Are your colour/color pencils lightfast?

This is not a question that I thought I would be asking, except that I recently read an article talking about the low lightfastness rating of many of my favourite Prismacolor pencils. Given how important I think lightfastness is for watercolours it’s somewhat strange that I haven’t considered this as an issue before.

All my Prismacolors

I had a hunt through my pencil box for my Prismacolors and checked them against the lightfastness chart that the company has released. I discovered that just over half of the colours that I own are in the top two lightfastness ratings categories. Phew! Those pencils I can continue to use without worry. The rest are in the bottom three categories. That means I wouldn’t use them for any work that I would be likely to sell, but I can use them on casual projects or for general ‘colouring in’ activities.

What I am confident to use long term.

Presently I am using my pencils to make colour interpretations of photographs of statues taken by the German artist Aglaia Konrad, in her book Schaubuch: Skulptur. (Yep, weird, but so me). As this is an exercise for me and all the drawings are in a sketchbook I will continue with using the lower rates colours, but I won’t replace them.

My colour pencil interpretation of an Aglaia Konrad photo of sculpture fragments in her book Schaubuch: Skulptur

As an aside, when I dived into the depths of the world of colour pencils (I don’t recommend it, it was terrifyingly obsessed), I found out that 4 of my pencils weren’t included on the lightfastness list. It turns out that they are considered ‘rare’ (sadly not rare enough to get me on Antiques Roadshow, or upgrade my lifestyle). They are discontinued colours from a previous incarnation of the company and were made in the late 1980’s. These colours were later discontinued when the company changed hands.

In the end my other half decided to get serious and order a set of lightfast Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. I have swatched them out below and I am pleasantly surprised by some of the colours this set of 20 includes.

Coffee shots

So it’s not quite Wednesday,  but I took  my book to the coffee shop this morning. It was a bit quiet, but two people sitting in the  outside area caught my eye. Both were buffered against the arrival of winter temperatures.

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This man was rugged up in a large jacket which exaggerated the width of his shoulders,  particularly as he was sitting a bit low in his chair.

A few tables away sat a man in an interesting knitted cap.

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Once again I am using my Koh-i-noor Magic pencils and a white Prismacolour pencil on my toned brown Strathmore sketchbook.

Shades of grey

I’ve just finished working my way through my Strathmore Toned-Grey sketchbook, some 50 pages, most of which both back and front have been drawn on with coloured pencils. I’ve used coloured pencils since childhood, but as an adult I’m discovering these materials anew.

Unlike watercolours it’s hard to satisfactorily mix new colours using pencils. I wished I had a range of more subtle colours on many occasions. So my recent pencil buys have been of greys and neutrals, colours which are not strongly represented in the pencil box.

From left to right are: Green Ochre, Sandbar Brown, Slate Grey, 50% Cool Grey, 30% Cool Grey and 20% Cool Grey. On the right hand side of the pictures are the Sky Blue Light and White which I’ve been using for some time, but which fit also into this colour range.

New pencils, ohh goody!

New pencils, ohh goody!

I’ve drawn them onto Strathmore Toned Tan paper below. I had started using them in my previous sketchbook but I don’t have any spare pages to show them on the Toned Grey paper.

I already find these colours incredibly useful additions to my palette. Having now swapped to the Toned Tan sketchbook I’ll be interested to see how they go on the warmer background.

test colours on toned-tan paper, greys and neutrals

test colours on toned-tan paper, greys and neutrals

And just because I can , I’ve forced myself to buy even more watercolours that I’ve seen written about by several artists whose work inspires me. All the colours are from the Daniel Smith company.

These paints have been tried out on watercolour paper with a medium tooth. I love the granulation of the Lunar Black and I think the Buff Titanium is the sort of colour I’ve been after for some time. The Perylene green is for my partner who was after something dark for shadows in vegetation and the Mayan Blue is just because I like it.

Testing new watercolours

Testing new watercolours