YOU TEND TO GET THE QUALITY YOU PAY FOR …………But sometimes you don’tOver the last year or so I have noted the arrival on the UK market of a wide range of low price coloured pencils - both watercolour and waxy.These are often imported from Eastern Asia but on many occasions it is impossible to tell where they come from unless you buy the product and investigate the small print on the tin or box.Many times these come with glowing reports on the internet from people who have purchased them. This can be no true guide as to quality for serious art use as you don’t know what the skills are of the people reporting.A common price point here on the Internet is around £25 for a set of 72 colours.or 30 pence each if you account for the tin.Compare this with the £3 a pencil list price for the top of the range brands.A new arrival in recent months has been the White Nights watercolour pencil sets marketed in the UK by the SAA group. These are from a reputable USSR manufacturer who has been producing good watercolours for many years. I have indulged in a set to see if they are as good as the watercolours the company is famed for. I find that they are certainly nothing special and have one or two annoying featuresI have included my test in the brands section.
New Items on the market
NEWS and QUERIES
12th September 2018
AS PART OF THE CARAN D’ACHE 30th Anniversary celebrations for the Supracolor brand of watercolour pencils, they have issued some rather nice ( and expensive) wooden box sets, but the big news for me is the 30th ANNIVERSARY EXTRA COLOURS SETOne of the facts of life with Supracolor aquarelles was that they were ideal for Landscape artists with a super range of greens and browns, but when compared with their nearest competitor, Faber Castell, they were poorer on the reds and yellows.But then Faber Castell were not as good on the greens and browns !I should hasten to say that the 120 range isn’t at all bad, it is just that there are fewer reds and yellows than one might like.The developers at CDA have brought out a box of 30 extra colours to celebrate the 30th anniversary and guess what ? They have a nice collection of the colours to bring what is now a 150 colour range close to perfect.
DERWENT LIGHTFAST COLOURED PENCILSDerwent have released this new line for sale in the UK from the end of June. Initially 36 colours in the set but more will be added to the range as testing is completed. The aim is for all the colours in the range to be lightfast to ASTMS highest level (LF1).There are several reviews on the Internet and all seem quite positive with some misgivings over the recommended retail price ( between £2.50 and £3 per pencil - making them among the dearest on the market ). I haven’t seen the pencils yet, and will comment further when I get my hands on some.The price may not prove a barrier to some artists, but at the moment the small size of the set and the high price does not enable them to compete head to head with CDA Luminance who offer a set of 76 - ( though not all Luminance are ASTMS LF1.)The other brand offering lightfastness across the brand is the Talens Van Gogh CP set, though Talens state that they comply with ASTMS lightfastness grades, they are not specific as to the exact LF grades , but our own tests indicated a good standard and the pencils come in at around £1.20 each.An interesting developmentUpdated Sept 8th 2018
The set makes a good selection on its own, but the coloursare all additional to the standard 120 and we get two sepiasas well as some very desireable additions. I believe that stock is limited and you may need to hunt around for supplies. In the UK, Jacksons Art say they expectmore stock early in October. Recommended retail in the UK is £75 for the 30 pencil set, and Jacksons list them at£63 ( when they get them ). If you use Supracolor these will be a ‘must’
From time to time, information is added here which covers events and products that may be of interest. The items may only be here for a short time and usually also contain links to more information elsewhere. Information is not archived and is deleted when removed, so if you are interested in an item, please make a note. Thank You
Posted here September 22nd
13th NOVEMBER 2018I have done some updating to the SURFACES SECTION which has been an area overdue for attention. The original pages included some paper testing, mainly on typical Wax Pencil sufaces. Whilst I still include the paper tests done a couple of years ago, I am undecided whether there is a need to do similar tests on Watercolour pencil surfaces and Pastel pencil surfaces. If there is a need, let me know. If no one contacts me I will assume there is no demand.
13th December 2018As usual around this time of year we see a lot of new products appearing and this year a number of new products from companies not usually seen in the Coloured Pencil world. I note sets of wax type and watercolour pencils branded as Winsor & Newton are advertised and promoted in set sizes from 12 up to 48, for CP and up to 24 for aquarelles. Priced at around £1 a pencil from a company not usually known as a pencil manufacturer, these pencil ranges & products have been produced in Vietnam for Winsor & Newton. I no longer try to test all new products announced, but my friend Ivor Harrison of the Art Gear Guide has tested themand suggests that they are a good student pencil. He has a few niggles over presentation and the lack of details of pigments and lightfastness grades but feels the overall quality to be good Winsor & Newton are part of a large International art products group and one would expect a new line made for them to be of good quality. This is not always so, but should be in this case. I suspect that if they were of European manufacture, the cost would be higher.Ivor’s full test report is on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzDhjpRfEYE&feature=youtu.be
A collection of pointers to new items on the site ( or old items revised ).The newer items are at the top
Watercolour Pencil TutorialsI have had one or two requests to bring forward the Venetian canal tutorial from the archived site.Rather than simply cut and paste the many tutorial pages from the old site, I have revised the notesand brought forward the tutorial on just the Derwent Watercolour Pencil version.Remember that this major exercise was carried out in early 2017 and involved me working along with several readers of the site on three versions of a single picture.The notes were written as we went along and you can see the points at whichthings went adrift and were corrected. Not all the pictures proved to be masterpieces, but the Derwent one proved to be a success.There are now three extra long pages following the exercisewhich many of you may find helpfulThe three navigation buttons below take you to each of the three pages
February 4th 2019
5th FEBRUARY 2019
Two bits of excitement already this month1/ The section on how to compare brands has finally been revised and reset after 18 months of messing about, with a first test that never got off the ground.A much simpler test is demonstrated whch should take much less time for you to do. The original first test of the Luminance range of wax pencils is still included at the end.This tidies up a long standing niggle. Thank you for your patience.2/ There will be another group tutorial this spring possibly in pastel pencils on Pastelmat. If you wish to take part, you will need to be registered with the Pencil Topics Talk Facebook Group and the discussions and progress will be posted on there.As and when major parts are complete, I intend to post the completed parts here on the Topics website in the same style as the Venice Canal Tutorial.There is no cost, but you do have to register to take part and be involved in the discussions as we progress. More information is given on joining Topics Talk at the foot of the Contents page and more details are on the Tuition on line page where most of the actiity will be posted up
18th Annual Open Exhibition.The Station, Richmond.3rd August to 4th September 2019Closing date for entries 19th May 2019For entry forms visit https://www.ukcps.org.uk
I have added two new sections today as part of my Spring Clean and site revision. The first is to add a page at the start linked to the ‘About’ page which goes into the formal definition of a ‘Coloured Pencil’ This is called ‘DEFINITIONS’. - WHAT IS A COLOURED PENCIL ? If need be I will add any further similar information on this page in the futureI am also rebuilding my personal gallery pages which were last seen sa few years ago and are still shown on the Archived site although they not very up to date there. These give me the chance to show the range of media I paint in and also to include a few very recent pictures. I see no point in paying the rent for an Internet web space and not use it to the full ! Of course a great many of the pictures on my gallery pages are NON-PENCIL, but you do have the option to close your eyes to the acrylics, Pastels and watercolours !
February 22nd 2019
SOMERSET VELVET BLACK 280GSM PAPERLovers of black paper for coloured pencil will be happy to know that Somerset Velvet Black paper is coming back on the market after several years absence. The black pigments used are new but I am assured the paper is every bit as good as the original. There is limited availability at the moment ( March 2019 ) but as soon as I see major art suppliers holding stocks I will update further on prices and sheet sizes. See the foot of the page ‘working on Coloured Paper’ for the test result of the new against the old paper.March 6th 2019
15th April 2019The reader statistics for this site have been running a steady 500 to 600 visitors a day for many months with the average page readership at 3.5 pages per visit.I am happy to say that for the first time since the site was rebuilt over 18 months ago, we have achieved a visitor count of over 700 readers in a day. It shows there is still a demand for solid information as well as YouTube videos ! Thank you for your interest.
APRIL 22nd 2019Derwent lightfast oil based coloured pencilsThere is a lot of debate going on at the moment about the impending release of Derwent’s balance of the Lightfast range. Original talk was of the ‘full set’ of 72 being released this year - most probably at Patchings Festival in July when Derwent usually have their own Marquee and where they released the first 36 last year. Oddly the details of the full set are now available - giving rise to the chatter. Some of the new 72 sets are available on line as we speak, so the launch - if that is what it is - has been strangely quiet.The original talk was of a half set of 36 and a full set of 72. We now see that there are proposals for a wooden box set of 100 colours, so it is unclear exactly what is intended long term. As the pencils appear to handle in a very similar way to Polychromos, it is possible the marketing people decided to ( nearly ) match the Polychromos 120 colour range. Polychromos is NOT of course fully lightfast across the colour range but is much less expensive. When this item was drafted in late April we were awaiting any sort of response from Derwent, but one of our readers has now had a reply from Derwent which suggests that buyers of the first 36 wil be covered by an offer - still to be formalised - to sell the balance 36 of the 72 set in a 72 sized box with an empty tray. This would enable 36 set owners to complete the 72 set, but at a cost to be determined, and probably only direct from Derwent. Nothing has been said about the remaining 28 colours which will presumably be unique to the 100 wooden box set.I note that some on-line retailers are currently offering the new 72 set for around £180. and companies such as Art Discount offer the 36 set for approx £74. It will be interesting to see how any balancing collection of 36 is priced I will add information as I come across it.