While colored pencils were once considered to be primarily for kids, throughout the years they have been steadily gaining respect amongst artists, galleries, and collectors. Artists are exploring the creative potential of this art-making medium, while art collectors and enthusiasts are marvelling at their output!
Unlike mixing paints that fully combine together, colored pencil layers and mixes of color remain separate and visually mix together. Colors can be easily blended together in endless combinations to create even more shades, tints and hues. One of the unique qualities of this medium is that you are often times able to still see the various colors separately when you look close enough. You can basically draw anything with colored pencils that you would be able to depict with paint. Colored pencil art can easily rival paintings in luminosity and depth of color! Colored pencils can be used to create artwork in a variety of styles, such as photorealism, abstraction, whimsical, and composite (combination of styles).
Colored pencils come in three categories: Wax-Based, Oil Based and Water-Soluble. Wax-Based pencils are dry and the most common colored pencil. The leads are soft and thick or hard and thin. The pigment is bound together with vegetable oil. Water-soluble are the common watercolor pencils. An emulsifier is added to the binder, and the pigment can be liquefied and used like watercolor. They can be sharpened to a fine point to allow for exquisite detail.
In the late 1970’s, after years of testing, light fastness standards were written for oils, watercolors, acrylics, and alkyds. Since then, paints suitable for fine artwork (IE: will not fade over time) are marked with Light fastness symbols I and II, providing artists the option of choosing materials that have been stringently tested for light fastness. In the early 1990’s, with the founding of the Colored Pencil Society of America, CPSA, and the increasing use of colored pencil for creating fine art, it became necessary to have a standard of light fastness for this medium. Today the light fastness standard has been achieved.