Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do you mean by, "…painting with a dry medium" and how does it work? My method of blending is actually that, dry blending/burnishing. In order to be successful with this method of blending it's important to get enough colored pencil pigment on the paper or it will not work. In other words, the paper has to be fairly saturated. The brush can only pick up a little bit of pigment so it's basically just smearing it around. If there's not enough pigment on the paper it will damage your work.
2. What kind of colored pencils do you use? I only use Prismacolor Premier. The primary reason is because they have more wax in them than most of the other brands. The wax-based pigment tends to adhere to the paper better. Most other brands are oil based so the pigment is harder. I've also noticed that the oil-based pigments do not adhere as well when applied to the sandpaper. For me, that creates another problem because I blend the pigment with a brush. The wax-based pigment will blend whereas the other pigments appear to sweep off the paper.
Please note: Some of the Prismacolors are softer than others while some are harder; therefore they do not all blend easily nor equally. The reds for instance are soft whereas the greens are hard which makes them more difficult to blend. I recommend you practice on something small and work up to something large rather than experimenting on something you've spent hours or days on.
3. What kind of sandpaper do you use? I use Uart sandpaper, 800 grit. Uart is a fine art sandpaper manufactured by Uneeda. It is produced with a neutral pH backing. The papers are available in four grits ranging from P400 (coarse) - P800 (very fine). It is available in sheets in a variety of sizes, and rolls in all surfaces.
I love the feel of this paper and the fact that it's capable of taking numerous layers of pigment. In fact, I can't say that I've ever filled it up. However, after working on it for quite some time I discovered it has a grain. I've learned therefore if I want to achieve optimum results it's necessary to not only apply my colored pencil pigment across the grain and at diagonals, it's also necessary to blend directionally (across the grain and at diagonals) with the brush.
Uart paper is also available mounted on 100% archival 4 ply Conservation Board. The result is a product that is sturdy and resists buckling. The mounting board is a little larger on all sides for ease in taping your painting to a drawing board. It also makes your Uart Board easy to mat and frame when finished! Uart Board is available in P400 & P800 grit. To learn more check out their webpage.
4. Where can I get the UArt sandpaper? Jerry's Artarama, Dick Blick, Dakota Art and many others. You can also click on the Store Locator link that is on the UArt web page to find a list of carriers.
5. What colors does the Uart come in? It only comes in a neutral beige and black.
Please note: If you'd like to try the brush on sandpaper I recommend you first become proficient on paper. When you are ready to try be sure you've applied a sufficient amount of pigment. Not only is it more difficult to blend if you don't have enough pigment it just won't work. And be sure you have several brushes on hand, as the sandpaper will wear the bristles down.
6. What brand of paper do you recommend? For my purposes I prefer Canson Mi-Teintes however, it has two sides. You will get better results if you work on the smooth side. Mi-Teintes is a slightly toothy paper that readily accepts multiple layers of pigment. The brush will not damage the surface of the paper if a sufficient amount of pigment is applied. However, after working on sandpaper I discovered the Canson, like the sandpaper, has a grain. Once I started working across the grain and at diagonals I got better results. One more thing, I cannot guarantee my method of blending will work on your favorite paper but I can guarantee it will work on the Canson.
7. Where can I get Canson Mi-Teintes paper? Just about anywhere. Most, or all art supply stores carry Canson Mi Teintes as well as the catalog stores like Dick Blick, Jerry's Artarama.
8. Does it come in colors other than white? It comes in many beautiful colors.
9. What kind of brush do you use? My favorite brush has been discontinued so I'm still searching for one that works just as well. It's been long and difficult search. Like a painter who has an assortment of brushes for different purposes, I keep several brushes in various sizes on hand, however whichever brush is used it's important that the bristles are not too long, the bristles are fairly stiff and it is relatively small. If the bristles are too long and not stiff enough, the bristles will just lay down and you won't be able to move any pigment. If they are too short, or too stiff, the brush will remove the pigment....so be careful.
10.Will any brush work? No. I'm sure there are quite a few brushes that will work however it takes time and money to find them.
My favorite brush: One brush that works quite well, and to date is my favorite, is a White Taklon, Flat - Series 280 Fabric Scrubber that I purchase through Scharff Brushes, Inc. I recommend Sizes, 1, 3 & 5. Non only do they work well on paper, they hold up well when used on sandpaper. http://artbrush.com/shop/Series-280-White-Nylon-Fabric-Scrubber-Flat.html
Another brush that works well on paper is a watercolor brush called a "scrubber". There are several brands but as far as I know they are all about the same. They do cost more depending on the brand but as long as you use only them on paper they should last.
11. Where can I get the Scrubbers?
Master's Touch from Hobby Lobby. Sold as White Nylon Scrubber Brushes. There are two packages. Only the smallest three out of the two sets will work.
Creative Mark Scrubber Brushes
Fritch Scrub from Cheap Joe's
Blick Scrubber Brushes from Dick Blick
12. Can I use a larger brush? The "scrubbers" come in a variety of sizes ranging from 2 - 16. I would not recommend you use anything larger than a size 6 in the scrubbers. The size 2 - 4 work great. Both sizes work, however the size 2 works best. A larger brush covers too much area. Since it would not be able to pick up enough pigment to smear around blending would be prohibitive.
13. Is it possible to add color after I've blended with the brush? In some cases you can add more color but only if you used a limited palette. Since the colors flatten once they are blended, making one color, you don't have that color. It's like mixing paint. If you put several colors together and mix them, they no longer are individual colors. They become one unique color. Therefore it would be difficult at best to be able to replicate the color blending makes.
14. What do I do when my brush gets dirty? When it gets dirty just wash it with soap and water and let it dry.
15. Some Artists use a workable fixative between layers, do you do the same? Would my work be safe if I don't spray it with fixative or is it a must? No, I do not use a fixative. I believe using a fixative would hinder the blending process. Once I am finished however I spray with Krylon UV Resistant Clear. The spray eliminates wax bloom permanently, brightens the colors and protects my work.
Please note: Krylon UV Resistant Clear is a permanent acrylic spray. It is NOT workable so be absolutely sure you are finished with your piece before you spray. I believe a fixative or the UV Resistant Clear would protect your work and if you use Prismacolors, eliminate wax bloom, but it's not a must.