Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Legal' coloured pencils for CPSA International Exhibition

The Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) announced a list of coloured pencils defined as legal products for the purposes of entering CPSA exhibitions last week. 
(See Facebook entry dated 14th December on the CPSA Official Facebook Page)

Legal AND Lightfast and Suitable for Artists?

"Legal" and "lightfast" and "suitable for artists" are three different sets of credentials.  This list only relates to the first category.
This standard specification establishes quality requirements for composition, performance, and labeling of artists' colored pencils. This specification also covers vehicles and additives. Labeling requirements shall include company or brand name, identification number, country of origin, colour index names, lightfastness, pencil type, name and address of manufacturer, constitution number, toxicity, and statement of conformance. Additives for colored pencils shall include thickeners, preservatives, surfactants, wax, oil, and humectants. The pencil shall be capable of applying an even coating without scratch marks and without excessive breaking. Lightfastness, color difference test, exposure to natural daylight through window glass, and exposure to Xenon-arc radiation shall be done in accordance with the ASTM standard testing method using white, uncoated, neutral pH, buffered paper or board, without optical brighteners.ASTM D6901 - 06 Standard Specification for Artists' Colored Pencils
    • see section on Lightfastness in Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists
    • In creating the list CPSA also defined which pencils it has tested for lightfastness - but this is NOT the same as statements by CPSA as to which pencils they regard as lightfast.  I've seen the test results and some brands do poorly with respect to certain colours and only a few do well in relation to certain colours.  (If you're concerned about lightfastness, it's well worth joining CPSA just to get the CPSA Lightfastness Handbook!)
  • "Suitable for artists" is usually used as a proxy for a certain quality of pencil intended for artists and fine art (eg pigment rich, lightfast) - rather than students or children.  Clearly some of the pencils in the list are designed for students or children and would normally not be considered to be suitable for artists / fine art per se.  However it should be noted that even eminent artists when working in other media do not always choose to use media which will remain robust and maintain colour over time!
I use coloured pencils for sketching
from a number of different brands

List of colored pencil products eligible for use in the CPSA International Exhibition

Below are the lists of pencils.  I've organised the four groups of pencils published on the CPSA website (wax and oil based; watersoluble;  woodless and woodless/watersoluble) into groups under the name of the manufacturer and provided the link to the manufacturers website in their name

Note that CPSA has
  • NOT accredited all pencils as suitable for artists and 
  • NOT accredited all pencils as lightfast.  Those which have been tested for lightfastness are marked with a T.  However tested for lightfastness is NOT the same as being accredited as lightfast.
The coloured pencils listed below are wax and oil based unless otherwise indicated

Blick Art Materials
  • Blick Studio Artists' T
  • Bruynzeel Design Fullcolor (disc.) T
  • Bruynzeel Design Aquarell (disc.) watersoluble
  • Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901
  • Caran d’Ache Pablo
  • Conte Couleur d'Art (disc.)
  • Caran d’Ache Supracolor Aquarelle watersoluble
  • Caran D'Ache Museum Watercolor Leads woodless/watersoluble
Crayola - in general not associated with artists pencils, 
  • Crayola Colored Pencils
  • Crayola Erasable
  • Crayola Extreme Colors
  • Crayola Metallic
  • Crayola Multicultural
  • Crayola Short
  • Crayola Watercolor watersoluble
  • Crayola Color Sticks woodless
  • Crayola Twistables woodless
  • Cretacolor Karmina T
  • Cretacolor Marino   watersoluble
  • Cretacolor AquaMonolith Woodless Watercolorwoodless/watersoluble
  • Derwent Artist Series (sets only in US) T
  • Derwent Coloursoft T
  • Derwent Drawing 
  • Derwent Lakeland (all types)
  • Derwent Signature (disc.) T
  • Derwent Studio
  • Derwent Graphitint (used as graphite)   watersoluble
  • Derwent Inktense   watersoluble
  • Derwent Lakeland water-soluble watersoluble
  • Derwent Metallic   watersoluble
  • Derwent Signature Watercolor (disc.)  watersoluble
  • Derwent Watercolour   watersoluble
  • Derwent Aquatoneswoodless/watersoluble
  • Derwent Inktense Blockswoodless/watersoluble

  • Dixon Ticonderoga Core Lock (disc.)
Eberhard Faber - American arm bought-up by Sanford (Newell/ Rubbermaid). On January 1, 2010, Faber-Castell AG acquired the rights to the brand name Eberhard Faber that was previously owned by the Staedtler group of companies
  • Eberhard Faber Design Spectracolor (disc.)
  • Eberhard Faber Design (disc.) watersoluble
  • Faber-Castell Art Grip
  • Faber-Castell EcoPencils (Max and Jumbo Triangular)
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos T
  • Faber-Castell Red Line Metallic
  • Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle watersoluble
  • Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer  watersoluble
  • Faber-Castell Red Line Watercolor watersoluble

  • Fantasia Premium Artist T
  • Fantasia Premium Watercolor  watersoluble
  • Felissimo
  • General Pencil Color-Tex
  • General Pencil MultiChrome
  • General Pencil Scribe All
  • General Kimberley Watercolor  watersoluble
  • General Pencil Scribe All watersoluble
  • Koh-I-noor Astra Neon
  • Koh-I-noor MagicFX
  • Koh-I-Noor Polycolor
  • Koh-I-Noor Triocolor
  • Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarell watersoluble
  • Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless woodless
  • Liqui-mark
  • Liqui-mark Metallic
  • Lyra Color Giants (regular, neon, metallic, skin-tones)
  • Lyra ColorStripe
  • Lyra Ferby, Super Ferby and Ferby 4-color
  • Lyra Groove and Groove Slim
  • Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor T
  • Lyra Waldorf Selection
  • Lyra Osiris water-soluble watersoluble
  • Lyra Rembrandt Aquarell  watersoluble
  • Lyra Pure Color Woodless (disc.) woodless
  • Pantone Universe Colored Pencils
  • Pentel Arts
Marshall Art Supplies
  • Marshall Retouch
Prang (Part of Dixon Ticonderoga)
  • Prang (regular and triangular)
Prismacolor (Newell Rubbermaid Office Products)
  • Prismacolor Col-Erase (formerly Venus & Eberhard Faber)
  • Prismacolor Premier T
  • Prismacolor Premier Lightfast (disc.) T
  • Prismacolor Scholar Art Pencils
  • Prismacolor Verithins  T
  • Prismacolor Watercolor  watersoluble
  • Prismacolor ArtStix woodless
  • Raffine
  • Raffine Watercolor watersoluble
  • Reeves
  • Reeves Watercolor watersoluble
  • Royal Talens Van Gogh (disc.)  T
  • Royal Talens Van Gogh Aquarelle (disc.)  watersoluble
Sargent Art
  • Sargent Watercolor watersoluble
Soho Urban Artist - this brand is exclusive to Jerry's Artarama.
  • Soho Urban Artist
  • Stabilo Color
  • Stabilo Softcolor (disc.)   T
  • Stabilo GREENcolor
  • Stabilo Original
  • Stabilo Trio and Trio Thick
  • Stabilo Aquacolor watersoluble
  • Staedtler Ergosoft  and Ergosoft Jumbo
  • Staedler Noris Club (Classic, Jumbo, Super Jumbo)
  • Tombow Irojiten
  • Utrecht Premium
  • Walnut Hollow Oil (disc.)
  • Staedtler Ergosoft Aquarelle  watersoluble
  • Staedtler Karat Aquarelle  watersoluble

In addition, Graphite and Water-soluble graphite pencils can be used under and between layers of coloured pencils.
Since new products are constantly being introduced, please understand this may not be a complete list. If you have an eligibility question about a product that is not listed here, please contact the Exhibition director at

Matters arising

I know something of the reasons why CPSA thought that the creation of this listing would be a good idea - however I'm not sure of the value of where it's ended up.

How about you?  Do you think it's a good idea? Here are some questions for you to ponder on:
  • Is defining products which can be used for artwork entries to an International Exhibition by a national art society a good idea?
  • Is there value in defining pencils clearly designed for children as 'legal' for artwork to be entered in the International Exhibition of an art society which aims to raise the profile for coloured pencil as media for fine art?
  • Do you think "legal" might add value to a brand?
  • Is "legal" likely to be confused with "lightfast" and "suitable for artists"?
  • How can CPSA test whether or not "legal" pencils have been used?
  • Do any of the exclusions surprise you?

I've got my own views - but I'd be interested to hear yours.

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  1. Katherine, As I stated in response to your comment on our FB page. "..While we are giving our best information as to what products constitute the spirit of colored pencil art, we use the honor system. We trust that the artist is following our guidelines unless proven otherwise. We are not the colored pencil police, rather an organization that celebrates the best of colored pencil art."

    Take this information in the spirit as it was given, to help artists make decisions for themselves as to the products they may be able to use. We are a volunteer board of 13 people who do the very best we can at any given time to promote the media which we love.

    1. Many thanks Cindy. My question was, in a way, rhetorical as the CPSA, like any other art society, has to place trust in the fact artist will comply with an honour system if they have no way of testing.

      I guess on reflection that i'm puzzled - , given the fact it's an honour system and there's no way of testing - and am curious as to why CPSA didn't just stick with the system used by other art societies of saying what they will and will not accept (ie coloured pencils = OK; pastel pencils = not OK) - and leave it at that.

      However I am grateful to you for identifying all the pencils deemed to be coloured pencils. I think I may well take the opportunity to identify on my coloured pencils website:
      * EITHER what I consider to be student/school grade pencils - and hence unsuitable for fine art.
      * OR those brands pencils which are suitable for fine art if the lightfast colours are used.
      I am of course in the happy position of being able to have an independent opinion and am not required to be accountable to an Executive or membership! :)

  2. Initial reaction is favourable. I think we all knew this was going to have to be the way to go when we struggled to define coloured pencils, but knew what they were and what we wanted to see. I think your questions about the student standard pencils will not cause problems as many artists will not use the. But to exclude them would be wrong as they are without out coloured pencils. They may encourage more artists to participate as they are cheaper and more available, and pencils like the Furby's may produce some interesting work. Please note that the pencils with the triangle may NOT be lightfast - they just are the ones that the CPSA. Has tested for light fastness. One omission is Caran d'Ache Neocolour. I can't see anything else that I would wish to include - but my memory is not great. I also liked the CPSA response to your question. OK they cannot police it - but they are not a police force. What the list does do is to make everything very clear and put the onus on the artist.

    1. But why produce a list at all?

      My own personal view is that there are a lot of artists who have spent a very long time trying to promote coloured pencils as a serious medium for fine art and who have been working hard to get people to think about coloured pencils outside the "Crayola / what I used at school" mindset. I think they may well be pretty disappointed at some of the inclusions and may well wonder about whether the list takes the CP as art media cause forwards or backwards.

      Personally speaking I'd have left things as they were - with some clear instructions for people to contact CPSA if they have queries.

      My own feeling is that if a list were needed I think I would have expected an art society to have clearly differentiated on the basis of brands which are suitable for fine art and art which is to be sold (ie this is an ART society not a society for people who like filling in colouring pages)

      Isn't the point of the International Exhibition to raise the game and the quality of the media recommended for fine art as opposed to acknowledging all coloured pencils irrespective of whether they are designed for 3 years olds (ie Crayola) or fine artists

      If this list stays, I think consideration needs to be given to some media which been lost in translation. I really don't understand what on earth is the difference between the woodless/water-based pencils identified (which are not pencils in the usual sense of the word) and Neocolour other than thickness (same as a Crayola product on the list) and a word used by a Swiss company which doesn't mean the same as the same word used in English-speaking countries. I think we all know that Pastels are not made of wax!!! Wouldn't a listing such as this have been an ideal opportunity to say that Neocolour are OK - despite the Swiss use of the word. If they changed the word (which they don't seem to use on the tins in any case!) on the tins to "sticks" would that mean they are suddenly "legal"?

    2. It all comes down to how you define a coloured pencil, which actually is very difficult to do in the way that the two Societies want, I.e. excluding pastels. It is a lot easier to say "OK, I can't define them, but these are what I am talking about". It is like it is impossible to define a folk song - but you can give examples, which people will probably still argue over. Personally I feel Neocolours are a significant omission that should be corrected, but otherwise I agree with the list.

      There is a big difference between saying something is LEGAL for exhibition purposes and something is SUITABLE for exhibition purposes. I think we can rely on artists to select from a list of pencils that would be allowed for exhibition only those pencils which will give long lasting results. Particularly if they are required maybe to state which products have been used in a picture and have any expectation of selling their work.

    3. But Bob - WHY create a list?

      Why not just say "Only oil or wax-based coloured pencils/sticks are eligible media for the International Exhibition. This does NOT include pastel pencils?" Is there a single pencil in this list which would not comply with that statement?

    4. No, but there may be items not on the list that you would still wish to exclude, like oil pastels, that may not be excluded by your definitions. That is the problem with definitions, they are open to interpretation. The list is much more certain. It also makes the Society future proof - when a manufacture comes up with a technologically new pencil, the Society just has to decide whether to add it to the list or not.

    5. OK - so make it "Only oil or wax-based coloured pencils/sticks are eligible media for the International Exhibition. This does NOT include pastel pencils or oil pastels."

  3. I just joined the CPSA this year and while I don't have something ready to enter this year, I did read through the prospectus to mentally prepare myself. I personally only own products that are both suitable for artists and legal according to their list. I haven't gotten into the detail of looking into individual colors to see if they are lightfast or not, although I printed out the test results so I can review what I have. I'm pretty shocked honestly that Crayola would be on the list of being allowed. It makes my wonder what they won't allow. I did see that they don't allow Neocolors but I never really thought of them as colored pencils either.

    1. "I'm pretty shocked honestly that Crayola would be on the list of being allowed. It makes my wonder what they won't allow."

      I don't think you will be the only person to have this response - I was pretty shocked as well.

      The thing I find puzzling about the Neocolours is I know artists who submit work to the International Exhibition who have been using them for underpaintings for ages...... but there again who's to know?

  4. What a fabulous post and I am really interested in colored pencil work.

  5. I suspect when you run a competition that awards cash prizes, it's useful to publish a list of acceptable media and clear rules for entrants so everyone competes on a level playing field. In this light the list makes perfect sense. There are so many hybrid art supplies now that make defining a "colored pencil" not as easy as it used to be. Also, on a practical level it keeps a volunteer from having to answer dozens of emails where artist's ask "Is it okay if I use [fill in blank] in my drawing?"

    The exclusion of Neocolor is regrettable because it's been widely used by many artists in their work for years, highlighted in books and articles on CP and taught in workshops. However, artists can still enter the CPSA Explore This! competition and use Neocolors (and other excluded media) so all is not lost.

    Perhaps if you look at their list in the context of running the International Exhibition it makes more sense. They're simply saying "you can use any of these products to create your entry".

  6. I'm actually looking at it in the context of the very many art societies exhibitions I study/review both nationally and internationally where the criteria used is much more simple eg watercolour societies say "water-based media" or "water-soluble media"

    This is the very first time I've ever known an art society to be this definitive. It's a first!

    Now if they'd said all fine artwork for the International Exhibition must be produced using lightfast coloured pencils (meeting a defined level) I'd have been cheering from the sidelines - because that would have meant raising the standard of media used! Maybe a stretch too far?

  7. When CPSA was originally founded there were few choices in colored pencils. It was probably easier then to figure out what a colored pencil was. Now there are infinitely more choices. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the CPSA could follow the model of the US and UK watercolor societies? I believe they include traditional watercolor, tempera, casein and acrylic as acceptable mediums in their competitions and for membership. Very dissimilar media in terms of appearance, handling and finish, but all are water soluble. Perhaps an analogous approach could be taken with colored pencils.--anything that's shaped sort of like a pencil, is colored, is dry to the touch out of the box and can be sharpened would be acceptable.

    Regarding your comment encouraging the use of lightfast pencils as a criteria for submission, I think in the CPSA there are two strains of thought regarding their mission (this is pure conjecture on my part). There's probably an advocacy within the CPSA that wants to promote artist quality colored pencil as a professional medium for serious artists. There's also another strain that promotes the use of colored pencil by the amateur who wants to enjoy drawing as a casual hobby. I'm not sure they can advocate for one with alienating the other.

  8. Scott is right about the sometimes contradictory aims of the two Societies. I certainly felt that tension in setting up the UKCPS. But his attempt at a definition shows the many pitfalls that the CPSA avoids with its list. When we say coloured pencils, we do not mean pastel pencils. Pastel pencils are the spawn of the devil, they must be shunned, cast out, excommunicated - well, you get the idea. This is the very crux of the problem. How do you define coloured pencil in such a way that pastel pencils are not allowed in? Because we don't want them in, no other reason, btw. Probably Katherine's way - you specifically exclude them - might work fine. But it may leave a back door for them to sneak in later. I just prefer the list approach.

    And please note my views are not those of the UKCPS, I no longer have anything to do with the CP world, so you can just ignore what I think anyway. But the day the UKCPS let's in pastel pencils is the day I - express a deep sigh of regret.

  9. Of course we could always have a Pencil Society - with no pencils banned ;)


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