How My Passion For Color Pencil Became An Obsession

How My Passion For Color Pencil Became An Obsession

by Kitty Dodd

Colored Pencil. A thin round of color encased in a wooden sheath. Simplicity. An object that I never thought would be so addictive, so soul satisfying, and would completely change my art. “Artsy” since birth, I am told, I was fortunate to attend many art classes in Michigan while growing up. We lived 2 blocks from the Detroit Zoo and I spent a lot of time there studying and drawing the animals. Many years later I had the opportunity to teach a class at the National Zoo.

“My journey is just beginning. I am getting older but when I have that little stick I am a child again.”

The Winner

Years later I became a Fashion Illustrator in D.C. and pen and ink became my medium. Colored Ink morphed into caricatures and cards sometimes using CP for color. Not the good ones, I didn’t know they existed. But I Loved coloring! I eventually bought a CP set. Pablos. And I didn’t touch them for a year because they had been so expensive, and I was scared of them. The day came I needed something To help a pen drawing. I took out the Pablos. Oh, my! Like coloring on a hot sidewalk with lipstick. I was hooked! There was no turning back. I heard about a CP group nearby. CPSA DC109. And with that wonderful group of artists I learned to manipulate that little color stick. On all sorts of surfaces in all sorts of ways.

One day in my studio I found a piece of suede matboard. Would this work with CP? Oh, my! It sure did! I taught myself how to lightly layer keeping the nap, making animal bodies soft and then creating the hard surfaces. I figured it out and now I was obsessed! I found my world. My Happy place.

The Hairdresser

I have also grown to love Dura Lar film and still like HPWC. I have more pencils than I can count and realize how lucky I am to have CP to keep me sane, continue to experiment be able to donate to animal shelters. That little stick makes me happy, feel safe and content.

And now, with color pencil becoming so much more acceptable, instruction books popping up, classes, magazines, and gurus like Ann Kullberg, artists are really pushing the limit. New surfaces to color on are being subjects are found every day and that little color stick is being made better and better by high quality companies.

“I figured it out and now I was obsessed! I found my world. My Happy place.”

My way of working with suede is probably the slowest ways ever done. Teaching it is sometimes frustrating because patience is the key word. Most animals I start with a pink layer then a blue layer—making kind of a skin. My stroke is very light and t do itsey bitsey teenie tiny circles with my pencils having a Very sharp point at all times. I found that this way actually keeps the nap of the suede up. Even if during the process I lightly spray workable fix, this technique will often bring the nap up again. For hard surfaces, like horns or collars, I do a back and forth stroke which flattens the nap. And I found out that every sheet of suede matboard can have a different nap....I have been using different pencils for different naps. I love Derwent Colorsoft, and Lightfast for most soft naps. Derwent Procolor works really well with short nap... and Luminance is a go to for final layers. You just have to experiment with what you can to get the results that you want.


I will continue to play with all that is available; learning, growing, getting frustrated, throwing art away...but always, always grateful that I am able to do what I love, with what I love. This is what I was meant to do. My journey is just beginning. I am getting older but when I have that little stick I am a child again.


What gives an artist the right to call themselves an artist? When or where do creative ideas actually start? What drives an artist to create something that no one else has? What drives that passion to the point of obsession? In 2010, Kitty’s home burned. All was lost including pets. Art, and the little colored stick helped her get back into the world and continue with her love of art.

See more at:

Comments (9)

I am so proud of your wonderful artwork and even prouder to know you as my friend and colored pencil addict. Hang in there! Congratulations!

Mary Jo - Jan 13, 2021

Kitty, so proud of you and I love how you describe that feeling. And your photo – which is a stellar profile shot and belongs EVERYWHERE. Good on you!

Claudia Wisdom-Good - Jan 13, 2021

I love and have purchased several of kitty’s beautiful work. So proud that she is getting out there for others to enjoy her beautiful work.

Tish Smyth - Jan 13, 2021

Kitty, Pure love of animals & color, kindhearted & determined.. this is a beautiful article as are you & your art. I am also honored to own your work. Your passion spreads & you know you’ve sparked my interest in CP. Inspiration flows every time I gaze at the hounds that you created (now in my home).. and your words of encouragement touch deep. That little stick in your control.. is a full blast of eye candy.

Cherine Marie - Jan 13, 2021

I will try the suede paper! Your article is so inspiring. It’s fun to learn the techniques behind your beautiful work, Kitty.
The little stick sure has come a long way!

Katherine - Jan 13, 2021

Kitty, you share your talent and heart with so many of us. I treasure our friendship and am in constant awe of the beautiful paintings you do with your colored pencils. I will never give up trying to master the little colored sticks. Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement. You are an artistic treasure.

Harvie Ann Cox - Jan 13, 2021

Kitty, proud to know the artist in you! I miss seeing the week-to-week advances as your work gets closer to being completed. One day, the art group will resume their weekly meetings!

Larry Patterson - Jan 13, 2021

I have enjoyed getting to know you and have been amazed by your patience. Your artwork is splendid, detailed and so real when completed. Keep going in your fantastic way!

Anne Dean - Jan 13, 2021

Love love love your work!

Grayson - Jan 13, 2021

Leave your comment