beechwood pastel painting


Blending Coloured Pencils using Zest-it - techniques.

This article was written in 2004 when we first introduced the Zest-it Pencil Blend.
A few years ago my daughter took to Coloured Pencils like 'a duck takes to water'. We had discussion on Watercolour paper and other supports - she tried them all to find what best suited her way of working. We tested the various coloured pencils with Zest-it as a blending medium - Derwent Drawing and Caran d'Ache pencils gave the blended result she was looking for, Zest-it worked so well with the waxy stripe of these coloured pencils and it leaves no marks or residue on the paper.
We also pondered the use of photographs and/or working from life - so, with digital camera in hand, pastels and coloured pencils in a 'hold all', accompanied with some sustenance, we took a few day trips out into the countryside.
I thought those of you interested in coloured pencil work, may like to see the results of her study and observation, also the techniques she uses. If you are just starting with Pencils, this could be an approach to use.

She made colour charts of the Pencils on the different supports, the paper that has become her favourite is Whatman Hot Pressed 140 lb. (Whatman paper has now been replaced by Millford). Most watercolour papers work just fine.
The charts on the right is Derwent Drawing Pencils on the same Whatman paper.
In 2008 Luminance pencils by Caran d'Ache with their wider range of colours and lightfast properties took on equal standing.

derwent drawing pencil colour chartsderwent drawing pencil charts

The examples on the right are Derwent Drawing pencils as they look applied to the Whatman paper and then blended with a brush using Zest-it Pencil Blend (see update below).

To have control over the amount of Zest-it used, she 'wets' a piece of kitchen towel, this is placed in a pot with a screw lid, she touches the brush on the towel to pick-up the required amount of Zest-it. The brush she uses is fairly stiff but with soft filaments.
*This method has now been replaced with our Zest-it Blending Sponge.

Experiment to find what suites you best.

blended coloured pencil with zest-it pencil blendcoloured pencil blended with zest-it pencil blend
Click either, to see the blends in more detail.

This was her first 'proper' coloured pencil painting, after all the playing, experimenting and generally getting to know your tools. Testing the colours on the side of a drawing is a useful practice whilst still getting use to the materials. She didn't aim for a masterpiece with her first one, which is a good attitude to take, (personally I think it's not far off), and she's rightfully proud of it.

With all of these pencil colours it's easy to make a 'wash' of the colour for under-painting. This mushroom was under-painted with "Wheat" from the Drawing range, it ties the painting together and also gives a tonal value to work from.

first mushroom with colored pencils
Click to see more detail

This was her second painting, it was drawn first using coloured pencil. The whole mushroom was under-painted using Zest-it Pencil Blend with "Wheat", for the main body and "Warm Grey" for the shadows under the cap. This was from life, unfortunately the mushroom deceased before the painting was finished, but I know she found it a good learning exercise.

You may be wondering 'why mushrooms'? It's often best to start with something fairly simple but that you find interesting - mushrooms filled that criteria for her.

The study of them has paid off, because when we're at art show's, I'm painting with oils (of course!) and she is demonstrating 'pencil blending' - mushrooms of all shapes and sizes are now drawn and blended without a second thought!

second mushroom blended with coloured pencils
click to see the coloured pencil work on this Mushroom in more detail

 If you apply further pencil before the Zest-it is dry, it will tend to 'drag' across the surface and look darker in colour, the colour will return to normal as the Zest-it dries. Using under-painting allows you to have colour without using up the tooth of the paper.

The Mallard on the right, is a work in progress, showing the under-painting and the building of layers as the painting progresses.

I hope this has given you an in-sight into using Zest-it Pencil Blend with your Coloured Pencils.

mallard picture using coloured pencils
Mallard pencil drawing


Artwork Tracey Blackman 2004ackman 2004

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Copyright   1999 Jacqui Blackman
All Artwork Jacqui Blackman and Tracey Blackman