8 Reasons to Give Colored Pencils a Try

By Carrie Lewis in Misc > Art Opinion

Are you looking for a new art medium? Maybe you’ve been considering colored pencils, but need a few reasons to really give them a shot. . . if so, I know exactly how you feel. I once was right where you are now.

So let me share several excellent reasons to at least give colored pencils a try:

Reason #1: They’re relatively inexpensive

You can spend $4 on a colored pencil if you want, but you don’t have to. And if you’re just getting started, you probably shouldn’t.


For most people who want to try colored pencils, the basic colored pencils you find at Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart are a good place to begin.

Granted, you won’t get the same results with inexpensive pencils, but you can often find Prismacolor Premier pencils in such locations, and they are an artist quality pencil, even given quality control issues.

You don’t need the full set, either. A set of 12 gives you enough colors to try. You’ll be able to see how they feel to draw with, how they go onto paper, and how they look when you layer various colors one over another.

And if 12 colored pencils still seem expensive, just take a look at the get-started supplies for oil painting, watercolor, or acrylics! Those make pencils look a lot more reasonable in price.

Reason #2: You can get them almost anywhere

Most Wal-Mart type stores carry colored pencils in some form. So do most office supply stores and even some print shops. And of course colored pencils are a staple at most hobby shops, art stores, and crafting supply stores. You can even buy them from eBay and Amazon if you don’t mind paying for shipping.

One word of warning, however. The pencils you find in many discount stores are probably not going to be artist quality, or even student quality. They will color, but the results will not be the same as you’d get with higher quality pencils. You’ll probably enjoy them more if you find an artist- or student-quality brand.

Reason #3: You don’t need special equipment

No fancy easels, canvases, or dozens of brushes. No paint thinners or drying retardants. No varnishes or fixatives.


Just pencils, paper, and a sharpener.

You don’t even need an eraser, since most erasers don’t work with colored pencils anyway. Unless, of course, you’re using Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. They’re designed to be erase-able and I’ve heard they’re a decent quality pencil.

Reason #4: You won’t need solvents or toxic materials

You can use a wide range of drawing techniques with colored pencils without using smelly or toxic solvents. Many artists, even advanced artists, don’t use any of those tools and they produce vibrant, real-to-life works of art.

You can use those things if you wish. They can be time saving tools if you decide colored pencil is your medium. But if you’re just getting started, leave those things on the shelf. Spend your money on an extra sheet or pad of paper instead!

Reason #5: They’re clean

Colored pencils are a dry medium. They go on the paper dry and they stay dry. You don’t need to worry about cleaning up afterward, unless you spill shavings out of your sharpener. That’s why I now use them exclusively. Even in the studio, they’re mess-free!


Reason #6: They’re safe and non-toxic

I mentioned above that you don’t need toxic solvents or other materials to use colored pencils. The even better news is that most colored pencils are also non-toxic. So long as you don’t try to eat them (or poke yourself with a sharp one) they’re safe for artists of all ages to use.

Reason #7: They’re incredibly portable

This is the primary reason I took up colored pencils years ago. They’re extremely portable. Because they’re clean and dry, you can travel with them and use them almost anywhere without worrying about making a mess (or leaving one).

I took them to horse shows and other venues, and was able to work on my artwork while directly on site. They were a lot easier to travel with than the oil paints I’d been using for years.

Reason #8: They. . . also look good in jars

Okay, this has nothing to do with making art and everything to do with aesthetics. And I openly admit this is entirely personal. . . but I love the way colored pencils look in their trays. All those colors, new in the box, just waiting to be used. Who could possibly ask for more?


And you know what I really like?

Putting a bunch of colored pencils in glass containers, like a colored pencil bouquet. Cut glass containers are especially nice, with all those reflections and the light shining through them. Man oh man! Talk about eye candy.

I also save the tiny stubs (when they get too short to sharpen) in a glass candy jar. That serves no purpose whatsoever, but I like the way it looks with all those colors in it. The perfect studio décor accent, if you ask me.

And there you have it. Seven art-related reason and one highly personal reason to give colored pencils a try. So go ahead. Get that box of pencils you’ve been looking at all this time. You never know. They may be the perfect medium for you!


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