3 Colored Pencil Brands and When To Use Them

What a wonderful way to reconnect with my life in Florida! My first class back at the Rookery Bay Learning Center was “Flowers in Colored Pencil,” and it couldn’t have been more inspiring.

I hadn’t created much art in the last month or so due to my relocation, and I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on my pencils again. To dive into the colorful world of florals, birds and butterflies was perfect! It was the artistic jumpstart I needed to get into the swing of my new life in Florida.

In the class, we covered a lot of territory. I demonstrated a variety of colored pencils. Each one of them gives a totally different look to your work. Here are examples of my personal favorites.

Using Colored Pencils

This first example (above) is Verithin pencils. These dry, sharp leads are perfect for the colored pencil technique called layering. They also can be blended with a stump, if put down lightly. I love the look of layering, for it allows the paper to still show through, giving a somewhat pixilated look to the drawing. It’s great for creating flowers that have a more matte finish, or are somewhat fuzzy.

Colored pencil techniques | Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

Work in progress; Using Primsacolor colored pencils

For shiny subjects, I prefer Prismacolor. This heavy wax colored pencil can be burnished up, (heavily applied) to create the look of a painting. The heavy coverage Prismacolor provides is perfect for creating shiny petals and brilliant, bright colors. As you can see here, they are also good for glass and creating textures. The texture of the bricks was scratched out with a craft knife.

Colored pencil techniques | Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

Using Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils on suede board

For more of a pastel quality, I demonstrated how to use the Derwent Coloursoft pencils. These are a clay based colored pencil. When applied to suede board or velour paper, the look is much like that of a pastel painting. You can see the softness these pencils provide.

In my workshop, I realized that this was a lot of information because of the looks on my students’ faces as they tried to keep it all straight. Stay tuned, and I will go into more information and instruction on each of these colored pencil techniques in future blog posts.

The most important thing to remember is that practice is the key to learning. Never be afraid to experiment and make a few mistakes. That’s the only way to gain experience, and learn what NOT to do. The more you do, the better you will become!

So go out and have fun. Colored pencil is a wonderful medium to play with and enjoy for the pure fun and creative nature of drawing. Come back (or check out my books here) and I’ll show you how!

Until next time,


Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

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Watercolor Techniques: Controlling the Paint

What separates watercolor from the other opaque mediums is the brilliance and the amount of light the painting has. I would even take the liberty to say that the overall painting seems to be one value lighter. You can place a watercolor on a wall and you really don’t need gallery lights, whereas with the other mediums, the paintings weaken. Another aspect of watercolor is the ethereal and diffused edges. For this reason you may want to include this medium in your painting projects.

In the last two blogs, I wrote about the kinds of watercolor paper and the classification of pigments. In this blog we will gain insight on how watercolor techniques to make the paper and pigments work together.

Watercolor techniques | Johannes Vloothuis, ArtistsNetwork.com

This old adobe home painting (above) has three classifications of edges. The background trees were all done in what is commonly known as “wet-into-wet.” This out-of-focus area conveys a sense of recession, resulting in a 3D illusion. My policy is to always apply this technique to my backgrounds, especially where there are buildings. I always tell my students, “Every watercolor should have wet-into-wet application.” If this is ignored, the wonder of this medium is seriously downgraded. (Click here to learn about my online art workshops, where I go into more details of watercolor techniques for beginners.)

Everything seems fine and dandy but, hold on, it’s not that easy. If the intent is to conserve the basic silhouette of the forms on wet paper, it requires quite a bit of skill to hold these shapes or the paint will just expand like a balloon. The timing has to be just right.

Watercolor techniques | Johannes Vloothuis, ArtistsNetwork.com

Watercolor Techniques: Diffused Edges

In this painting (above) once again my policy of creating diffused edges was put into practice. I tend to handle these three degrees of edges:

  1. Very diffused edges: The entire form is lost and the paint just bleeds out. This is evident at the top half left portion of this painting. The orange trees have no defined shapes. This helps indicate they are even further back in comparison to the evergreens, which are somewhat more defined.
  2. Soft edges: Things will look blurry but the shapes will still hold their identity. The violet evergreens behind the shack look out of focus but yet you can distinguish their forms.
  3. Hard edges: These are very distinct and sharp. Hard edges tend to attract the eye. Placed in the right place, they enhance a focal point. The yellow tree at the right of the building has very defined and crisp foliage.
Watercolor techniques | Johannes Vloothuis, ArtistsNetwork.com

You can appreciate the contrast of hard vs. soft edges in this example; clearly things seem to be about 100 yards back. Even the bare tree was done with a controlled wet edge. Had I not done this it would stack everything together at one plane. The green tree seems closer due to the hard edges.

The reason wet-into-wet watercolor techniques are so vital is because without them, your elements can seem like they are cut out and pasted on with glue. Besides, the human eye cannot see everything in sharp focus. You can read more about this in my book, Landscape Painting Essentials. There’s an entire chapter on painting how the eye anatomically perceives reality.

Watercolor Technique: Controlling Wet-Into-Wet Edges

This where the whole thing gets tricky! Let’s forget for a moment that we’re working with brushes and paper and think along the lines that we’re working with two sponges because both the paper and the brush absorb water. If you spill milk on the floor and use a totally wet towel will you be able to pick up the puddle? No. In fact you would add more water into it. But if you wring and squeeze out as much water as you can then the towel will suck up what’s on the floor. The same principle applies to watercolor wet-into-wet application. Imagine your towel is the brush and the paper the floor. If your brush is too wet, you will lose control over how far the pigment advances and you can ruin the form. The other factor is how much water is sitting on top of the paper. The interplay of the dampness of both the brush and the paper is what determines if you end up with a very diffused or soft edge.
These are the steps I use to control my wet-into-wet applications:

1. Thoroughly wet the paper. Take into account you cannot oversaturate it but you can sure “under wet.” If you feel you will be painting on the wet area for a good deal of time, wet it, wait 7-10 minutes and rewet. You can even do this a third time. The idea is to allow gravity to do its job and get as much water you need under the surface.

2. Add pigment. If you want a very diffused edge, wait only until the puddle is gone then hit it with the pigment. The degree of how wet your brush is vs. how wet the paper is will determine the degree of diffusion.

3. Wait and apply. If you want a soft edge but still keep the form, wait until the water seeps into the cotton fibers. (The water doesn’t actually dry.) The right moment to apply the paint is when the glisten disappears. With a damp cloth squeeze the bristles at the brush ferrule (where the metal meets the bristles) while holding it upright, the bristles facing you, at a 90 degree angle to the paper. Also make sure the pigment is not runny wet, but moist and pasty.

4. Practice step 3 by writing numbers and letters on the paper that are about 3/4″. If you can still clearly distinguish the letters and numbers you have succeeded. Then practice with forms such as evergreen trees.

Hint: If your shape is definition sensitive, such as an evergreen, don’t start at the contour. Start in the middle and gradually work your way toward the outer contour. This will buy you more time and allow you to assess the degree of wetness and hit the contour at its ripe moment.

You will still run into unpredictability, but with practice you will tame watercolor!

Stay tuned for my next blog, where you’ll gain insight on how to remove undesired areas.

Visit my website, http://improvemypaintings.com to download courses I have given, to buy my book, “Landscape Painting Essentials” or join our ongoing live online art classes.

“Landscape Painting Essentials” and other video courses are available at NorthLightShop.com. North Light has also just released a new eBook written by Johannes titled Landscape Painting Essentials. Join his online art classes at http://improvemypaintings.com.

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New Art Chat! WAM: Women. Artists. Mentors.

Join Linda Fisler as she welcomes a group of five artists to discuss the benefits of forming or joining a mentor group.

Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 (A recording will be available here after the webinar)

11:00am-12:30pm EST

Cost: FREE

Click here to register!

Art Chats with Linda Fisler

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Best of Pastel Pointers | Value is Key to Effective Color

One of my favorite sayings about art is:

“Color gets the glory and value does the work.”

Most of us love color. We’re drawn to it hoping to accomplish something expressive in our paintings. If the value structure (the relative lightness and darkness) in a painting is wrong, however, all the pretty colors housed in our pastel cases won’t work, and the painting will fall short. If you’re one of the fortunate painters that has a keen eye for value—congratulations! If, on the other hand, you’re among the many that work diligently analyzing value ranges, here are a couple of tips that might help.


Nature’s Tapestry (pastel, 12×16) by Richard McKinley

  1. First, convert your reference to a value scale. If you’re working with photo reference, you can digitally convert it to a gray scale and remove all traces of color. This will instantly show you the value relationships of all the individual elements in the scene. Another option, if you have a color photograph, is to scan it into your computer and then convert it to gray scale. Or, go down to your local copy center and use one of the better copy machines. This isn’t as accurate as converting your own digital files but still serves a useful purpose. Remember that any photographic reference has its limitations; value ranges are never exact to what the human eye is capable of seeing. Shadows are often extremely dark and lights get blown out. So use these black-and-white representations as a generalization.
  2. Second, when you’re working from life, employ a piece of red plastic. Red has its limitations but serves well for most outdoor situations. The majority of landscapes are saturated with green, blue, and gray, allowing the red plastic to neutralize the color and producing a monochromatic image in appearance. When painting in the Southwest, which has bright reds and oranges, green plastic is useful. Holding this up and scrutinizing the scene, as well as your painting, will help remind you of the relative value range. This allows us to use all the color we wish without compromising the structural form. For travel, I clip a square of red plastic onto a plastic viewer (see photo). These viewers are available commercially. The versatile “Picture Perfect 3-in-1 Plus” viewer can be found at www.pictureperfectviewfinder.com.












Though far from 100 percent accurate, these exercises serve as helpful tools in removing the stimulation of color, and have helped many a value-challenged artist produce strong sound work. With practice, you’ll acquire the ability to intuitively access value. In the meantime, “seeing red” can really help.



Get more landscape painting advice from Richard McKinley in his beautiful, hardcover book, The Landscape Paintings of Richard McKinley: Selected Works in Oil and Pastel, available here.

The 2015 Annual CD archive is here! Get an entire year’s worth of Pastel Journal articles at your fingertips. Add the 2015 Pastel Journal Annual CD to your pastel library today!

Subscribe to Pastel Journal magazine

Watch pastel art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

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Drawing the Nose

Focus on the Features: The Nose

Understanding the basic structures of the various facial features goes a long way in achieving a realistic depiction. (An excerpt from Drawing Expressive Portraits)

By Paul Leveille
How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com


The features are what make human faces so interesting. Although most features are constructed similarly from person to person, each individual still exhibits subtle and not so subtle differences. For example, each nose has a bridge followed by cartilage and two nostrils, but some noses are thin while others are broad; some are turned up and others are hooked; and so on.

Here I’ll explain the basic structures of the nose and how to draw them.

By a Nose

One of the most distinctive features of the human head is the nose. It protrudes more than any other feature and gives the face depth and character. Although the variety of nose shapes seems endless, all noses have the same basic triangular form: narrow at the top, and wider and fuller at the bottom.

The upper part of the nose, the bridge, is formed by bone. The lower part consists of five pieces of cartilage: Two pieces make up the tip, two make up the wings of the nostrils, and one divides the nostrils. (See The Structure of the Nose, A.)

The Structure of the Nose

How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
A Seen from below, the five pieces of cartilage that make up the lower part of the nose are apparent. The nostrils are closer together toward the tip of the nose and get farther apart toward the cheeks.


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
B The skin lies smoothly over the bone of the upper nose, usually catching a highlight. Highlights on the tip of the nose will make it appear to come forward.


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
C Drawing the nose at different and unusual angles will help you understand its shape.


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
D Though there are all kinds of nose shapes, all noses are basically thinner and narrower at the bridge and fuller at the bottom. Some even have a ball- or bulb-shape at the bottom.

A Nose in Three Steps


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
1. When first drawing the nose, simplify it into a wedge-shaped series of planes.


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
2. To define the subtle shapes of bone and cartilage within the wedge shapes, start to draw the rounded forms of the bridge, the tip of the nose and the nostrils. Notice how the bulb part of the nose tapers into the bridge.


How to draw a nose | Paul Leveille, ArtistsNetwork.com
3.Continue by rendering the light and dark areas. Save the white of your paper for the highlights, or lift them out with an eraser.

Paul Leveille paints portraits of nationally and internationally distinguished clients and also conducts portrait painting workshops and demonstrations around the country. He lives in western Massachusetts. See his website at www.paulleveillestudio.comDrawing Expressive Portraits | ArtistsNetwork.com

This article is excerpted from his book, Drawing Expressive Portraits, © 2001 by Paul Leveille, used with permission from North Light Books, an imprint of F+W Media Inc. Visit your local bookseller, call 800/258-0929 or go to www.northlightshop.com to obtain a copy.


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Drawing, Spring 2016 Preview Video

The spring 2016 issue of Drawing focuses on architecture and urban life, with profiles of artists who excel at depicting the busy life of the city. We also feature several instructional articles to help you improve other aspects of your own art.

Visit our online store to purchase a copy or to download the magazine. Even better, subscribe here to make sure you receive every issue. If you enjoy the video, be sure to give it a thumbs up on YouTube, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Drawing Cover Spring 2016

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Go For the Glow | Pastel Paintings by Christine Ivers

Congratulations! You’re among the first to hear about the latest art workshops available, as well as score bonus content and free excerpts. Today is no exception! Please enjoy the following article preview from Pastel Journal on Christine Ivers. Learn directly from Christine with her four new DVDs from ArtistsNetworkTV. ~Cherie

Pastel painting techniques with Christine Ivers | ArtistsNetwork.com

Empty Bed (pastel; 17×23) by Christine Ivers (PIN THIS!)

The Pastel Paintings of Christine Ivers by Deborah Secor
(from Pastel Journal, November/December 2012)

After four decades working as an art director, Christine Ivers has become comfortable working out a composition right at the start using a camera. Looking through the lens, she explains, is a huge part of her creative process. “The ingrained graphic artist in me takes over,” she says. “I’m often asked how I’m able to get such wonderful night photos. I’ve worked with photography for many years, and I know Photoshop, but I do something that many people overlook: I actually read the camera manual.”

Also, in terms of photography, the artist notes the resolution setting is critically important. She selects a high-quality resolution for each photo–one that will print clearly enough to be a useful resource.

A grid drawn on the photo and the board allows Ivers to translate elements to her board accurately. This is particularly helpful with architecture, which is often a featured subject in her paintings. “I draw the grid on the photo and then use a diagonal line to correctly proportion the photo to my board, drawing with a neutral pastel pencil,” she explains. Ivers then uses different colored pastel pencils to begin the work.

Pastel painting techniques with Christine Ivers | ArtistsNetwork.com

Traveling Through Time (pastel, 24×18) by Christine Ivers. Learn how to paint with pastels from Christine, with her four new ArtistsNetworkTV workshops.

The photos she takes, whether by night or day, become more than mere records of a time and place. “I shoot on the fly and usually see stories in the photos later when I look at them,” she says. “The painting Empty Bed, for instance, came about when I was shooting in Boston one night. I started off in front of a gallery and noticed a man standing there watching the video loop playing inside. Forty-five minutes later, when I came back, he was still there. I decided it was because he had no one to go home to.”

Going for the Glow 

Pastel People, Places, and Scenes" Collection | ArtistsNetwork.com

Get the “Pastel People, Places, and Scenes” Collection, which includes Christine’s four new DVDs, plus an 18-piece set of pastels from Great American!

Ivers approaches a nighttime painting differently than she does a daytime scene. Because the dark colors are so vital, she integrates five or six very dark pastel sticks of the same value range into the shadowy areas, alternating warm and cool temperatures, pulling the eye into the painting. “I use black. I have a bunch of huge Sennelier black sticks and every dark that any manufacturer makes,” Ivers says. “I’ve found that the two darkest sticks are the Ludwig eggplant and Rembrandt black.

“I love to play with reflective objects–cars, trucks, windows, poles and hubcaps,” she adds. “The little dots, dashes and streaks of color are like eye candy. Nupastels are absolutely wonderful for painting these little gems which create so much excitement in the painting with very little effort. I’m excited by tics of light bouncing on shiny surfaces yet serenely moved by the depth of many colors, warm and cool, that make up the voids of light.”

The aura of light piercing the darkness fascinates the artist, who describes the gleaming light around headlights, street lamps or neon signs as “addictive.” Ivers uses at least three to six values, keeping color temperature in mind, to capture the radiance. Beginning with the color at the center, she then scumbles lightly over it with a lighter color to keep the hard edges at bay. She may work out the entire light progression from center to edge, and then reverse the approach, working from the outside edges back in, going back and forth as many times as needed. “These glows are simple to paint with a little understanding of value,” she says. “Add the lost and found edges of night, the softness of color on people and vegetation, and the contrast of light and darkness itself, and I’m lost in the painting. I want my viewers to discover what they normally wouldn’t take the time to see.

“Finding what lies between the polar opposite values of contrast and temperature is what I love,” Ivers adds. “Life is yin and yang. The sun rises and sets. There’s an opposite for everything, and I love to explore both worlds. I learn from both night and day, and I bring what I learn from one to the other. I would be bored painting just one side of the universe, so I paint both.” ~DS

Christine’s art workshop DVDs include the following exciting pastel painting techniques: cityscapes at night, indoor scenes with people, plein air and perspective and proportion secrets!

**Subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, and score a free download on Pastel Painting: 4 Articles on Pastel Basics for Artists.

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