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.
12th September 2018
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
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
The first ‘News’ Item on these pencils was posted over a year ago There was an initial release of a set of 36 pencils which was followed a year later by a further 36, making what appeared to be a full set of 72, matching the other Derwent brand sets.Since then ,we have learned that there will be further colours taking the full set up to 100.The odd way of releasing the range was down to the time taken to complete full testing to ensure the lightfast categories for each colour.There has been some confusion but this seems now to have been resolved with Derwent marketing two separate sets of 36 and a set of 72, with a wooden box set at a premium price containing the full 100. Single pencils are available over the Internet.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 sets for approx £74. LATEST UPDATE July 14th 2019Checking out the Derwent stand at Patchings Festival at Nottingham this year and also the UKCPS stand at the same event, I tried out the Derwent Lightfast range on the sample papers available and I must say that I was not greatly impressed. Admittedly, the test was not under the controlled conditions of my desk, with a couple of other brands to hand to compare, on paper I know and trust, BUT the colour seemed to lay down much softer than I expected and the layering of one colour over another was not exceptional.No doubt Derwent will cry ‘Foul’ at this observation, but this was a test on their paper in their promotional surroundings, and was no different to what you would have experienced on that day in that place. On this brief handling, I see no reason to spend money to undertake a more controlled review. These are an expensive pencil. They may have lightfast benefits, but the handling was not to my liking. Other reviews have said that the handling is very good and the colour range - now that there is nearer a full set - also very good. My recommendation is that you purchase and try three or four single Lightfast colours on paper you know and compare the handling and layering against another brand of pencils you know.The cost of doing your own test will set you back under £15 which is well worth paying to save you making an expensive purchase you might regret. Ivor Harrison has done an exhaustive test on these pencils on the Art Gear Guide site. Read that for a reliable view from someone who tests a lot of pencils, but bear in mind that everyone has their own likes and dislikes and there is no such thing as a perfect colour pencil. The test that I have linked is a comparison between the Derwent Lightfast and Caran d’Ache’s Luminance and was done before the second set of Lightfast colours were released. Both these brands are at the top end of the price scale - the only comment to make now is that the Derwent range now matches Luminance and will exceed it when the further colours are reached to make the full set. Around £3 a pencil is a lot to pay unless you are certain they are for you.The arrival of a range of lightfast colours from Derwent is welcomed. The price is high and that is down to the sheer cost of manufacturing pencils to this standard. Whether the pencils handle to your own needs and likes, is a personal thing, and that is something you need to check before spending around £200 or more. With coloured pencils on sale at anything from 30p to £3 each there is a huge range out there and a wide selection of qualities. All the more reason to know what you want before you spend serious money.July 16th 2019
DERWENT LIGHTFAST OIL BASED PENCILS
OLDER ITEMS RETAINED FOR THE PRESENT
JULY 2019UK Based artist Hazel Taylor has permitted the inclusion of a mixed media example of her commissioned artwork which is featured on the Mixed Media CP with Pastel page.Beautiful work !
Only a few updates on the last note in September.A follower of Topics in Greece Kindly pointed out to me that there was an error in the contents of the PDF file download for the Judith Crown Lightfastness tests for Faber castell Polychromos with colour test strips incorrect on the download file. This has been corrected. Thank you, Spiros.Nobody came back to me after the Art Materials Live show in Birmingham to pass comment on this year’s show. I saw nothing in the press, so I must assume that the actual art material content must have been pretty small and the ‘craft’ content much more active, as I suspected.Topics still gets a substantial daily readership around the world, though I notice that there are very many more websites available to Coloured Pencil users these days which offer advice and teaching than there were 10 years ago when I first set up the site.There are also many more forums on social media sites like Facebook which enable new pencil users get advice. The Topics Talk forum is very quiet these days - possibly reflecting my lack of input.As I have now retired from teaching, I don’t chase around like I used to keep up to date with products, and I don’t spend cash on new pencil brands which I don’t personally need.Topics will continue much as it is, as the basic content doesn’t really need to change.The only problem will be the lack of new product information. A lot of useful stuff on brand comparisons and new products can be found on my friend Ivor Harrison’s siteTHE ART GEAR GUIDE which is very regularly updated and is totally reliable for fair information.
October 2019Followers of the Topics websites over the years, and students of the many courses which I have run in the past, will wish to know that I have decided to retire from teaching. In my 82nd year I am slowing down, and just not able to undertake full day course teaching any more. The last courses I will run will be at Knuston Hall, Wellingborough, UK, on March 17th, 18th and 19th. 2020. These will be single subject days ( Tuesday, An Introduction to Coloured Pencils : Wednesday, How to use Watercolour Pencils, and Thursday, Mixed Media with Coloured Pencils. These are non residential day courses but courses & accommodation and the excellent Knuston meals are bookable through www.knustonhall.org.uk or enquiries on (01604) 362200