Friday, September 26, 2014

wip update, yay for scribbling and boo to Prismacolor

Newsletter day for my TMS Newsletter is my usual Friday post offering up an excerpt:

I can’t believe it is Friday already! Tomorrow my CP Basics students return for another day of working their pencils. We had so much fun last Saturday that I can’t wait to have them here again.

This week I am sharing an update on my work in progress and I am sharing some of my dissatisfaction with Prismacolor. (Don’t you hate it when companies change things and not for the better?) I also have a great link to some awesome and very different coloured pencil art. You are going to want to check this out.

First up, I am going to show you how my mixed media piece turned out. In case you missed last week’s newsletter, here is how it looked in the beginning:

I worked on a sanded, coloured paper and along with my coloured pencils I also used Caran d’Ache’s Neocolors II, which are water soluble wax pastels (I used them dry and don’t be confused by the word pastel, they behave like oil pastels, not like chalky pastels - not trying to offend pastel users, I know they aren’t ‘chalk’ LOL and if you haven’t tried oil pastels, think of the crayons you used as a kid – that will give you the idea.)
Here is how it looks now.

Coloured Pencil and Neocolors II, 6 ¾ inches x 7 ¼ inches, on Mi-Teintes Touch paper, copyright Teresa Mallen


As I mentioned last week, this sort of piece is just out and out fun. I play with simple shapes and lines, I use my favourite colours and I get to work quickly.

And now I am bored and I am craving a drawing challenge!

I know coloured pencil artists can get a tad militant about their favourite brand of pencil yet I like all sorts of brands. For working on sanded papers, I really like
Derwent Colorsoft pencils.Their leads are a bit thicker which works well for the sort of art that I tend to do on sanded paper, i.e. there is usually less depiction of detail. They are a ‘soft’ pencil yet they stand up well to a sanded surface (the pigment doesn’t flake off) and the colours look absolutely yummy, very rich. I used Derwent Colorsofts in this piece, along with the Neocolor II pastels.


Boo to Prismacolor:When teaching, I ask my students to bring Prismacolor pencils. They are readily available in North America which makes them easier for beginners to purchase. Ottawa doesn’t have a lot of selection when it comes to art supply stores so for other pencil brands such as Caran d’Ache’s Luminance, we have shop on-line.

Anyway, after last Saturday’s class, I have discovered a couple of unpleasant things about Prismacolor. First up, they are now selling their sets with already sharpened pencils. And yuck, they are doing a horrible job of sharpening. If you work in cps, you know how important the right pencil point is to achieving the best effects possible.

Prior to our first class, I sent my students an article I had written about how to care for their new pencils. I talked quite a bit about how important sharpeners were, what blades to look for etc. After all of that prep, these folks got saddled with badly sharpened pencils in their new pencil sets.

Prismacolor took off the cedar casing but they left a fat stub of a tip, pretty much a dull pencil. Very weird looking.
What if you didn’t have someone to tell you that such a stub is just not the way to work? Sheesh...

I thought it was bad back when Prismacolor included a pathetic little hand sharpener – which my students would unwittingly use, thinking that if the manufacturer included it, it must be the best sharpener for their new pencils. The right sharpener is soooo important! I could seriously start to rant here...

Second problem with Prismacolor, their 60 pencil set no longer contains the 48!
What???!!! How silly is this? To keep things as economical as possible, I only require the 48 pencil set for my CP Basics course. One student bought a larger set only to find that she was missing some of the 48 set pencils. Since when did Prismacolor decide that the larger sets should no longer build on the smaller sets? The 24 used to have the 12 set of pencils plus 12 more. The 48 used to contain the 24 set and then even more pencils and so on.

As we worked on our exercises, this student found that she didn’t have all of the pencils that were required yet she had a set that included 12 more pencils than the other students who had the 48 set. Grrrrr...

I shall be writing Prismacolor a letter of complaint.

Perhaps I should mention their ‘improved’ website. It is harder to navigate and you can no longer print off a simple colour chart of your pencil set which was handy for when you wanted to buy more pencils from open stock. You could see which pencils you already owned and then buy colours you didn’t have.
I noticed Derwent provides a downloadable PDF colour chart!

Seriously folks, how hard can it be for corporations to actually think of their customer’s needs? As a small biz owner, it is a major focus of my time and attention!

It can be so frustrating when changes like the ones mentioned above occur. I am still disappointed that my local art supply store decided to no longer carry Art Spectrum’s Colourfix paper – which is my favourite brand of sanded pastel paper.

So what do you do when your favourite art materials get changed on you and not for the better? FYI, stomping around the studio and muttering curse words under your breath doesn’t accomplish much. :-)


On a more cheery note, here is some art that will inspire you...

It is fresh and bright and how could anyone resist squiggly lines and oodles of scribbling?

In last week’s newsletter, I encouraged you to push the boundaries of what you comfortably do in your medium. This chap definitely works on the edge of what most people would be comfortable attempting with cps.

Here is a link to some seriously unique scribbling done in cps, by artist John Smolko: Do have a look around his gallery page. I think you will be impressed.

I was delighted to see an article John wrote about his process published in the October 2014 issue of ‘the Artist’s Magazine’. You can find it on newsstands now.

Here is a photo I took of art done by John Smolko at the
Colored Pencil Society of America’s International Exhibition, held in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2009.

This grainy pic gives you a sense of scale, of just how big John works. And (insert squeal) the picture on the top right is my Swiss Chard Mosaic. Yup, somebody pinch me.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." Thomas Merton

Until next Friday, I hope you are super busy making some fun art – why not try scribbling?!

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