Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Colored Pencil Medium

Colored Pencil is a fine-art medium which has achieved wide acceptance from both artists and collectors. The Colored Pencil Society of America was founded in 1990, exclusively dedicated to artists working with colored pencil. It represents an international following of almost 2000 members.

Colored pencil is a brilliant, versatile, wax or vegetable oil based medium, widely used by professional artists. Translucency is the primary characteristic of the medium and it is achieved by layering one color over another. Colored pencils can be used independently or in mixed media applications with watercolor, gouache, acrylic, or pen and ink. Water soluble colored pencils mimic the effect of watercolor when applied like normal colored pencils, then dissolved with the brush.

The artist "paints" rather than "draws" in colored pencil when mixing colors on the working surface to create broad areas of varying intensity and value. Almost any surface can be used as a ground for a colored pencil painting.

Colored pencils may be applied with varying degrees of pressure to control value, intensity, and sheen. The pressure with which a color is applied determines how it affects layers previously laid down. Blending is achieved by applying areas of color that gradually overlap one another, unlike other mediums which are blended with brush, water or rubbing with a stump or finger.

Hard edges are created when colors abut one another, while soft edges are composed when areas of color overlap one another. Burnishing is another form of blending. Here, light value pencils are applied with heavy pressure over existing areas of color. The pigments are compressed into the paper or board to create the look of paint. Solvent or a colorless blender pencil are also used for this purpose.

I prefer to let the color and texture of the surface become an integral part of my paintings. This gives my work the softer look of pastels.