Saturday, November 13, 2010

Great Workshop at Daniel Smith's

Yesterday afternoon I headed to Daniel Smith’s in Seattle for a free workshop given by Chicago artist/illustrator Don Colley. This workshop was sponsored by Faber-Castell and explored the characteristics of a variety of Faber-Castell products including Pitt Artist Pens, Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils, Polychromos colored pencils, and pastels for use in multi-media art pieces.

Don Colley is a wonderful speaker and a fabulous artist. His urban sketches created on huge, old, ledger books are truly a wonderful and very characteristic art. His manner was bright and lively as he described the products he uses in his art and illustration work.

Two of the media I use frequently in my artwork are colored pencils and pen & ink. After so many years of use, I had stopped asking a lot of product questions about either tool. I have used Prismacolor pencils for more than 20 years and have been satisfied with them for the most part. As far as ink pens go, I definitely have my favorites, with the Pitt Superfine (S) black pen being among them. I have also used the Pitt artist brush pens on a limited basis, with my primary use being calligraphy. I have been delighted with the Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils and have a large set of them. My painting “Please May I Come Up,” is done in the AD watercolor pencils. 

With all that said, I was surprised and delighted to learn some amazing new things at the workshop yesterday.

Pitt Artist Pens:
  • Are just pigment and water and therefore have no odor like other markers. (I had not paid attention to this before but now that you mention it…)
  • Will set up and be permanent and waterproof but can be smudged immediately after they’re laid down.
  • Are transparent and can be built up in layers like other wet media.
Polychromos Colored Pencils:
  • Are bound in oil (not wax as are Prismacolors) and so will not “bloom” when laid down in heavy concentrations of color. Waxy bloom is observed as a white sheen that can make a piece look dull and opaque. As I use heavy concentrations of color in my colored pencil pieces, not having to worry about waxy bloom building up is a huge revelation for me!
  • According to the Faber-Castell website the color leads are 3.8mm, break-resistant, water-resistant, and smudge-proof.  The Polychromos leads are glued down the entire (inside) length of the pencil casing thereby creating a stronger pencil overall.
  • All the Faber-Castell products (pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, pastels) are color-indexed and each same-numbered color will be consistent across the entire product line.
I tried this out for myself when I got home. I have exactly one Polychromos colored pencil, #173 (Olive Green Yellowish) that I was given after the workshop as a free sample. I already owned the matching Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil, as well as a similar-colored Pitt artist pen #167 (Permanent Green Olive). I added Pitt pen #103 (Ivory) and a Rembrandt Polycolor White colored pencil and played around on a sheet of Bogus Recycled Paper.

Here’s are result. Perfect matches for color between the Polychromos and the AD watercolor pencils and a close match with the similar (but not exact number) Pitt brush pen. A success! I may now have to invest in a line of the Polychromos colored pencils since I won’t be able to mix and match them with my old Prismacolors. That would be oil and water! (or at least oil and wax – not a good match…)

Many thanks to DS blogger Deborah Burns for the timely heads’ up about this great workshop. A super afternoon event at Daniel Smith’s!


  1. Hi Sara,

    Excellent summary of Don Colley's Faber-Castell workshop! I am so glad you were able to come and very happy to have met you finally!


    and DS on Facebook

  2. wow, excellent description of the workshop. I just got back home, I had to go back and buy those Pitt pens.

  3. Mimi: I totally understand that. Don's artwork examples were so inspiring that I'm trying out some new stuff with the Pitt pens myself today. :-)

    Deborah: I feel just the same. :-)