Let's Continue The Journey With Our Childhood Friend

Let's Continue The Journey With Our Childhood Friend

by Hleing Aye

In fact, it is safe to say that colored pencil were our childhood friend because colored pencil have been familiar to us since childhood. When we were kids, we used to paint on a piece of paper or on a wall with colored pencils, didn’t we? It was these colored pencils that introduced us to color before we even knew what art was. As we grow up, we forget about our childhood friends and start painting with new friends such as watercolors, acrylic and oil paints. I'm one of them, but my new friends didn't work out for me. So, for a while, I was separated from drawing and painting.

“Flowers and Lace” 11”x16”, colored pencil on paper

I was reunited with my childhood friend because of the book that I read in 2000. The name of the book is Colored Pencil Solution Book by Janie Gildow and Barbara Benedetti Newton. That book brought my mind back to drawing and painting. After reading that book, I started experimenting with my childhood friend—colored pencil. Gradually, my childhood friend and I understand each other as we practiced the exercises in that book. Then I tried to start painting still life with colored pencil. I have learned that drawing with colored pencil is more satisfying than painting with any other medium. I loved realism and drawing in details, so I knew that colored pencil was the best fit for me.

“Colored pencil were our childhood friend because colored pencil have been familiar to us since childhood.”

At that time, I think I was the only person in our country who drew with colored pencil. My country did not have good internet access, so I had to rely on books to learn and practice. Artist grade colored pencil, paper and other tools are also a difficult to get but I tried to draw with as many colored pencils as I could.

Between 2000 and 2004 I did a lot of still life drawing with colored pencil but while I was drawing still life, I became more and more aware of my desire to draw portraits. So, I tried to find and read as many colored pencil instruction books as I could. In 2004, I found two books that cater to my needs, Colored Pencil Portrait Step by Step and Texture in Colored Pencil by Ann Kullberg.

“Daydream” 14”x17”, Colored Pencil on Strathmore Bristol 300 Series Vellum paper

My early portraits were mostly portraits of my daughter and celebrities. While drawing with colored pencil, I made friends with an artist. He is famous for his ink sketches, as well as photos of the ethnic groups living in our country that he created. He advised me to draw portraits of the ethnic groups living in our country instead of the portraits of celebrities. He also provided his photographs of ethnic groups for reference. It was the beginning of a turning point in my painting with colored pencil. Since then, I have been creating portraits with my childhood friend, Colored Pencil, to this day.

“I loved realism and drawing in details, so I knew that colored pencil was the best fit for me.”

From 2000 to 2006, I was still an amateur painter who painted with colored pencil. At that time, colored pencil was not a very popular medium in our country. But I never gave up, I continued to practice drawing and studying. Around 2003, I Started posting some of my colored pencil drawings on Facebook. From there, I met some people who were interested in colored pencil and most of them are young generations. I also got to know other artists through Facebook. Through this, I was able to participate in some art exhibitions.

“Hope“, 9”x12”, colored pencil on Acrylic Gesso

Most of my portraits capture not only the likeness but also the emotional senses. In addition, instead of drawing very dark tones, I tried to give a gentle mood with soft colors. As a result, some of my portraits are criticized for not being bright colors. So, I try to find out how to improve my colored pencil artwork through online and books again. I try to test on the various surfaces and pencil brand. In 2018, I read Alyona Nickelsen's book Colored Pencil Painting Portraits. After reading the book, I experimented with the techniques in her book. There I learned a lot about what I needed. My recent work “Hope” was created on Acrylic Gesso. First, I painted Acrylic Gesso on to Strathmore Bristol 300 Series Vellum paper. After completely dry, I transfer my line drawing and then I start painting with colored pencil.

This is my experience of journey with our Childhood Friend and now I am recognized as a Colored Pencil Artist in my country. So, I would like to tell that you, don’t forget your childhood friend and you should go together with your childhood friend to reach your artistic goal.


Hleing Aye lives in Myanmar (Formerly Burma). He is an engineer but his dream is to be come an artist one day. He found out the way of his dream to be come true with Colored Pencil. He is self-taught and learned through Colored pencil Instruction Books, Website and Colored Pencil community Facebook pages are the main sources of his learning. He is shares his colored pencil experience to young generation together with Derwent Myanmar team.

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