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YOU TEND TO GET THE QUALITY YOU PAY FOR ………… But sometimes you don’t Over the last year or so I have noted the arrival on the UK market of a wide range of low price coloured pencils - both watercolour and waxy. These are often imported from Eastern Asia but on many occasions it is impossible to tell where they come from unless you buy the product and investigate the small print on the tin or box. Many times these come with glowing reports on the internet from people who have purchased them.  This can be no true guide as to quality for serious art use as you don’t know what the skills are of the people reporting. A common price point here on the Internet is around £25 for a set of 72 colours. or 30 pence each if you account for the tin. Compare this with the £3 a pencil list price for the top of the range brands. A new arrival in recent months has been the White Nights watercolour pencil sets marketed in the UK by the SAA group.  These are from a reputable USSR manufacturer who has been producing good watercolours for many years.   I have indulged in a set to see if they are as good as the watercolours the company is famed for.  I find that they are certainly nothing special and have one or two annoying features   I have included my test in the brands section.
New Items on the market
12th September 2018
AS PART OF THE CARAN D’ACHE 30th Anniversary celebrations for the Supracolor brand of watercolour pencils, they have issued some rather nice ( and expensive) wooden box sets, but the big news for me is the 30th ANNIVERSARY EXTRA COLOURS SET One of the facts of life with Supracolor aquarelles was that they were ideal for Landscape artists with a super range of greens and browns, but when compared with their nearest competitor, Faber Castell, they were poorer on the reds and yellows. But then Faber Castell were not as good on the greens and browns ! I should hasten to say that the 120 range isn’t at all bad, it is just that there are fewer reds and yellows than one might like. The developers at CDA have brought out a box of 30 extra colours to celebrate the 30th anniversary and guess what ?    They have a nice collection of the colours to bring what is now a 150 colour range close to perfect.
DERWENT LIGHTFAST COLOURED PENCILS Derwent have released this new line for sale in the UK from the end of June.   Initially 36 colours in the set but more will be added to the range as testing is completed.    The aim is for all the colours in the range to be lightfast to ASTMS highest level (LF1). There are several reviews on the Internet and all seem quite positive with some misgivings over the recommended retail price ( between £2.50 and £3 per pencil - making them among the dearest on the market ).   I haven’t seen the pencils yet, and will comment further when I get my hands on some. The price may not prove a barrier to some artists, but at the moment the small size of the set and the high price does not enable them to compete head to head with CDA Luminance who offer a set of 76 - ( though not all Luminance are ASTMS LF1.) The other brand offering lightfastness across the brand is the Talens Van Gogh CP set, though Talens state that they comply with ASTMS lightfastness grades, they are not specific as to the exact LF grades , but our own tests indicated a good standard and the pencils come in at around £1.20 each. An interesting development Updated Sept 8th 2018
The set makes a good selection on its own, but the colours are all additional to the standard 120 and we get two sepias as well as some very desireable additions.  I believe that stock is limited and you may need to hunt around for supplies.  In the UK, Jacksons Art say they expect more stock early in October.   Recommended retail in the UK is £75 for the 30 pencil set, and Jacksons list them at £63 ( when they get them ).  If you use Supracolor these will be a ‘must’
From time to time, information is added here which covers events and products that may be of interest.  The items my only be here for a short time and usually also contain links to more information elsewhere.   Information is not archived and is deleted when removed, so if you are interested in an item, please make a note.  Thank You
Posted here September 22nd
13th NOVEMBER 2018 I have done some updating to the SURFACES SECTION which has been an area overdue for attention.  The original pages included some paper testing, mainly on typical Wax Pencil sufaces. Whilst I still include the paper tests done a couple of years ago, I am undecided whether there is a need to do similar tests on Watercolour pencil surfaces and Pastel pencil surfaces.  If there is a need, let me know.  If no one contacts me I will assume there is no demand.
Peter Weatherill Personal pages
13th December 2018 As usual around this time of year we see a lot of new products appearing  and this year a number of new products from companies not usually seen in the Coloured Pencil world.  I note sets of wax type and watercolour pencils branded as Winsor & Newton are advertised and promoted in set sizes from 12 up to 48.  Priced at around £1 a pencil from a company not usually known as a pencil manufacturer, these pencil ranges & products will most often be produced in the Far East - possibly China.  It is not easy to keep pace these days ! and  I no longer try to test all new products announced.  Generally the quality of these pencils will be good if they are in the low to mid price range ( £1 each )  I suggest caution if coloured pencils are priced much lower.  Let me know if you buy and have particular thoughts on their quality.  Winsor & Newton are part of a large International art products group and one would expect a new line made for them to be of good quality.  This is not always so, but should be in this case.   I suspect that if they were of European manufacture, the cost would be higher.