Self Portrait by Amy Erickson I look at a lot of art, and I don’t tend to see colored pencil drawings popping up in the mix of esteemed or daring artworks. Oils, pastels, graphite, watercolor, ink, even conte is common in museums and galleries, but colored pencils seem to be a material outgrown as soon as any of the others are acquired. As a kid I had a disappointment set of pencils. The colors looked exciting in the box, but for soft paper they were way too hard, and had more wax than pigment. I figured all colored pencils were wuss sticks. Then I got a set of 12 Derwent, and made some of the first drawings that I ever liked. It wasn’t the “thing” in the drawing that I loved, it was watching the pigment grab onto the paper fibers. I could watch that all day. The colors were limited, but the pigment was rich and vibrant. The color took eagerly to the paper. I was to a sad end, though, because I hadn’t yet learned that the core of a pencil is breakable, so after dropping them on the floor a few dozen times I was blocked by the frustration of trying to sharpen the wood away from shafts as they cracked and crumbled with every 1/4 inch removed. I’m sorry to say that with this tiny impasse, I gave them up entirely. After 30 years I’ve rediscovered pencils. Yes, really. It took a year like 2020, but yes I’ve come round. Here I am, after countless pigment sticks and fluids, I’m back to the simple thing I started with all those years ago. I’m back in love with the pencil. I’ve found that each brand of pencil offers a different “feel.” Some are rich and buttery like fine oil paints, others are soft and crumbly like delicate soft pastels. If you get a set of pencils with a good amount of pigment, and paper with enough tooth to allow the colors to build and blend, you have yourself a delightfully tidy art kit that’s great for travel, or for this continued quarantine, for drawing while sitting at a desk. No paint or charcoal dust in the keyboard. Nothing spilled, dripped, spread, smeared or crusted dry and ruined. Color lives patiently in the pencil, and when called, lands with sensitivity on paper, only. Finding myself conveniently at my desk for another day, I did some art hunting for colored pencil drawings, and I have a few new V. Notes on the way. Feeling inspired, I splurged and ordered two new art supplies to try: a pad of Strathmore paper specially made for colored pencils, and a set of woodless Koh-i-Noor colored pencils. I promise not to drop them. Drawings by Amy Erickson Man, Color Pencil on Paper, 4″x7″, 2020 Amy Erickson lives and works in Seattle. She likes to draw with colored pencils. Sugar Violet, Graphite and Color Pencil on Hand-Toned Paper, 9″x12″, 2014 “I use color pencils because they are an immediate way for me to explore color without having to fuss with mixing paint. I can use them for slow and detailed realism or for quick and painterly sketches. I can erase color pencils in the beginning stages of a drawing so it is less intimidating to sketch with them than with watercolor. They are not as messy as chalk pastels but I can still produce gestural and layered effects. Color pencils are the perfect medium to use when I don’t feel like painting but I want something more fun than tonal drawing.” – Amy Erickson Yarrow, 2021 Quick Figure Drawing, 2021 Self Portraits, 2021 Amy’s favorite: Faber-Castell brand, and woodless color pencils.