Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Why we need so many brands of pencils?

Have you had new pencils for Christmas? Maybe you treated yourself for a new brand of pencils because others spoke of their quality or colours. In any case, you may wonder why we have so many types and brands of pencils.

Pencils, all varieties of pencils, have characteristics peculiar to them. It all depends on the 'recipe' of the manufacturer and the purpose it aims to achieve in the type of pencil produced.

I have a wide range of pencils in my 'collection', but I don't see the seem that a collection, but rather a range of tools in my workshop. There is no one spanner which will fit all nuts and bolts. Same goes for pencils. I get to know my pencils well, by 'playing' with them and pushing them to their limits to see what they are capable of achieving.

So what is the deal then with the different pencils? I try to discover the characteristics and identify the possibilities of the different pencil brands. Of course, the personal preference comes into it, but don't be put off from exploring the brands you are not familiar with.

I have listed below so characteristics to help you discover the potential in your collection of pencils:

- Pigment permanence
- Wax or Oil based
- Soft and crumbly
- Soft and creamy
- Hard and crumbly
- Hard and scratchy
- Waxy and creamy
- Do they sharpen well without breaking
- Do they hold their point well
- Do they lose their point quickly
- How do they behave on different paper surfaces
- Are they water soluble
- Do they retain their colour after applying water
- Does the pigment dissolve well

I'm sure more can be added to the above list, but you can see from the above there are different but very useful characteristics. For example, if the pigment does not fully dissolve is not necessarily a bad thing; think of texture, sand on a beach etc.

Happy New Year! :)


Monday, 30 November 2015

What makes a good coloured pencils project?

When my students start working with coloured pencils they often ask, "what is a good subject to draw/paint?".

My answer is whatever you want BUT! For a beginning coloured pencils artist it can be overwhelming, so I have listed below some pointers which I hope will be useful to anyone thinking of using our wonderful and versatile medium:

- Join the UKCPS, the benefits are too numerous to list here!

- Choose subjects which you are familiar with

- Start simple and build up to more complex subjects,patterns, and shading etc.

- Keep the work down to manageable size to begin with, e.g A5 instead of A4

- Experiment with different papers and surfaces until you find the right one for

- There is no one brand or type of pencils which will do everything you want!
  Again, experiment until you find the brand/type which you are happy with their

- Invest in a good pencil sharpener

- Book yourself with one of the UKCPS artists who also teach

- Look at existing works done with coloured pencils, what do you find attracts
  you to them, how was the subject handled, what is the focus of the work

- Practice shading with your chosen pencils, this will help you also to get to
  know your pencils

- Practice laying down light/thin layers

 I am sure there are many other hints and tips, but the most important tip of all
 is to practice and practice, there are no short cuts!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Does it really matter?

I was discussing with my students the other day classical drawing techniques and we were looking at drawings by Rubens, Raphael and others. Not surprisingly, we found they have all used different techniques to compose and layout their drawings and paintings. 

This led me to think about what we have today in terms of drawing aids and tools. take for example the Grid Technique. It has been used by Rubens, as evidenced in his drawings.

Scale Finder using the grid technique
But it doesn't stop there, Gray Value finder and the Proportional Dividers blow are just some of the tools

Proportional Dividers

All of the above tools help us with our drawing and painting. But these tools are not new, we are talking hundreds of years.

The romantic notion that true artists just sit there in a kind of trance and deliver outstanding drawing and paintings is just not true. Ask an artist! This perception by the general public makes many new comers and seasoned artists think that they are "cheating" if they use any kind of tool to help them with their artwork.

Creating art is not about the tools, but about what the artist is trying to communicate, their joy with the colours or form of a subject, texture etc.  If the tools exist which could help the artist in the process of their artwork, there should be no reason why they cannot be employed.

Don't be put off by what people might think about how you created you artwork. If you enjoyed creating it then the creation process has achieved its aim.

Enjoy your art however you do it because it doesn't matter how you create it!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Posting your artwork

We all at one time or another have to post, transport, or ship our artwork. Be it for competitions, buyers, friends and family, the artwork must arrive in perfect condition. In pursuit of guidance on this subject I came across these websites and thought I would share it with you.!.aspx

Let us know how you ship your artwork and any hints and tips. I will collate all replies.


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Look after you paper!

Autumn is a lovely time of the year, full of colours and moods. BUT! This time of the year the humidity will rise markedly compared to summer. As we know, paper absorbs moisture readily, as a result the paper surface will be quite soft to what you were normally used to. Try to store your paper in a dry place but away from heat as you don't want to dry it totally which will result in brittle paper!

So be careful with those sharp points on your pencils!

Happy Painting :)

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Big Draw Competition Call For Entries

Entries are now called for the Big Draw Competition deadline is the 23 November 2015. The theme for this is year is Recording Britian: Society. Winners and shortlisted entries will be included in the high profile exhibition at the New Gallery, Walsall.

In the words of the Big Draw competition headline:

         "This year we invite emerging and established artists to respond to the theme: Recording Britain Now: Society, to re-assess their practice and focus on the prevalent social issues of 2015/16. In the same way that Recording Britain sought to map familiar townscapes and countryside under threat, this will be an invitation to engage with a society in rapid transition."

Judging from the above, the expectation is that to focus on social issues, for example homelessness. Obviously the interpretation is down to the artist. As usual please make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules and submission deadlines and requirements.


Friday, 25 September 2015

UART Coloured Pencils Competition 2015

UART are running an online coloured pencils competitionn ( Link to website ). UART is an American company which is branching into the art world by producing speciality paper for pastel painting. The company is known for the sandpaper it produces for DIY and industrial uses. The company has created a sanded paper specially for pastel painting.

The competition is sponsored by a number of sponsors including Prismacolour and Coloured Pencil Magazines. There are a number of substantial prizes for winning works. Submissions are now being accepted and the closing date is Midnight 13 November 2015. Members wishing to enter the competition need to read the competition rules carefully in order to have their work considered. Members please note that there are non-refundable fees for any work submitted for consideration. The competition is judged by one person, by Deborah Friedman CPSA.

It would be helpful if any members submitting work for consideration could let us know how they get on.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Colouring-in Books - A Fad?

Colouring-in books a fad?

What do you think of the recent surge in colouring books for adults. You might have tried them, I haven't. To me coloured pencils are just as good as any other painting medium. But is the use of colouring books a good thing or bad for coloured pencils?

Some coloured pencils users might think this is undermining our wonderful medium and hobby. It might be argued that colouring in someone else's design is not necessarily art in the sense creativity. There is no creativity if it is just a case of filling in the gaps. No thinking , planning, composition, working out lights and darks etc.

Think of it this way: those people who are using coloured pencils with colouring books are in fact spreading the word about coloured pencils, they could become fully fledged artists, they could become people who will appreciate art made with coloured pencils, and may even buy coloured pencil art. So its not a bad thing, coloured pencils as medium will benefit from the publicity. I just wish the media stop calling them crayons!

The only reservation I have is that the colouring books are a fad or craze, how long it will last your guess is as good as mine. What will happen when the fad has gone stale? Will people start to think of coloured pencils as an old fashioned medium? Or worse still as a beginners medium which should not be taken seriously? Or even the public might think coloured pencils are not a serious medium if people use it to colour-in books!

What do you, coloured pencils practitioners, think?

Guest blog post by Mo Awkati

Art in Action

Come and see us at Art in Action!

The UKCPS at Art in Action 16-19th July 2015:  10am - 5.30pm

Just a reminder that we will be at this prestigious visual arts festival and we hope to see you there next month.

If you would like to advertise your forthcoming coloured pencil workshops, exhibitions or events at Art in Action please send Pauline a digital flier by 10th July to

A great opportunity to promote your event to a wider audience.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Members Only Exhibitions

Enter these members only exhibitions -

Keswick and our 2nd Regional Exhibition at Richmond, Yorkshire

Two more opportunities to exhibit your coloured pencil pictures at our members only exhibitions - we look forward to receiving your entries.

The Pencil Museum, Keswick
29 August - 3 October 2015
Closing Date 19th July 2015

Members may enter 1 picture free of charge.

The Station Gallery, Richmond, Yorks
2nd UKCPS Regional Exhibition
3-14 October 2015
Closing Date 10th August 2015

Members may enter up to 5 pictures - £5 per picture

Rules and Entry Forms can be found on our website.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

13th 'World of Coloured Pencil' Exhibition 2015

13th 'World of Coloured Pencil' Exhibition 2015


Alan Jones -Beau
2014 Derwent Best in Show

Venue: The Cumberland Pencil Museum, Keswick, CA12 5NG
Saturday 29th August - Saturday 3rd October 2015

Free entry open to all UKCPS members only, 24 pictures chosen by ballot. Pure coloured pencil or mixed media with coloured pencil as the main medium.

Closing date for entries 19th July 2015.

Entry is online only. Please ensure you read the rules of entry before completing the entry form.
When completing your entry form you will need your image in jpg format, max size of file 5MB, ready to upload. You will also need following info:
Title of Picture
Price including commission
Dimensions: Height x Width in cm - framed and unframed
Information for label - materials used and brief description of why you chose the subject.

Derwent - Best in Show and People's Award.
UKCPS - 'Reserve Best in Show' and 'Runner Up' plus award for a 'Best Local Group Member'.
Leisure Painter - 'Best Newcomer to Coloured Pencil'.
People's Prize based on votes from exhibition visitors

Thanks to our sponsors:
Derwent logo

UKCPS 2nd Regional Exhibition

Art in Action

The UKCPS at Art in Action 16-19th July 2015:  10am - 5.30pm

Art in Action is a prestigious visual arts festival held each year at Waterperry Gardens, Oxford OX33 1JZ with 400 artists, craftsmen, performers and musicians.  There are also practical classes, art materials, a market and plenty of food stalls.

For the first time the UKCPS will have a stand in the Materials Marquee next to Jakar.  Please come and support us, we like to meet our members so do introduce yourself and get to know your volunteers.  We will be demonstrating with Caran d'Ache pencils and you will have the opportunity to try some yourself on our have a go table, friends and family welcome.

Demonstrators on our stand:

Suzy Herbert, Robert Strange, Morryce Maddams every day.
Malcolm Cudmore - Thursday and Friday
Judith Selcuk - Saturday and Sunday
and our President Pat Heffer - Friday and Sunday.

Other members and helpers will be stewarding too.  We thank everyone who has volunteered.

If you've never been you will be amazed at the size of the event, one day is hardly sufficient time to see everything it's well worth a visit we look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ann Kullberg Workshop

Ann Kullberg has an upcoming workshop in the UK-

Workshop Info:

There are currently have 12 of 16 spots open, though we expect it will fill spots very quickly indeed. Get your name down quickly!

Photographing Art Work

A helpful and handy blog on photographing your own art work -

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Art and Craft Days

We have a one day course on Monday 1st June -A beginners Guide to Painting with Coloured Pencils - Tutor Janie Pirie Price £70 and a two day course on Mon & Tues 19th & 20th October Drawing Portraits from Photographs - Coloured Pencils Tutor Janie Pirie £140

All workshops include lunch and refreshments.

Art and Craft Days
The Butterfly Art & Craft Studio
Flacks Green
Essex, CM3 2QS
Tel: 01245 233459

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ilkley Art Show

A message from Ilkley Art Show:

I would like to send you further details about this summer's Ilkley Art Show to share with your members. This year we have special offers for Art Clubs and Societies!

The main details for you are:
Friday August 14th / Saturday 15th August 10am – 4pm each day

At Ilkley's fabulous Kings Hall and Winter Gardens : right in the centre of our spa town.

Art Exhibition – Demonstrations – Discounted Art Materials – Workshops -

Tickets for your Art Club/Society are available at 5 for the price of 4. Groups of 5 will also receive complimentary vouchers to use throughout the show. Contact us now to book.

I have a couple of A4 posters which I can send now for you to display to inform your members, and will have further details about the demonstrators, the workshops on offer and the exhibition in a few weeks time. Please contact me for further information.

Kind Regards,

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Try Pencils Event

We regret to announce that the Try Pencils afternoon arranged for this coming Saturday (11th of April) has been cancelled. This is due to a family matter and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Try Pencils Afternoon!

Easter is nearly here!

Will you suffer from post-Easter depression?
Will you be stressed out because you ate too much chocolate?

Then why not come and ease yourself back to normality with a ....


SATURDAY 11TH APRIL at St Chad's Church Hall, Roslyn Road, Irby, Wirral, CH61 3UH
1pm to 4pm, tea/coffee & biscuits provided.  

As usual, I will provide A4 cartridge paper, plus coloured pencils by various manufacturers
for you to try out, and a step-by-step project to work on.  All for the ridiculous cost of £5!

By all means bring your own paper, projects, or pencils - and if you wish to use graphite then
 that is fine also!  Bring a drawing board if you have one.

Please let me know if you are coming (so that I know how many biscuits to buy!)

Best regards

UKCPS Annual Open Exhibition 2015 - Menier Gallery, London

UKCPS Annual Open Exhbition 2015 - Menier Gallery, London
The artists have now been selected, congratulations to you all and commiserations to those who did not get selected. You can see a list of the successful artists at our website.

We hope you will be visiting the exhibition which is open from Wednesday, 6th May to Saturday, 16th May (closed Sundays). Full opening times are on the website.

There will be at least one artist in the gallery every day demonstrating coloured pencil and ready to chat about our favourite medium. Full timetable as listed below:

Wednesday 6th May - Judith Heilbronn-Crown
Thursday 7th May - Morryce Maddams
Friday 8th May - Sue Clinker and Karen Coulson
Saturday 9th May - Debi Hide
Monday 11th May - Malcolm Cudmore
Tuesday 12th May - Malcolm Cudmore
Wednesday 13th May - Morryce Maddams
Thursday 14th May - Suzy Herbert
Friday 15th May - Suzy Herbert
Saturday 16th May - Victoria Parsons

The Private View is on Wednesday 6th May at 6.30pm, if you would like an invitation please email with your name and address. Please note, all those who entered the competition will automatically be sent an invitation.

Are you able to help??
We are still looking for helpers - can you assist with any of the following:

Stewards - we still have some gaps in our rota, if you can spare a few hours when you come to visit please contact Pat Heffer at

Do you have a van (or know of a driver with a van) - we need someone who can transport our card holders and racks from a storage unit near Birmingham to London on Tuesday 5th May. Petrol costs will be reimbursed. Please contact Barbara Murray at

Do you have any prints or pictures for our Silent Auction? This is a great way of raising funds for the society and we would appreciate any works you can offer. Please contact Pat Heffer at

Monday, 9 February 2015

UKCPS Open Exhibition 2015

UKCPS Annual Open Exhibition 2015

Menier Gallery, London - 6th-16th May 2015

If you have not already submitted your entry this is a reminder that you have less than 2 days to do so.

All entries need to be in by midnight of 11th February - just go to our website, check the rules and complete the entry form.

If you are a full member it will cost you nothing to submit one picture, but you will have to get the picture to London (and collect) should your picture be selected for hanging.

We look forward to seeing your pictures and good luck!


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