Sensual and Artful Colored Pencils

They are soft and submissive. Among their beautiful colors are vibrant blues, sunny yellows, rich greens, glowing purples and juicy oranges. They come in pretty tins, sporty nylon carrying cases and polished wooden boxes. They smell good. Their enameled bodies fit your fingers well and respond to the paper with a willingness that excites inspiration. These are good quality colored pencils–not your normal pencil in any way, shape or form. To grasp one, touch its point to paper is, well, a sensual, artful experience.

Do you like to draw? Do you doodle? Have you thought of taking art lessons but didn’t want to spend a lot on materials? Colored pencils are the answer!


Maybe you’ve spent some time drawing–nothing much: caricatures, Disney characters, doodles, etc. Perhaps you’ve even gone so far as investing in a drawing pencil. If you did, you found out that a drawing pencil is quite different from a regular pencil. Its lead is soft and creates dark blacks, solid medium grays and ethereal light grays.

Maybe then you began to think of color, wishing your drawing pencil could be colorful as well. It can be! Out there on the market today are good quality colored pencils that respond well to shading, layering of several colors, blocking in solid colors and making sinuous, expressive lines.

The added attraction of colored pencils, beyond their soft, heavily pigmented leads and willing response to the paper, is their price. A tin of twelve, good quality colored pencils and a good quality 9″ x 12″ sketchpad will be well under twenty dollars. And you are on your way to producing beautiful, brilliant, rich colored drawings that will retain their permanency and color integrity for decades.


Now you have sharpened your colored pencils and you have your sketchpad. What’s next? Start with a doodle. On a new sketchbook page, take one color–it doesn’t matter which one) and draw swirls, lines, dots, dashes, whatever comes to mind. Cover the whole sketch book page. Just take a minute to do it.

Now look closely at the doodle you have done. See what you can find. Trees? Birds? Faces? Whatever you find, delineate the image by going over the image lines by making them darker. Good! Now choose another colored pencil color to fill in the image(s). Now think of the surrounding area of the doodle as the background or environment for your images. 

You must choose certain areas to fill in with various colors. For example, if you found, in your doodle, a shape that looks like a fish, color the fish in, than color the area surrounding the fish with various colors. Keep in mind that you want to emphasize the image. How can you do this?


To emphasize the doodle image you can do several things. You can make the image very dark and then fill in the surrounding area with light colors. Or you can make the image very light and fill in the surrounding areas with dark colors. Or you can use contrasting colors, for example, red-image, blue-background–look closely to see that the image is standing out from the background. I recommend that you choose the option that will be most fun for you to do!


So you’ve done the doodles and are beginning to learn what your colored pencils can do. If you didn’t experiment with making certain areas solid colors or play around with shading several colors together, now is your chance! 

With any colored pencil (color of your choice) draw a circle on a new sketchbook page. You can use a compass or a small plate or other circular object as a template to make the circle. Now imagine that light is coming down on the page from the upper right hand corner. You will want to start shading the circle with a dark color (blue, violet, brown, black) where the light isn’t–that is the left side of the circle. Start slowly, filling in along the left line of the circle. Remember that as you are shading and moving towards the source of illumination (upper right hand corner) your shading will become less. Why? Because your shading, in drawing terms, represents shadow and the white of the sketch book page represent the light.

Amazement! Can you see it? The circle is becoming an illuminated sphere, just by shading. Isn’t it remarkable how we can reproduce the illusion of light and shadow simple by shading and highlighting a simple geometric form?


You’ve gone this far and now you see how cool colored pencils are. You have tapped your imagination through doodling and now you have produced the illusions of space and, consequently, time. How cool is that? Now, go a step further. Where you have produced light by not coloring heavily, bring in a light colored pencil color (yellow, orange, or white.) Now color in that area you left off in shading. Miracles. You will see how the lighter color takes on the role of light–taking over where the white of your sketch book page left off!


If you’ve gotten this far, you are a better person. Why? Because you have tuned into your innate creative powers which nourish your whole body and mind. You’ve learned a new drawing skill, and most importantly, you have beautiful colors to use to visualize whatever image or a dream comes into your mind! Colored pencils are there, waiting in their lovely little tin, nylon carrying case or wooden box. All you need to do is push some of the busywork of the day to one side, sit down, open your sketch book to the infinity of a clean, white page and dip your fingers into the rainbow of colored pencils. Magic!

Or, perhaps you will want to put your sketch book and colored pencils into your back pack with a bottle of water and a sandwich. Then walk out into the world in search of just the right scene or place to record with brilliant color and artful, sensual lines.