Friday, March 12, 2021

Coloring Therapy Thursday: Which Colored Pencils are the BEST?!

The number one question found on coloring groups, within coloring communities, on coloring sites, and in other coloring gathering spots is: Which Colored Pencils are the BEST? Everyone is on the hunt for that perfect colored pencil set that surpasses all others.

This simple question causes pencil wars to erupt! One person says, "Prismacolor Premier are the best!" Another person says, "Faber-Castell Polychromos are the best!" Still another says, "You can make beautiful art with plain old Crayola!" And with the introduction of low-cost colored pencils coming out of China by the...well, by the boatload, the pencil wars are at an all-time high!

(Prismacolor Premiere)

So, which colored pencils ARE the best?

This is an easy question to answer, because, they are ALL the best for someone! Choosing colored pencils, like choosing many art mediums, is different for every artist. There are many factors that account for what you choose. For example, what are you creating? Are you drawing or illustrating? Are you coloring in coloring books? Are you creating fine art to sell? Are you a student, a beginner, or a professional? Are you coloring for a relaxation hobby or is art your job? The list is endless.


If you are a hobby colorist, ask yourself: What is my maximum budget? Closely followed by: Do I wish to have several sets of pencils or just one set? Once you have established how much you wish to pay for pencils and determined what you plan to color with the pencils, then you can explore different brands from budget-friendly to horribly expensive (as in, a car payment expensive).

The misinformation about colored pencils is also endless.I have seen YouTuber colorists compare popular wax-based pencils with popular oil-based pencils, which is like comparing apples to avocados. I have seen colored pencil reviews where the only thing the artist did was talk about how pretty the pencils look in the tin, and then scribble a little color onto some random paper. Frankly, you cannot actually REVIEW a product if you've not created something with said product! 

(Power Poppy Rose all Day digital image, colored with Schpirerr Farben pencils)

You can glean some information by reading reviews and watching YouTube videos. But in all honesty, you may have to simply purchase a set of pencils and see how YOU like them. Make sure you purchase something that has a money-back guarantee. That way if you dislike the product, you can get a refund.

Also, remember, Amazon may not have the cheapest price! Check local art supply stores, online art stores, chain craft stores, discount stores, Ebay, and Etsy. If you are looking for one of the "new on the market" Chinese brands of colored pencils, Amazon may be your best bet. I have also ordered hard-to-find items from Amazon Japan for a good price and excellent results.  

I currently have nine (9) brands of colored pencils in my studio. I like all of them to some degree. I have favorites and not so favorites, but each set is unique and fills a need in my coloring arsenal. (To see which brands I have, and hear my thoughts, check back next month for a new Coloring Therapy post!)

I have created something nice with EVERY set of pencils that I own, regardless of price, style, type, or manufacturing origin. I have also created something awful with every set! Let's remember, the Sistine Chapel was not painted in a day, nor did every piece created by Rembrandt or Monet end up in a museum!
I recently purchased this little set of 24 Marco colored pencils from Amazon for just under $15. They are all pastel colors, which is something that many larger sets lack. (I also purchased a new coloring book so the pencils would not be lonely!) The "buzz" on these pencils is mixed, but I decided to take a risk on them. I figured, I am experienced enough to make them work.

There is no law or rule that says you must only purchase one brand or be loyal to only one brand. There is also no reason why you cannot mix brands! I mix and match all the time! I also mix my colored pencils with other art mediums such as Copic markers, acrylic paint, chalk pastels, and more!
This piece was created with Crayola pencils. The ones that come in the yellow box. Yes, the ones for kids! Was it more difficult to create what I wanted with Crayola versus a high-end brand? Not really. I had to learn how the pencils reacted and adjust my technique slightly, but I don't think they were more difficult to use.

As I have preached before, learning art fundamentals, color theory, art skills, and by practicing, you can use pretty much whatever you fancy to good results. The techniques you learn are invaluable and can be used across mediums. 

This picture is a work in progress from a coloring book called "Fantomorphia" by Kerby Rosanes. I am coloring it with Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. This is a new brand for me. I purchased a partial set with Christmas money, but I am slowly collecting the full 120 complement of pencils. They are on the high-end price point, and they are an oil-based pencil rather than wax. (The background for this was painted with black gouache, a type of opaque watercolor paint.)

I have found the Polychromos to be PERFECT for coloring the rusty metal in the picture, but...I am not loving the selection of greens as much as I love the selection I have in other sets. In the future I will probably mix and match brands to get exactly the colors I want. That is the beauty of having multiple sets of pencils!
Speaking of having color choices...I have three sets of pencils that do not have color names on the pencil barrels. They have a number, but no name. I decided to name them myself! I spent a few happy hours doing this! Here is what I came up with for the Marco Raffine 72 set. (Click the picture for a larger view or use your device's zoom feature.) I went with names of flowers, fruit, and natural elements. Such as Tangerine, Buttermilk, Rainforest, and Apple Cider. 
I have also named the Wanshui/Brutfuner pencils (168 set). This was a lot of work as there really are 168 unique pencils in the set! I thought of names that were very descriptive so that when you read the name you get a picture in your head of the color. I chose names such as Carved Pumpkins, Ruby Slippers, Red Gingham Tablecloth, Saltwater Taffy, Morning Glory, Robin's Egg, Parrot Green, Cinnamon, Paprika, and Burnt Toast. I get a splash of joy just reading the names!
I also named the cute set of 24 pastel colors from  Marco. I used colors like Butter Yellow, Raspberry, Lagoon, and Lime Popsicle. 

My love of pencils is vast! My Copic markers are still my beloved, but...there is just something special about pencils! I hope you will come back next month to see which sets I have, and see what I like about each set. I will also show you some work created with each brand of pencils.

Have an excellent weekend! Color some stuff! Have fun! 

If you have any of the three pencil brands that I named, please use the contact form on the right sidebar to email me and ask for the BLANK swatch sheets. I am happy to provide them as long as you credit me with the naming.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Coloring Therapy Thursday: Volumes of Beauty

Hello, Blogger Buddies! I am here with another NEW feature that will be appearing this year on the blog....Coloring Therapy Thursday! On selected Thursdays I will share coloring projects with you, either coloring pages (including digital stamps) or coloring books. These will not be card projects, but rather coloring only. I have started to share with you some different tutorials and reviews about coloring therapy, but I really want to make this a regular feature of the blog. Let's see how we do!

What is coloring therapy? Much like other hobbies and artistic pursuits, coloring as therapy has the ability to relax your brain. Coloring induces a more relaxed state by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest after a long or difficult day. Many therapists are now using coloring to help people with addiction, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

I have loved to color my whole life from my first 8-pack of Crayola crayons to this day with my many various coloring tools and mediums! (I still have Crayola crayons, but now I have the 120 pack! {smile}

I started this project a few weeks ago. You can read about the Work In Progress (WIP) HERE. I had some trouble finishing the piece due to migraines and arthritis, but I FINALLY finished up the other day! When I color a complicated image like this, I always feel a burst of joy when it is finally finished! 

My main focus for this project was to color it 100% with Crayola colored pencils! I really wanted to see how I could manage with budget pencils. It was really fun and I think the piece turned out very well, considering!
The digital image is called Volumes of Beauty and can be found on the Power Poppy site HERE. The finished panel is 7 3/4" x 6 1/4" and is triple matted with cardstock. 

There were a lot of techniques to tackle with this image! I had to Google the flowers to see what they look like in real life (Caladium and Peony). I also had to try to color clear glass and pearls as well as old books! And then I added a background! It's a lot! But, I really enjoy this type of "busy" coloring the most!

There are loads of different styles of coloring pages and coloring books available, as well as digital stamp images like this one. There are books at every price point as well.

The difference between a digital coloring page and a digital stamp is that coloring pages are usually PDF files and cannot be manipulated in any way. You just download them and print them. A digital stamp image is normally a JPG or a PNG file that can be resized and manipulated using your photo editing software. I can print this image at 3" tall or 11" tall and keep the same crisp resolution! 
Now, for the nitty gritty on the Crayola pencils! They did an excellent job! I was able to get nice colors by layering. These pencils do NOT work well with heavy pressure, but they do lay down well in light layers. I found trying to do the background a but problematic, so I resorted to using a blending medium (Gamsol) to smooth out the layers a bit on the background. 
I used the white Prismacolor pencil to add the "bokeh" dots to the blue background. The Prismacolor white is very soft and waxy and went over the top of the Crayola pretty well. I also used the Arteza white gel pen to add a few tiny highlight details.
Because the Crayola pencils are a hard wax pencil, I was able to draw on lots of details even after I had colored lots of layers. The veins of the leaf, for example, were drawn on after I had colored the leaf. 
I enjoyed coloring the old books and making them look worn at the edges. The lettering was not as successful, but the more I tried to fix it, the worse it became, so I ended up just leaving it. The bottles were also difficult, but coloring clear glass is always an interesting process. I am pretty satisfied with how they ended up looking.
I hope to be able to offer more coloring therapy posts each month, even if they are just works in progress (WIPs). I think that it is fun to see how other artists approach a picture, and to learn what mediums they use.

If you enjoy coloring as therapy, drop me a note below and tell me about it! 

Digital stamp: Volumes of Beauty
Cardstock: CutCardStock Squid Ink, Hammermill White, Pink unknown
Colored pencil paper: Bienfang Bristol Vellum 146lb
Colored pencils: Crayola 120 set, Crayola Colors of the World 24 set, Prismacolor White
Blending solution: Gamsol
Whitel gel pen: Arteza
Gold gel pen: Copic Atyou Spica Buttermilk
Dies: Spellbinders Grand Rectangles

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Card Stash Saturday: Wintertime Plaid

Hello! I am going to try some new ideas on the blog this year, one being "Card Stash Saturday"! I hope to post a NEW card idea at least one Saturday a month in an effort to build up our card stashes! 

I am always needing cards for men and older boys, and cards for some of the "lesser" holidays during the year. Plus, I am currently trying to find ways to use my holiday stamps and images for winter cards, so I am going with that idea today! 

Plus...PLAID! Who loves plaid in the winter?!! I grew up in a small town near Woolrich, PA which is well known for their plaid clothing! Pretty much everyone owned some sort of plaid jacket, blanket, or flannel shirt! It was a sea of plaid in the winter! So, while I no longer wear much plaid, I still LOVE plaid!

I originally created this card for the Power Poppy blog, but it did not get used, and since it is a bit seasonally specific, I decided to use it for or FIRST Card Stash Saturday! 

These amazing plaid and striped thermos bottles from the Power Poppy Cup of Good Cheer digital stamp set are the perfect images for a winter theme! These images are technically for Christmas, but they can be used for a general winter vibe, too! And seriously...plaid, stripes, polka dots...heaven!

I decided to color the image in some frosty pastels to make it more winter-like rather than Christmas themed! It was a bit strange to use my pale colors after months of working with bright, saturated color! 

I printed the image at 4" x 5 1/4" and cut it out with a pierced rectangle die. I had a brief thought of actually stitching around the edge with some embroidery floss, but my saner brain said...ahhh...NO! 

I used a base color of Copic markers, then added colored pencil on top for the fine details. I used Schpirerr Farben oil pencils because they are a harder pencil which hold a sharp point. (For the color list, see the Supplies below.) 

A note for my coloring supply obsessed readers: The Schpirerr Farben pencils are a mid-range priced pencil, and they are on sale right now on Amazon for under $50 for the 96 set! I think I paid around $60 for them back in July, and the regular price right now is nearly $80, so it's a good deal! 

The card is a standard 5" x 7" size, and flat for easy mailing! I added some plaid background paper and some cocoa colored cardstock (say that three times)! I have been digging into my stash of 6x6 printed paper pads all winter in an effort to use it up. It's a lost cause! I have so much! Look for a "Use Your Stash" monthly project day, coming soon!

Since I used 6" x 6" paper, I cut the plaid paper to 4 7/8" x 6" and the smaller strip of polka dot paper to 4 7/8" 3 3/8" to fit across the 7" card.

The sentiment is from the Power Poppy Cuddle in the Cabin clear stamp set. I stamped the sentiment onto the cocoa cardstock and heat embossed with white embossing powder before cutting it out with a word strip die.

I added two white panels to the inside to make it easy to write a message or stamp a sentiment. I used a white gel pen for some highlights and a clear glitter gel pen for some sparkle. lumpy ribbon or other embellishments! I really need more flat, standard-sized cards in my stash! I have so many cards that require a special mailer and extra postage! It is nice to just grab a card, put it in an envelop, add stamp, and mail! 

If you need a more masculine version of plaid, check out this card that I created for the Power Poppy Quiet Christmas release.

For details about this card, click HERE.

I hope you enjoyed our FIRST Card Stash Saturday project! Have a great week! I can't wait to see what you create! 

Power Poppy stamps: Cup of Good CheerCuddle in the Cabin
Cardstock: WorldWin Brown, Hammermill 100# White
Embossing powder: WOW Opaque Bright White Super Fine
Ink: Versamark watermark
Printed paper: My Favorite Things Plaid Patterns: Merry and Bright, Authentique Swaddle Boy
Dies: Elizabeth Craft Stitched Rectangles, My Favorite Things Sentiment Strips
Pens: Sakura Gelly Roll Star Dust, Arteza white gel
Alcohol markers: Copic colorless blender, C000, C0, E49, E47, E44, E43, E42, E40, RV95, RV93, RV91, R85, R83, R81, B37, B34, B02, B01, B00, B000, B0000, BV00, BV000, BV0000, G0000, Y0000
Colored pencils: Prismacolor Premiere white; Schpirerr Farben Silver Vizsla, Ruby Brown, Dark Brown, French Lavendar, Pink Bubblegum, Turquoise, French Blue, Indigo, Eucalyptus Tree, Cypress Tree

Friday, January 15, 2021

Volumes of Beauty: Work in Progress

Hello, and welcome back to the blog! I know that I have been neglecting my Readers, but I am trying behind the scenes to create some new content for you. I have to admit, it has been very slow going! I am making some plans and do hope to have more regular content in the coming months. Things won't be the same as they were back in the blog heyday, but it should be better than it has been for the past year or so! 

Now, for today's post! I am joining up with the Power Poppy team again to showcase two stamp images that were released to Kit and Clowder Online Coloring Classes last fall. The team was not able to use the images for a period of time in order to give Kit and Clowder the opportunity to teach their classes. Then, we had our huge Christmas Release, so here we are! (Please note that the classes were part of the Kit and Clowder monthly subscription and are no longer available.)

The new images are called Volumes of Beauty, and Pure Fragrance. Each are ready to be downloaded and colored! Both contain the black line art and the pale gray line art. These images are also are part of the Fresh-squeezed Scents line.

I know you will be stunned by what the team was able to do with these images! 

On to my project, which is a work in progress!

My long-time readers are probably saying, "What is a work in progress, and why are you not posting a finished card?!" Well, a work in progress is just that...a work that is in the process of being completed. And in many coloring communities, these are just as coveted as fully finished works! Plus, having something to share is better than nothing to share, am I right?!?

I have printed my image onto colored pencil paper, using the gray line version. I printed the image at just larger than 7" x 5".
On a fun and exciting note, I am using ONLY Crayola colored pencils on this project! Yes, you read that correctly! I am still on my mission to show you that you CAN created lovely things with student-grade or budget-friendly supplies! Learning art fundamentals and techniques is far more important than which supplies you use.

Don't get me wrong. High-end supplies can sometimes make the job easier and I love my high-end items! But, for coloring therapy you can use budget-friendly supplies and have a great time doing it! 
I used 4 pink pencils, 3 greens, and an acid-yellow shade to color this caladium leaf. Since Crayola pencils are a hard wax pencil, I was able to add the veins back in after coloring! (Please note that there will be final touches to what you see here when the project is finished.)

I was able to get lots of layering out of the pencils on this Bienfang Bristol paper! Folks are always saying that budget pencils are not very pigmented, but I have found, with the right paper and lots of light layers, you can achieve great color!
I started the peony bloom with the same pinks that I used on the leaf, with a few alterations for a softer look. I will list all the colors when I post the finished piece. 
Costing just under $23 for a set of 120 pencils, Crayola colored pencils are approximately 19 cents per pencil. The 100 set is under $14! Perfect for most budgets! As a comparison, Prismacolor Premiere pencils are around 64 cents per pencil if purchased as part of a set, and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils are $1.35 per pencil when bought as part of a set. To purchase individual pencils for these brands, the price is $1.35 each for Prismacolor and $2.23 each for FC Polychromos! If you are just trying this hobby on for size, you may consider a more budget-friendly version.

I will be back soon with the finished piece! I hope you have fun coloring something while you wait!

Make sure to hop over to Power Poppy for a visit. To see what my teammates have created, check out the list below!

Gloria - you are here

Monday, January 04, 2021

Power Poppy Inspire Me Monday: Wintertime Wishes

Hello! Welcome to 2021 and the first Power Poppy Inspire Me Monday of the New Year! My inspiration idea is two-fold. First, I want to inspire you to use some of your Christmas and holiday stamps in non-holiday creations such as thank you notes, birthday cards, and thinking of you gifts. Second, I want to inspire you to USE YOUR PRODUCTS!

To read all about my inspiration piece, check the Power Poppy Blog HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Power Poppy - Inspire Me Monday

Hello, everyone! Today is a special day for Inspire Me Monday! Instead of just one Bloomie you get two! Allison and I are having a friendly challenge! We each set the other a challenge. We picked a stamp set, a coloring medium, and a sketch...for each other! 

The challenge Allison set for me was to:

 - Use either Forest Fellas or Gifts from the Sea stamp sets

- Use Copic markers and colored pencils as the coloring medium

- Use the sketch provided (sketch by Mojo Monday)

Well, not too difficult a challenge! I really wanted to use the Gifts from the Sea image as I live in California and thought a beach-themed Christmas card would be awesome. However, I could not color such a detailed image to fit the small size needed for the card sketch! 

I ended up printing the digital version of Forest Fellas: Maximo Moose to color for my project. I colored Maximo with Copics and Prismacolor Pencils. 
I followed the sketch very closely and created a slimline card (tall and skinny is what we used to call these in the "old days"). My card is 8" tall and 4" wide. 
I had fun digging into my vast stash of 6x6 paper pads for some moose appropriate patterns for my card! I was thinking lumber jacks and log cabins! I love how it turned out!
I stamped the clear version of the sentiment in brown ink. A bit of twine and a few enamel dots finish off the card.

I had fun doing Allison's challenge! I hope the Bloomies can do more of these! Make sure to hop over to the Power Poppy Blog to see Allison's Creation!

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Power Poppy 12 Days of Christmas December Challenge - Day 8

Hello! At long last it's my turn on the Power Poppy Blog for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge!

I get to use the Joy to the World Bouquet stamp set for my project!

I have a fun twist on the image! Rather than color the image with Copics or pencils...
I created some background panels with Distress Inks!

To see all the details of my project, click HERE to visit the Power Poppy Blog!