How Many Colored Pencils Are Too Many?

Such a question! I could say, “when they don’t fit in my colored pencil cabinet anymore.” Don’t laugh, I am sure I am not alone in this pencil passion.

pencil cabinet

The real question is why “more” may be better than “less”.

Yes, I love organization, as you can see. Also, the minimalist movement thrills me. So maybe when I pair down all my belongings, all I will have left is my colored pencil collection. They are stored neatly by color, because when you need a specific color you don’t want to dig thru hundreds looking for it. The wonderful thing about this cabinet, is the doors slide right out to place on my drawing table, like small rainbow segments.

slightly open

One reason for so many, is I have different brands of pencils to achieve softer and richer tones which those allow. Some are better for sharp detail and others for creamy blending.  (A post for another time.)

Secondly, I have shared with you the richness of layering colors. This process is very labor intensive. My youngest and oldest students complain of their hands getting tired after coloring for awhile. I smile at my wee ones as they need to build up some strong hand muscles. But I sympathize more so with much older artists, who may have arthritis, and the desire to color is only restrained by an aching hand.

Going right for the desired shade of purple for instance is much easier than than layering to achieve the color. But there is yet another reason.

greenspurples pinks

Some colors, like a soft peach or cream tone is much more difficult to achieve by blending. Coloring isn’t meant to be frustrating. Make it easier and get the bright blues, aquas, purples, pinks and ruby reds. Get a variety of soft creams and flesh tones. Find your favorite shade of pink. These are the colors that are hardest to create from a box of 12 colors.

single drawer

Delight in the kaleidoscope of colors available, just don’t forget to use the others to enrich them.

Pass along the passion,


Update 1-14-2017: Here is the fun mug Jill mentioned in her comment. These are just the ones she keeps handy in her kitchen for “when the mood hits”. Ready for inspiration!

– I love it.



2 thoughts on “How Many Colored Pencils Are Too Many?”

  1. Ok – now I’m inspired to organize my pencils. I have far fewer than you, but more than will fit in my “pencil mug” (I’ll send you a picture). I’m definitely a novice at coloring and love the idea of layering the colors. I’ll have to experiment with that.

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