Welcome Bienvenidos!


Beginners Colored Pencil Class at Kirk Bear Canyon Library
March 6 5:30 - 7:30

Mixed Media Colored pencil class at Kirk Bear Canyon Library
March 20 5:30 - 7:30

Beginners Watercolor Class at Kirk Bear Canyon Library
March 27 5:30 - 7:30

Mixed Media Watercolor Class at Kirk Bear Canyon Library
April 3 5:30 - 7:30

* Individual and group tutoring is available too :) Contact me here or Facebook or my website SueBetanzos.com





Sunday, February 21, 2016

Creative Coloring Students

Yesterday's colored pencil class had a nice turnout and everyone had fun. I hope all came away with at least one good tip to improve their future coloring experiences.
The sample coloring cards provided a practice area to try out blending, shading, different colored pencil brands, new materials. It's a nice introduction to the world of colored pencils.





There are so Many, many ways to use them and the best fun is experimenting with new materials, techniques. Having someone in person show them where you can ask questions is helpful in addition to the tons of information found in bookstores, internet etc.

One of the things I really enjoy is the camaraderie and interest we experience when getting together with like minded enthusiasts. Coloring is relaxing, fun and easy to learn. Get a few basic shading and blending techniques down to take it even further. It's addicting.

Maybe we can start a Coloring Club...  :)
It's nice to get together, share information and just talk art. Find quality artist supplies at Sarnoffs and additional local places.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Three Reasons to Have A Color Journal

Making color journals and references of the media you work in can be very handy to have. Below are three reasons I like to make my color charts of colored pencils and paints.

First, start by getting your colors lined up, warm to cool or whatever works. Then do a small shade bar, from darkest to lightest.

1. Pencils, watercolors, acrylics will vary slightly (or a lot) from different manufacturers.
Also, it can be difficult for beginners to choose based on the packaging color. Having your little color reference can make it easier to see the actual color on the paper.

2. If trying a new brand, it's good to make notes on the side along with the # number of the color to refer back to when getting a palette ready for new work. Each brand and color will have it's own personality and often vary. Light fast, permanence, strengths etc.

3. It's always relaxing and fun to document observations on the colors, feel how each works.  For beginners it is an excellent way to practice shading.


The printed color chart is from Faber-Castell site. It shows all the colors in each of the sets they make. (found under Customer Service tab at the bottom).  There is another chart that lists light fastness for each color. The site will give color charts for their products.


Using a variety of brands gives me the flexibility I need to achieve the results I want.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Valentines Day!

Thinking of you , my friends and family. This is the time when I am thankful for the kindness and love in my life - the day filled with hearts, roses, festive silly love tokens that can mean so much.

I kicked off my Valentines weekend with a lovely Audubon birding event early this morning at Sweetwater Wetlands where I spotted beautiful new birds.
The early morning air was cool and crisp with bright skies, good company, friendly fellow birders. A perfect morning! Now I'm winding down to a soft starry night :)

Sending everyone vibes of love for this Valentines weekend - enjoy!

Barn Owl Love 8x10 colored pencil available Here

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Barn Owl Love In Progress

Feeling pink with Valentines coming up - plus it was my granny's favorite color. This paper is from my vintage paper stash. I knew it was meant for this pair of Barn Owls. Did you know Barn Owls mate for life?  More on Barn Owl facts in the next finished post.

Hoped to be done a few days ago for Valentine cards, but I can still make digital ones to send :)

Owl Love - 8x10" colored pencil on pink charcoal paper.
Faber Castell polychromos pencils, Derwent chinese white pencil, Prismacolor Verithin pencils,  pink charcoal paper, Kum pencil sharpener, sanding paper, kneaded eraser, clear magic tape, fine paper embosser (to use with the tape to lift color in tiny areas)
More on how to use some of the materials in this POST

Monday, February 8, 2016

Choosing Paper for Colored Pencils


I love paper. My collection includes a wide variety of sizes and types of paper for drawing & painting.
* If you have a coloring book, you can copy a design onto artist grade paper by going to a copier. Ask for assistance and do a test run to save your good paper.

With so many kinds of paper available it can be confusing to choose. Understanding what the paper will be used for will narrow the choices.
Over time and constant experimenting, preferences for brands and types will emerge. And those will probably change as new products become available every year - new stuff to test drive - yay!

A brand that is good to start with. The heavy weight paper takes the pencil well. Vellum surfaces have more tooth.

When choosing paper for colored pencil work, here are some elements I look for:

Texture of the paper.  A medium tooth works best for me. Very smooth surfaces don't have much tooth for the pencil color to grab onto, which only allows for a few layers of color. Smooth works best for ink and very detailed art that will have a few or one layer.

Weight of paper. 98 - 140 lb is my favorite. The heavier acid free paper will not wave or buckle when using light watercolor washes under the pencil work (more on that later in a mixed media post!). Heavy paper stands up to more aggressive techniques like wet under paintings and stays flat.

Paper that is archival. Acid free, PH Neutral paper means that with proper care, your beautiful artwork will last forever.

Color of paper. Depending on the type of artwork, the color can be a bright white, cream, shades of tan or brown, or grey. I like neutral backgrounds. Bright white is great for illustrative work - it makes the artwork really stand out. (I even paint all my glass mosaics bases with white to make colors pop).

Choice of sizes. My preference is for the larger, artist grade sheets which I then cut down to the sizes I need. The pads of paper such as the Strathmore Bristol vellum and Mixed Media are nice, heavy acid free papers that are great to start out or travel with. Currently I am working smaller, 9"x12" - " - 2.5' x 3". Love doing the miniatures!

Price of paper. The pads of artist grade paper can be good deals when on sale or cutting the sheets to smaller sizes. Purchasing my favorite papers by the sheet and  cutting them down can be only pennies per drawing. A great way to enjoy quality materials on a budget :)




Saturday, February 6, 2016

Materials for Colored Pencil

For those that enjoy coloring with colored pencils and either attended or want to attend another session for colored pencils at the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, a bit of information on colored pencils and the materials list.
Colored Pencils are great, portable and now are enjoying more popularity due to the trend of adult coloring books. There are many brands and versions of colored pencils and products out there. I like to combine several to get the effects I want.

Here is a list of materials recommended for awesome coloring - Happy Coloring!
Colored Pencil Session at the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library February 20 10 am - noon
Quality colored pencils. Artist quality pencils Do make a big difference. They have more pigment (hence the price difference). You will not have to press hard on the paper when coloring, which flattens the tooth of the paper. Feather touches will produce rich vibrant colors - you will Love them.
Artist quality paper. Acid free, PH neutral paper means your art will last forever with proper care. Many of the adult coloring books are printed on acid free paper. Select ones with heavier paper.
Kneaded eraser. Looks like gray putty and can be used to lift color.
 Clear tape. To remove color in addition to the kneaded eraser.
Good pencil sharpener. I like the Faber Castell brand or Kum brand. The blades last longer and depending on the pencils, you will be sharpening to keep the point. More on that below.
Sanding paper. The sanding paper is another way to keep your pencil points sharp. Little artist pads are available from an art store or make your own with 220 grit wood sandpaper.
Small artist sketchbook. To make your color charts of your pencils, record the colors. I like to make a small color dot of each color to see how they shade.
Pencil. To make notes for colors etc. I like mechanical ones - no sharpening :)


Some materials will be provided for the students to try out at the library sessions. For some resources to get these materials, I have listed them in this POST.

Below I have listed some materials I like for colored pencil artwork. Try some and find what you like best. Curiosity and experimenting with different materials is how you will learn and form your own favorites list of art toys.
I like using a variety of brands, each has their own qualities.

Faber Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils.
Rich in pigment, they go on smoothly with the lightest touch. Most of the colors are very lightfast.
As an oil based pencil, the lead is slightly harder than a wax based pencil. They hold a sharp point longer, last longer, have high quality wood casings. My favorites.

Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils.
They are the fine lead version of the regular Prismacolor Colored Pencils. I often use them for fine line work. They hold their point longer than the softer regular Prismacolor. Wax based.

Prismacolor Colored Pencils
I started out with these wax based colored pencils and still have quite a few of them as well as the Verithins. Richly colored, buttery soft wax based lead lays down smooth color, but constantly needs resharpening to hold a fine point. They also get a waxy bloom after a few layers that needs a fixative. Although I still use them sometimes, it's mostly the PC Verithins I use from this brand. Wax based.

Derwent Inktense Pencils
They go on like watercolor pencils but what I really like is they behave like acrylics. Meaning, once they are dry they are permanent. This means that multiple glazes can be applied. It also means you can't go back to remove or lighten the color once it has been laid down with water. Colors are lovely, rich. A set of inexpensive small to medium brushes is recommended. Very little water needed.

Mona Lisa Odorless Mineral Spirits
Solvent blending liquid. One of my methods of blending colored pencils for a base. Dries fast, Very little is needed. If you are coloring in one of the coloring books, do a test first on similar paper and use inexpensive small brushes.

Kum and Faber Castell Pencil Sharpeners
There are Many sharpeners out there. I like these german products because of the quality blades that last longer. Since I mostly use the small hole of the two holed sharpeners, I just switch out the blades when one gets dull. The small two hole sharpener is about 2.60 at Sarnoffs in Tucson :) Great value.

*A last note on artist grade colored pencils.
Besides being wonderful to work with, artist quality brands also sell the pencils Open Stock.
This means that you can buy the colors individually to either add to the set or replace when you need more of certain colors - instead of having to buy a whole set for one or two colors.

Go to your local art store and get one color to try out the brand. Choose a color that doesn't come in the smaller sets and you will have an additional color when you Do get that set :)