Friday, March 21, 2008

New Colored Pencils

About a year and a half ago I was asked to test some new pencils from Caran D'Ache. They sent me loads of pencils to test and instead of just fiddling around with them I did two full pieces (below) to really get a feel for the pencils. Well I really liked them, or I wouldn't have finished the first piece, let alone do two, and I reported back to Caran D'Ache with all my opinions on the new pencils. I was rewarded with a great box of Swiss chocolates (and all the pencils they sent me) and I was really pleased. I'll do anything for chocolate!

Orange and Blue Still-life - the original drawing I did to test the new Luminance pencils and one of my favorite pieces.
It is available still, btw, and hanging in Peterborough, NH at the Sharon Art Center until the end of March.
It also won a prize at the CPSA New England Juried show in Rhode Island last year.

Red Redo - the second image I did to test the pencils,but this is actually the redo. 6" x 18" property of Caran D'Ache

About a year later they contacted me again and asked if they could use one of the pictures I did with their pencils in their brochure and do more artwork for it as well as demonstrations. Since I had a high opinion of the pencils I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately the piece they wanted to use that I had already done, I didn't have anymore, so I had to redo it as well as create the new images. That tuned out to be good thing though - as the second version of it turned out much better!

Well the pencils are finally out in the UK at least, but not yet for the United States, so I think it is ok to talk about the pencils now. I wasn't supposed to say anything about them until they came out! Which was very hard! If anyone asked me what pencils I was using - I had to be really evasive. I felt like a dotcommer with inside information!

The pencils are called Luminance pencils which will be the third pencil type in their colored pencil line; they also have Supracolour watercolor pencils and Pablo dry pencils. The Luminance pencils are wax based and are softer than their Pablo pencils making them very blendable. They are also rated as highly lightfast.

the lowdown as I see them:
  • high lightfast ratings
  • soft and blendable, but not too soft as some pencils are
    works on a variety of surfaces (my favorite sanded paper, but also traditional white paper, wood, drafting film and more)
    Great selection of colors
  • great saturation
  • they mix well with other pencils/media (they actually blended perfectly with their watercolor pencil line Supracolors)
    The only thing I didn't like about them is that I would prefer the color of the pencil to be more visible on the pencil shaft, but that doesn't have anything to do with their performance.
When I first tested the pencils I did images on my preferred support: Ampersand Pastelbord. For the brochure however I had to try out different supports which made me nervous. What if they worked well with sanded supports but not with more traditional supports? Well they passed all my tests and especially the tradtional white paper test which I was really concerned about. They layer very well on the white paper without gumming up quickly and have very good transparency to allow for grisaille techniques.

The other image Caran D'Ache had me do was a drawing that used all three of their colored pencil lines. I chose to do it on white Pastelbord and start with doing an underpainting using the watercolor Supracolour pencils. Then I built up the drawing using the soft Luminance pencils, blending in areas, losing edges and making the image overall more 3-D. Then I topped off the drawing with the harder Pablo pencils to sharpen some areas and refine the piece. I was really impressed at how well the 3 pencil lines worked together. You can not tell in the finished piece where I used this pencil or that one and the Luminance pencils blended in so well with the Supracolours.


Reflections From Life Art Blog said...

Hey Nicole! Love those pieces you made! I've heard of these, but knew nothing about them. Thanks for updating me on how well they work.

Now, how in the world do you get known to these companies so they'll ask you to become a tester?!?!? You lucky dog!

You did a great job btw! Thanks for the article. It's very helpful.


Rita said...

Thanks for the review Nicole, now I'll have more things to add to my ever growing list of art supplies I need to buy! :D

The piece they chose of your work is lovely, I can see why they'd want to show it off. As an added bonus it's a great opportunity to showcase your talent and you got cp's and chocolate from the deal. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Jennifer Rose said...

Thanks for the review! I'm going to have to go out and make a trip to the bigger city and see if I can find these.

Unknown said...

I am so absolutely jealous!!!!!!!
I want to get good enough one day that they ask me to be a tester, seriously. lol.
Those are great pieces, I still love the first one and would buy it if I had money :(

Unknown said...


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