothing for it. It just represents a copying my roses exercise that involved only time and proving I have my eye in to see shapes and tones—nothing more. I feel that I've expressed no artistry, I've only copied something, and I see that as a craft, a learned skill, not art. I might as well have taken a photo.
I want to instantly see that a work is an artistic creation.
Still, I learned a lot about how not to use coloured pencils with this rose block in. For my next coloured pencil artwork, I plan for the medium, the pencil marks, to be a visible part of the final work.
It was a good relaxing afternoon spent painting one of my patio roses. In completing this work I'll be seeking to break up the realist look of the background and middle distance and push it back toward impressionism. The grass bowl and foreground also needs developing—but not with this emotionless realism, can't tell what medium I'm using, bland, lifeless style. I'll push on and try to make this 'pop,' and look like an artwork.
This is only my second coloured pencil work, and only a few hours in, I generally expect a miniature to take me ten hours, so, given most people here spoke of how slow the coloured pencil medium was to use, I didn't expect to have the block in completed in an afternoon.
This dog portrait was my first use of my Caran d'Ache Luminescence pencils.
This pink roses pencil painting is my second work using Caran d'Ache professional watercolour pencils.
I'm building my art tuition online courses through video, and I had wanted to share that I do love the Pablo pencils.
Between the three coloured pencil ranges I bought, which together cost around the AU$1000. mark, and could easily have cost 50% more had I not compared prices and carefully chosen where to buy, I was able to find every tone and shade I desired. I found it easy to mix colours using the Pablos, and that's the main reason I preferred them, through mixing colour opposites to achieve realistic shadows, I achieved natural and luminous greys.
If I were to start again, I'd get the Pablo pencil first with the addition of the Luminance white, and I'd have spent the remainder of my money on other supplies, rather than the Karisma or the set of Luminance. Well, that's just my evaluation, and still with minimal experience in using the work, and so far only on watercolour papers. I have Bristol board arriving in the mail soon, and the Karisma and Luminance my be more user-friendly, to me, on that.
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