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Information, Choices, Techniques and Advice on all Pencil Matters

COLOURED PENCILS - WATERCOLOUR PENCILS - PASTEL PENCILS - GRAPHITE PENCILS

Over 150 detailed pages of information for beginners and improvers to help you develop your skills



PENCIL TOPICS

Latest revision  March 2015

A look  at the different options with a step by step example MIXED MEDIA

The note below relates only to those who intend to enter exhibitions mounted by the UKCPS or CPSA. The original note here has been re-written to try and make more sense of the situation for those who have not exhibited before.

The position is confusing - and trying to explain it can be even more confusing !!

The rules are often revised annually, so please double check anything written here before relying on it for exhibition entry

WHAT IS A ‘PURE’ COLOURED PENCIL and WHAT IS ‘MIXED MEDIA’ WHEN CONSIDERING COLOURED PENCIL ?


The specifications are laid down by the two major Coloured Pencil Societies for managing entry into their Exhibitions.  

You only need concern yourself with this area if you propose to enter an exhibition at some future time.


Whilst I may sometimes appear critical of the rules, it is entirely a matter for the Societies to set the conditions of entry to their exhibitions, and whilst they may have appeared in the past to be confusing and illogical, the societies have every right to establish whatever rules they see fit. Hopefully the rule changes set up in 2012 and 2013 will help clarify the position.


The CPSA in America set a very simple requirement for entry and stated ( 2012)  that :


• Media must be 100% colored pencil. Use of any other media (watercolor, acrylic, oil, ink, etc.) or artist prepared surface disqualifies entry.

• Acceptable additions: solvents (e.g., turpentine) and graphite pencil may be used under/between/over layers.

• Artwork must be two-dimensional on a single surface. No collage or montage.

• Artwork must have been completed after a set date for each exhibition and not previously hung in any CPSA exhibition (International or Explore This! ).

• Concept, design and execution of the artwork shall be solely that of the artist. No work copied from copyrighted or published materials.

    No images produced by drawing over a digital reproduction allowed. No prints. No col­laborations.


This sounds simple, and it is.  It does however beg the question as to what is ‘100% Colored Pencil’ ……which is not defined.  

However, The CPSA also run an annual ‘Explore This’ Exhibition which is designated for a wider cross section of media.

The entry rules for this are much broader and specify only that the work should be completed in Coloured Pencil and can include Mixed Media.  

I don’t have an up to date entry form for the CPSA, so I can’t quote the exact terms.  If you are in the USA, or thinking of entering a CPSA exhibition, check the position.  I have tried to check the current position myself ( January 2014 ) but the website at www.cpsa.org seemed to be out of action in late January and I will need to keep checking to see if I can get the conditions of entry from there or somewhere else.  I apologise to my North American readers for this, but the CPSA does seem to be a difficult organisation to get information from, if you are not actually a member !


The United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society made changes in December 2012 which simplified the situation and new rules were applied for their International Open Exhibition in 2013 and the future

UKCPS now has one single class of entry.   The essential factor is that pictures submitted must have at least 50% of the finished surface in Coloured Pencil ( but see definition of ‘Pure CP’ below to understand what is meant by ‘Coloured Pencil’).


If you are entering a UKCPS Open Exhibition, please obtain and read the entry conditions very carefully and take up any queries with the Exhibition Director. DO NOT RELY ON ANY EXPLANATION DETAILED HERE


In brief, PURE Coloured Pencil is simple to explain.  A picture is completed solely using DRY CP media from a wax type coloured pencil with a wood surround. No solvents of any kind are allowed ( water may NOT be used for pure CP ) and the image should be worked using traditional layering techniques.

HOWEVER, the UKCPS rule change for 2013 permitted ANY MEDIA being used in the completion of an entered picture, provided that the Coloured Pencil content from traditional wood cased dry pigment is over 50% of the total.

The remaining  49% or less of the work MAY, if preferred, contain any other medium.

Effectively, this opened up the exhibition to Mixed Media provided the majority of the media used is Dry Coloured Pencil.

There is a separate award given for ‘Best Pure Coloured Pencil’.  Entrants for the Exhibition must list the award categories that their pictures are entered for, so if you are entering a Pure CP work, make sure that the organisers know it is ‘Pure CP’


To understand the difference between ‘Coloured Pencil’ in the UKCPS rule, and Coloured Pencil as understood by most non specialist artists,

It may help you to know the wording of the Call for Entries for the UKCPS 2014 International Exhibition

These are the  current ( 2014 ) rules required for entry as Pure Coloured Pencil

Eligible:

# Coloured Pencils that are wood cased.  May be wax-based, oil-based or water-soluble used dry

# Manufactured coloured support ( paper, board etc.) ·

# Artist prepared uniform background (eg gesso)

Ineligible for Pure Coloured Pencil:

# Pastel, acrylic, oil, ink, watercolour and any other medium which is not pure coloured pencil

There are also ongoing requirements regarding the originality of the subject, but those are not a concern of this article.

However, you are required to observe copyright and use only your own composition.


This change in 2013 opened the door to  the inclusion of Pastel Pencils, as well as Inktense blocks, Watercolour, Watercolour Pencil washes as underpainting and any other media...... as well as a host of modern techniques for managing the colour on the surface

PROVIDED that the Pure CP content is over 50%.  


It does still produce some strange anomalies - such as work completed using only watercolour pencils ( encased in wood ) but where the artist’s only addition is the use of water in the form of a solvent in the early stages.   I can only assume that the 50% rule would apply to the use of DRY watercolour pencil over the water treated watercolour pencil earlier layers.

There is no attempt to define how you measure the percentages - either by volume of materials, or by visible area.  I assume this is another grey area left to the artists discretion.  I am just very glad that I no longer have any obligation to try and set, or explain, the rules on behalf of the Society!

Strictly speaking, water is not a paint medium and I would consider watercolour pencils to be 100% pure CP regardless of the use of water, but no doubt this wording of the rules is an attempt to contain and continue the traditional wax type technique so that the ideals of the founder members of the UKCPS are honoured.


I believe the opening up of the UKCPS Open Exhibition to a much wider range of pencil based products can only be a good thing.  

The purists can remain happy with the option to exhibit tightly controlled work, produced using a limited selection of pencil products.  

The more adventurous can experiment in the knowledge that their efforts in using new techniques are being accepted into the show to compete on a level playing field.  The award for the ‘Best Pure CP Picture in Show’ gives the purists something to aim at.

Members and outside entrants seem to be coping with the changes since 2013, and the move is PROGRESS, and meets a number of my perennial complaints in these pages in the past.


MAY I REMIND ALL READERS TO CHECK THE SOCIETY WEB SITES AND BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND AND FOLLOW ALL ENTRY CONDITIONS FOR EXHIBITIONS

There is nothing worse than to have a picture accepted by a pre show jury, pay the shipping costs to get it to the venue, and then have the picture disqualified because it does not meet the terms of the competition.   Also ensure that the submitted scan or photo of your work with the entry form, is a fair representation of the actual work.  If your picture is accepted for the exhibition and the photo/scan was enhanced to the extent that it does not give a fair representation, when the images are compared, your entry may be rejected for showing.


Where cash awards are made, it is always essential for the organisers to have tight control to ensure an even playing field for all those taking part.

HOWEVER

Where you are working entirely for your own pleasure and the possible pleasure of others who may buy your artwork, the application of rules is irrelevant.





January 2014

Latest Revision  -  January 2014

Next Page

Individual methods of applying colour to paper etc, are classed as media.  Watercolour, Oils, Pastels, Acrylics etc are all treated as separate media for the purposes of teaching, as they each have their own special needs and they are all covered by a wide range of art societies who promote and arrange exhibitions for members.


Coloured Pencils also benefit from having supporting societies, the CPSA in the USA and the UKCPS in Great Britain … though both these organisations have world wide membership.

All such art societies encourage the development of their own particular media and generally make restrictions for the entering of ‘other’ media in their exhibitions.  This is understandable.


HOWEVER, when you are painting for your own pleasure, or the pleasure of other people - and not entering competitive exhibitions, you are totally free to mix media if it suits your interests and style.


Pastel Pencils are not considered by the Societies to be ‘Coloured Pencils’ because they have a radically different handling quality and the pictures that result often need handling differently to those completed with wax pencils.  This may be so, but none the less, the pencils are coloured and are pencils.


Working for your own interest, you are free to use whatever media you like and there are many combinations that work very well, but are not acceptable as ‘pure’ media.


Watercolour pencils make an excellent foundation for wax type pencils

So do Pastel Pencils.

Coloured pencil works well with graphite.


Techniques using combinations of media are being developed all the time and this Topic hopes to explain some of them as well as show you the results of some of the combinations as Step By Step exercises.


If you are aware of a Mixed Media combination not covered here that involves pencils in some way, please let me know and I will be happy to add a further revision.


This Topic has been revised in March 2015

The techniques for using coloured pencils with

1/ Pastel and Pastel Pencils

2/ Watercolour Pencils and Watercolour

and

3/ with other media

have been refreshed, revised and split up into their separate sections,

which follow on immediately.


Below is a general summary of the Topic and some pointers about competition rules as they relate to mixed media use

WORKING COLOURED PENCIL WITH OTHER MEDIA

There is a step by step illustration of the process of working through a picture using pastel and coloured pencil

‘THE ARCHWAY’  which is  covered on the  Page linked to this.  There is also an additional exercise of a cottage entrance.

Other exercises will be added in due course

This section includes several Topics

You can reach them using the links below

‘RULES AND REGULATIONS’


In the past I have made several attempts to explain the requirements of Coloured Pencil Societies as regards Exhibitions and what they term ‘Mixed Media’.  Over the years the rules have been changed several times, both in the UK and in the USA, and there have been progressive updates.   The most recent I am aware of was in early 2014 and there are notes on this below.


YOU ONLY NEED CONCERN YOURSELF ABOUT THIS IF YOU ARE EXHIBITING (OR MAY BE EXHIBITING) IN A COMPETITIVE COMPETITION WHERE IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT ALL EXHIBITORS ARE WORKING TO THE SAME CONDITIONS


In most cases you will be working for your own pleasure, or the pleasure of friends or for private sale, and in these cases it does not matter about the conditions below.  Your picture will merely need to satisfy the new owner (or yourself).


Mixed media work does bring a risk that the different media used may conflict with each other and that may have an impact on the expected life of the image ( colours may fade or the picture surface may deteriorate ).

If you are aware of this and take suitable care/advice, then all should be well.