Colored Pencil On Copper. Who Knew!?

Posted on June 21, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 1 Comment

by Jan Fagan

Colored pencil is fabulously versatile on paper. But, I also love to see my favorite medium used in unexpected ways and on surprising surfaces. Of course, we’ve all seen it used on wood, fabric, photo paper or clay. Once I even saw some incredible CP work done on Fall leaves! Every time I see something new I vow to try it myself... someday. However, I recently I saw some work by fellow artist, Linda James, in one of the Facebook colored pencil groups. Her post made me stop and get very excited and the moment I saw her work I knew I wanted to try this for myself. By specially preparing a copper plate surface she created fun and unique colored pencil art and jewelry. I was instantly hooked! So I contacted her to ask about her process and she graciously shared it with me.

The timing for this couldn't have been better because I was also getting ready for our annual Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) Northwest district art retreat and I wanted something new to work on while there. This turned out to be the perfect project for the week! What’s not to love about relaxing in a scenic area, spending time with your fellow CP artists, and eating well, all while working on a new project you're excited about?

I’ll admit that I was a little intimidated to try this process at first. But, using Linda’s instructions (and encouragement) I added a layer of Gesso to the surface, I prepared my copper piece and began to experiment. For someone like me, who has a heavy hand with her colored pencils, I quickly figured out that I had to ease up a little so the Gesso did not scrape off. But, I tried a variety of pencils from the hard Verithins to softer Prismacolor, Polychromos, and Inktense (both wet and dry) and they all worked well. The copper was light enough so I could cut it with sturdy scissors and even did some embossing to add even more dramatic effects to my projects. As a matter of fact, that gave the work a bit of a 3D effect.

As for the copper itself I found that the combination of the colored pencil against the rich color of the metal made for some stunning effects and unique possibilities. Soon I was deeply into the process and lost track of time!

Playing with process and trying new products is almost as much fun as actually finishing a piece of art for me. So I’m now experimenting with clear Gesso and a couple of other surface prep solutions to see how I like them. But I’m also interested in the possibility of submitting work to the Annual CPSA International exhibition using copper and that means I can’t use anything like Gesso on the surface of the metal. The colored pencil must be laid directly on the copper so I’m also playing with a Dremel tool to lightly rough up the surface of the copper to give it some tooth. Hopefully this will allow the pencils to grab onto the surface easily. I’m going to make some sample strips to see what processes and products I find work best for me. I will post those results on my Facebook art page.

There are so many fun possibilities with colored pencil on copper and I’m more excited than ever. The deep, rich color of the metal appeals to me and challenges me to explore color in a way I haven’t before. I’m going to give some jewelry pieces a try once I explore process a little more and I’ll be attaching some copper pieces to my Ampersand boxes for sure! I’ve even been asked locally to do a workshop on this process and I’m really excited about that - so stay tuned! You’ll be seeing more from me. And who knows what surface will catch my interest next!

About Jan:


Jan Fagan is a wife, mother, daughter, artist, Army dependent, traveler, therapeutic hypnotist, avid reader, retiree, and music and theater lover. Each of those things has influenced and is integrated in her artwork. Her artistic passion is creating art that invites the viewer to smile and invent their own stories.

Jan's work Copper Moon is part of the 18th Annual COLOR Magazine Member Show. Check out the show here and subscribe to COLOR Magazine to enter next year's show for free!

See more from Jan at

From Chaos to Calm...

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 1 Comment

I started my website in 1999. At the time, I worked alone at an old desk I’d stuck into a corner of my dining room. In the other corner was my drawing table. We ate at a table in the kitchen and never used the table in the dining room anyway, so why not? I have a small, older home with a simple floor plan, so my dining room office was really just at the end of my living room.

That worked fine for a couple of years but then I needed to hire some help; I couldn’t keep up with commissions, travel-teaching, writing the magazine, filling orders and answering emails by myself anymore. And I also wanted to start teaching locally from my home. About that time, I realized we actually only used the living room once a year when I put up our Christmas tree; the rest of the time we congregated in the family room off the kitchen. The living room was a waste of space! So I sold or gave away what little living room furniture I had and dedicated the space to my art and business, moving in three folding tables. A part-time assistant worked at a small computer station at one of the tables. I bought a filing cabinet and other small cabinets, started Saturday morning classes and was oh-so pleased!

But the business kept growing. The more project kits and products I developed, the more space we needed for inventory. Within a few years, none of this was really working anymore, and I’d grown tired of teaching every Saturday morning. (Mostly, I think I got tired of trying to keep my two young children quiet and behaved for 2.5 hours during class!) I also was ready to do some badly needed home renovation, so once again, I sold or stored items, and we started from scratch in the office.

It was crowded but workable…at least for a while. But, darn it, the business kept growing! With more and more books, products, shipping supplies and electronics to store, by 2016, we were literally spilling out all over the place. My linen closets were filling with inventory, a bedroom closet held more and still the floors were too often covered with even more stuff. It was inefficient and ugly and depressing and was dark and gloomy on cloudy days. Yuck.  My depression-era parents had done such a good job of raising us to “make do,” though, that it was tough for me to make a change.  But you can see how badly I needed to make a decision:

Finally, the constant chaos got to be too much. I reached a breaking point and started doing some research in the fall of 2016. Since I’d recently gotten onto a minimalizing kick, I knew I wanted a custom design that was clean, sleek and that would perfectly fit our products. I wanted a calm work space! We were so tired of trying to fit books and other stuff into storage solutions that weren’t really solutions at all! After some online research, I stumbled on Organized Spaces, a smaller local business in the Seattle area that custom designs closets, home offices and garage storage. Bryce, our fun and friendly designer, came out to the house, saw our crowded mess and product needs and got a feel for my design sense in January of this year.

After a bit of back and forth over the next few weeks, we settled on a design. Now the really tough part began – emptying out that horribly over-stuffed office. Where to put everything? Once again, I sold some of the furniture, gave some away and then filled every room in the rest of the house with stuff, stuff and more stuff. The last bit of preparation was some thorough cleaning and then the space was ready for magic!


Installation of the new desks and storage units took just three nice men and three short days and all went perfectly without a hitch. It was so amazing to see everything go up, piece by piece. The last step was one that our designer Bryce suggested -  to hire an electrician to put in ceiling lights and the new lighting made a huge difference, too. To say that we are thrilled with our new work area is like saying the Arctic can get a bit cool – a huge understatement. I can hardly believe how beautiful it us and how easy it is to keep neat and tidy. It’s efficient, sleek, clean, minimal and absolutely perfect! I couldn’t be happier with Organized Spaces or my decision to bite the bullet and reach for something beautiful.

June 2017 Showcase - Colored Pencil Artwork

Posted on May 31, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 0 Comments

The three artists featured in the June 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine  Showcase submitted stories about their artwork for our blog. Read below about their inspiration for each of these interesting subjects.

Unity In Diversity
by Ranjini Venkatachari
11" x 20"
Own photo reference
Water soluble pencils and Colored pencils on pastel board

I was born in a country characterized by fascinating social, religious and cultural variations. I wanted to echo my feelings from childhood of how the society always stays interconnected with all these diversities. We all have our differences, which is what makes us unique. This piece is a celebration of such differences coming together, creating a unity in diversity.

About Ranjini

Ranjini was born in Chennai, India and currently lives in San Ramon, California. Her works have been juried into several National, International shows and publications across the US & UK. Ranjini is a 5-year merit signature member and the board member of Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA).

See more at


by Jelly Massee
8" x 10"
Photo reference from pixabay
Prismacolor on Bristol smooth paper

I live in Quebec and this time of year we are edging into Spring. One of the first signs of Spring in this area is the sighting of a robin. Although this is an English Robin and not native to Canada, I just loved this little fellow and knew I had to draw him. I drew him on March 24th and looked outside to see the snow falling, yet again. This fellow inspired dreams of Spring!

About Jelly

Jelly is a self-taught artist primarily using acrylics as her medium. About a year ago she needed another challenge and start dabbling in color pencils. She feels lucky that she is able to spend her retirement learning new mediums and taking on new challenges.

See more from Jelly at


Eve's Elixir
by Peter Nelson
11" x 15"
Own Reference Photo
Derwent Inktense and Coloursoft; FaberCastell Polychromos; Prismacolor; liner pens, Fabriano 5.

I came across these bottles whilst visiting the Somerset Cider Brandy Company and was intrigued to know how the apples had got into the bottles; I later found out that the bottle are fixed to the tree, with the apple grown inside. What attracted me to this composition was its simplicity and shape, with the bottles standing in a neat row on a simple concrete wall. As I had never created such depths of background against glass work, the challenge was in capturing the simplicity with the contrasting sheen from the bottle, the depth of colors between the bright corks, dusty bottles and clear sparkling brandy standing out against the dark background, and foreground textured surface.

About Peter

Peter initially a watercolor artist, until finding colored pencils in 2012, has always loved artistic realism. His passion, although mainly weathered textures, varies in compositions, due to technical challenges that the variety of subjects gives him. He loves watching personality and story develop as he progresses through his work.

See more from Peter at


These artworks were published in the June 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine.

Download the 40 page digital version of the magazine for just $3.89, or subscribe and save 15%. Each issue is packed with step by step projects, critiques, colored pencil tips, artist profiles and much more.

Posted in colored pencil art, colored pencil artists, showcase

The Pencil Box - Featured Artists - June 2017

Posted on May 31, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 0 Comments

June 2017 Featured Artists. Corresponding with the art gallery that is featured each month in Ann Kullberg's COLOR MagazineThe Pencil Box blog series will give artists a bit more space to share insight and inspiration about their colored pencil art. Make sure to check out links at the bottom of this post for our Facebook group partners - join in the fun and your artwork could be featured, too!

Cat Fight by Jackie Little Miller
11" x 16"
Colored pencil on canvas

I love the interaction between these two sisters, playful yet serious. The look in her
eyes just stops you in your tracks. As a portrait artist I love capturing emotion,
especially in the eyes, of who ever or what ever I am painting.

About Jackie

I first stumbled onto color pencils as a medium about a year and a half ago, and it was love at first sight. Though I work in many mediums, color pencil is by far my favorite!

See more at:


Julianna by Alison Philpott
8" x 10"
Prismacolor on Strathmore Bristol Smooth

The composition and light are beautiful in the original reference photo. So much so
that I read the entire story and was so compelled to draw her that I tracked down the
photographer who lives in Uganda and asked for permission to draw her photo.

Julianna's story is a compelling one of hardship, strength and joy. She was married at
13 to a 40 year old, had 5 children and was widowed at 25. Circumstances were very
hard as strangers claiming to be family tried to evict her and take her farm. For decades she struggled to keep her livelihood and home intact. Eventually, International Justice Mission was involved and proved that her husband had a will leaving the entire farm to her alone.

At age 75 She remains there today, in peace with her family. Her story is part of great changes happening for the protection of widows in Uganda.

About Alison

I defied every instructor I had all through school when presented with giant sheets of
newsprint and a chunk of charcoal. "Draw with your whole arm" they'd say "Use the
whole page." Ha, not likely, I wanted to focus in on the detail. And still do!

See more at:

Fifty Shades of Grey by Cathy Settle
10" x 8"
Colored pencil on paper

I was inspired to draw this piece as Mothering Sunday was approaching and I felt it
depicted a mother's love for her children. It was especially apt for me as there are five
cygnets and I come from a family of five siblings. I have secretly decided which one is
each of my brothers and sisters, naturally I'm the cute one! I was in two minds as to whether I should go ahead with the drawing as the reference photo was very dark and grey. The title of the work seemed an obvious choice after using so many different shades of grey!

About Cathy

I enjoyed art at school but I've been too busy with my career and family and hadn't
picked up a pencil for 33 years. To help me to cope with the anxiety of being bullied, I found solace in drawing pets initially and then other animals.

See more at:


Wandering Orvieto by Caryn Coville
12" x 18"
Prismacolor & Luminance pencils on Stonehenge paper
(using the Icarus Painting Board)

My drawing brings back fond memories for me of a day I spent in Orvieto with friends.
My husband couldn’t join us, but was added to my drawing as the wanderer. I took my reference photo just before leaving Orvieto. I hope that through the details in my work the viewer also feels like they're wandering down the streets of this charming Italian town.

About Caryn

Shortly after graduating with a B.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology, Caryn
began working in colored pencils. Her realistic paintings are inspired by the world
around her. Caryn’s award-winning work has been featured in numerous art
publications and exhibitions and can be found in private and corporate collections.

See more at:



These artworks were published in the June 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine.


Posted in colored pencil artists, The Pencil Box

Art in Prison

Posted on May 26, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 3 Comments

by Mike Menius

Several years ago, I received a hand written letter from a man who was incarcerated. He had somehow learned that I was serving as chapter president of the Colored Pencil Society of America (San Francisco chapter, which is now the San Jose chapter, DC 210).

“Bill” (not his real name) was incarcerated in a California correctional facility. While there, he took an art class and discovered colored pencils, although art supplies were quite scarce. Bill wanted to know more about colored pencil, because he had become fascinated with the medium.

Bill’s address on the envelope was practically written in code. It was an elaborate PO Box and street location that gave no indication of being a correctional facility. The address certainly was NOT for Bill himself, but only to the facility, where any mail would be carefully reviewed, before any inmate would be permitted to receive mail.

I decided to assemble an art supplies package for Bill. I chose several books by prominent colored pencil artists, including one book by Gary Greene which I had found to be quite helpful. There were also drawing pads, different types of art paper, a couple brands of colored pencils, erasers, sharpeners, etc.

It was a sizable package, loaded with art goodies. It occurred to me that there might be some doubt that this package was legitimate, so on the top of everything was a very official sounding letter, with letterhead and all, saying, “Dear sir: Thank you for your interest in the Colored Pencil Society of America. There is a national organization, and here is the website... There are local chapters all over the country. Enclosed are some materials to assist in becoming more proficient with colored pencils. Sincerely yours…”

Some of my fellow chapters members told me that my efforts had been a waste of time, because prison officials never permit inmates to receive packages – a well intentioned effort, but the materials would ultimately be thrown away.

That was the last I heard, for about three months. One day, another hand written letter arrived, from Bill. He told me, in great detail what had happened. First, he thanked me profusely for the package. He was deeply touched, as well as being thrilled about the art supplies. This is how Bill came to receive the package. One day, Bill was notified to come to the warden’s office. He had no idea why. The warden had the art supply package on his desk, with the letter on top. He told Bill what had happened and that it violated all policies to allow him to receive such a shipment, but the warden was attempting to figure out a way to be flexible, due to the unusual nature of this package.

Bill’s eyes were dazzled by all the goodies there, and he wanted to put them to use.

First, the warden insisted that all books would have to be removed from their binders, to be inspected for weapons, drugs, or other contraband. Bill’s first (internal) reaction was fury, but he held his temper and began to negotiate. The last thing he wanted was for the art books to be turned into a bunch of loose pages. Finally, they hit upon a solution: instead of giving the books to Bill, they would be given to the library, where anyone (including Bill) could go to use them.

There followed a session of item-by-item negotiation, and Bill received a good portion of what was in the package. To his surprise, he was permitted to keep the hand held pencil sharpener, which actually contained a blade, but somehow it went unnoticed. For Bill, this was an emotional and uplifting experience, a gesture of encouragement and hope.

Some time later, I received a final letter from Bill. It enclosed a drawing he had created. It was a rather finished landscape of hills, fields, and farms, probably based on a photo that appealed to him. He said his incarceration would soon be finished. His mother, who was nearby, was helping him make the transition, involving housing, work, and other support services. He didn’t ask me for anything and again thanked me for the package. I wrote back, commending Bill on his drawing, wishing him well with his art work and his future endeavors.

That is the end of the story. There are several things I never knew: 1) his age, 2) his ethnic back ground or 3) the nature of his offense that ended up in incarceration. The entire exchange was person-to-person about art.

I choose to believe that Bill moved forward in his life, with art as an important part. At that difficult time in his life, he saw that he matters to other people.


Mike Menius lives in California wine country.  He works in colored pencil and oils.  He depicts architectural themes, landscapes, and interiors.  A signature member of the Colored Pencil Society of America, he has served as past president of the San Jose chapter, formerly the San Francisco chapter, of CPSA.

See more from Mike at



Posted in colored pencil artists

The Pencil Box - Featured Artists - May 2017

Posted on April 30, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 0 Comments

Corresponding with the art gallery that is featured each month in Ann Kullberg's COLOR MagazineThe Pencil Box blog series will give artists a bit more space to share insight and inspiration about their colored pencil art. Make sure to check out links at the bottom of this post for our Facebook group partners - join in the fun and your artwork could be featured, too!

Honi Soit by Lis Zadravec
17.5" x 13"
Prismacolors on Canford Imperial Card

My daughter and favorite muse, wearing her make-up to look as if she had been crying. It's all in the drama, Honi soit qui mal y pense. Shame on him who thinks evil of it. Shame on him! I loved that for how dark everything is, I found so many colors. The green-greys in the background, the blues and purples in her headpiece. Some pieces are just as much a challenge as a pleasure to draw.

About Lis

Portraits in colored pencil have always been my passion. But most of the work you will see of mine is from the last 3 years as other colored pencil artists online have given me courage to pursue my personal goal of making my work equal in quality to oil paintings.

See more at:


Barbara's Bouquet by Toni Hertzler
11" x 14"
Strathmore 500 series Bristol plate.

This is a tribute piece that I did for my mother who passed from cancer at the early age of 46. Mom always supported my work but never got to see how far I would progress. She loved flowers, so when I saw this photo on Unsplash it spoke to me of her and I knew I had to try to draw it.

About Toni

I stopped all artwork to raise my family and only got back to it about 7 years ago. Since then I have worked in oils, graphite and now colored pencils. My experience with colored pencils was very limited before completing this piece but I know I will be doing more.

See more at: 

Preening by Jodi Harsch
11" x 17"
on Bristol cover paper with Prismacolor pencils

Along with drawing every chance I get, I teach senior citizens how to draw. One student in particular is in her 80s and is an awesome photographer. She drives her car to local ponds and lakes, takes her walker out of the car and sits and waits for hours on end for the perfect shot. She showed me this picture one day, and when I asked her if I could draw it she was so excited that someone thought it was worthy she cried! Most of my art is of nature. I loved this heron from the beginning, the way the plumage is still wet and drapes across his back, the elegant way his neck curves is beautiful. The huge smile on the face of one of my senior citizens has made this particular drawing one of my absolute favorites!

About Jodi

Originally from Colorado, life-long artist Jodi Harsch has taught drawing to people all ages for over thirty years. She has exhibited her art in Kansas City and surrounding areas in art competitions and gallery shows. Jodi is a member of the Sedalia Visual Arts Assoc. and Mid-Missouri Artists.

See more at:


Silas by Vicki Swords
16" x 20"
Polychromos on Fabriano hot press 140lb.

This is a drawing I my grandson Silas as he was going through a door in Santa Fe, NM. I have done another drawing of his older brother, Henry, at a different door so I guess doors have a sense of wonder for me.

About Vicki

Smith County artist working personally and professionally in various mediums, including acrylic and oil paints, water color, pencil, charcoal, and graphite.

See more at:



These artworks were published in the May 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine.


Posted in colored pencil art, colored pencil artists, The Pencil Box

May 2017 Showcase - Colored Pencil Artwork

Posted on April 30, 2017 by Ann Kullberg | 0 Comments

This month, three artists who were featured in the May 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine Showcase submitted stories about their artwork for our blog. Read below about their inspiration for each of these interesting subjects.

Lantern Painter
by Rudy Liskop
14" x 23"
Own photo reference
Paper: Crescent #110 Illustration board
Pencils: Prismacolors, Verithins, Aquarelles, W&N Watercolors, and Airbrush.

While exploring Samphanthawong Bangkok's old Chinatown, I had been walking through a dimly lit passage past small shops when I came upon the lantern painter who was lit by a single diffuse overhead light source and was unaware of my presence. I focused my camera and captured the ideal moment. The click of the shutter broke his concentration and he got up and disappeared into the back of the shop.

About Rudy

Rudy is a 69 year old self taught artist and craftsman who divides his time between a large workshop and the studio in a self built home on acreage in Whonnock, B.C. When not travelling with his camera he shoots the local wildlife with a 600mm lens. 


Treasured Times
by Charlotte Hastings
20" x 21"
Own photo reference
Prismacolor on Stonehenge paper

Treasured Times is just that! I spend every Tuesday with my Mom. At 95 she loves and still can do puzzles of all kinds - word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles. her favorite word puzzle is crypto-quote, she keeps trying to teach me to do them, but that has not happened as yet. We trade jigsaw puzzles with many people. The ladies with Home Instead, the caretakers who help us in order for her to stay in her home, bring puzzles all the time. The reference photo for this piece is just one of the many snapshots I take on our Tuesdays together.

About Charlotte

I'm a semi-retired artist living in Lawrence Kansas. I have experimented with and mastered many mediums such as oils, acrylics, and sculpture. About 15 years ago I discovered color pencils and have never looked back. My inspiration comes from snapshots of my family.

See more from Charlotte at


Forest Queen - Eurasian Lynx
by Esther van Hulsen
16.5" x 11.7"
Colored pencil and Copic markers on Fabriano paper

Lynxes are so graceful. In Northern and Western Europe these are the biggest cats today. I wanted to show the elegance of this female in a sort of regal, quiet portrait.

About Esther

Esther van Hulsen has been working as a professional wildlife and paleo artists since she finished art school in 2004. She finds all animals interesting, also extinct ones, and has been drawing since being a toddler. Esther has illustrated several prize winning books, which have been published in many countries.

See more from Esther at


These artworks were published in the May 2017 issue of COLOR Magazine.

Download the 40 page digital version of the magazine for just $3.89, or subscribe and save 15%. Each issue is packed with step by step projects, critiques, colored pencil tips, artist profiles and much more.

Posted in colored pencil art, colored pencil artists, showcase

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