I generally use the Faber-Castell Colored Pencils, which are vegetable oil based, but I also use PrismaColor Premier from time to time. I normally use Odorless Mineral Spirits to blend, but it is a toxic substance and so not something I normally want to travel with. What are some other possibilities for blending that can be used, especially for those that want to work on their art when traveling?
An alternative is to travel with watercolour pencils. I have recently started to use them, and the blending solvent is water (obviously!).
The pencils can be used dry—like normal colored pencils—or they can be applied "wet" to get the desired watercolor effect. In wet application, the artist first lays down the dry pigment and then follows up with a damp paintbrush to intensify and spread the colors. This technique can also be used to blend colors together, and many artists will apply both techniques in one art piece. Artist-grade watercolor pencils typically come in 60 or 72 colors with a few 120 color assortments.
Faber-Castell and Curan D'Ache have beautiful sets, but as I'm only starting out I'm currently using Derwent.
Possibilities for blending depend on the extent and/or stylistic appearance of the blending you want to achieve. You can blend mechanically by using readily available tools that are small and lightweight:
- Your fingers, bare or wrapped with a small cloth or tissue, are always with you.
- Blending stumps or tortillions allow more precise blending than with your fingers.
- A kneaded eraser also allows more precision blending as well as a way to pick up media, creating highlights. They are extremely effective when using graphite pencils/powder and with charcoal.
- You can utilize Impressionist techniques of laying down various colors that then blend in the eye and brain of the observer. Georges Seurat and his pointillism technique are good examples of that. An oldie but a goodie.
Never be afraid to experiment - you can do so before you leave to increase your confidence. Also don't forget to experiment with various types of papers.
Here are some links that illustrate and explain the use of these blending tools:
I think you'll enjoy sketching your way around the globe:
- The materials are lighter, less bulky, and more rugged than carrying an expensive camera and lenses.
- Others will be interested in what you are doing: this is an excellent way to meet new people and exchange information with them.
- You never have to worry about locking your materials in a safe when you leave your room, like you would a camera.
- If your materials are lost, they are relatively quick and inexpensive to replace.
- You can remove completed drawings from a sketchbook and mail them home as you go along. They will then be immune to theft.
Have many good trips.
Depending on the size of your set you can use the colours themselves I don't have a blender and even though I use caren d'ache I prefer to use a white pencil apposed to water I find this easier than buying a blender as well and doesn't compromise the colour like water might. I have previously found that blenders are very hard to use so by building up the colors in layers you can blend them with each other.