22 May 2013

Derwent drawing pencils and carry-all

Below is my first "proper" piece in coloured pencil on black paper, which I am doing more of these days because I love them and because they are convenient for when you can only do a bit here and there, juggling domestic blissfulness with art!!! If only it was blissful.....

I`m also going to show you some sketches I did a few years ago, also on black paper and tell you a wee bit about Derwent`s very handy pencil carry-all, or whatever they call it. Derwent, if you`re reading this, I expect to be sent a free sample of your next amazing product. (A set of the new 72 count inktense blocks would be very nice indeed!)

Alas y raices
Derwent Drawing Pencils on A4 black paper

Spanish for "wings and roots" but I think we`d all agree, even if you don`t speak any Spanish, that the English version doesn`t quite fit the bill. Anyway, I got the idea from a song by Eros Ramazotti of the same title.  It`s quite a personal piece, and as one friend put it, I probably struggled with this so much because in essence, it`s about my struggle between my longing for two countries, perhaps where I`m from and where I`d like to be, but the human condition seems to be that we are never really content anywhere.  Sad, but true. "Happiness with contentment is great gain." A little gem from the Bible. 

I say "struggled" in reference to the black paper.  Below are some sketches I did a few years back, also on black paper with Derwent Drawing pencils. (Apologies again for poor photos with my iphone. Think you can tell that professional husband took the first one. Photography is not my forté.)

 I found it quite hard to do a more rendered piece, especially the skin tones, working up lots of layers as I usually do, since coloured pencils are translucent and the black paper shows through.  However, that very same characteristic of both the black paper and the pencils together, lends the artwork a distinct quality that is growing on me.  I don`t have much experience of working with other brands on black paper, but from small experiments I`ve done, it seems to me that Derwent`s Coloursoft and Drawing lines are some of the best ones to use on dark paper.  Perhaps it`s the soft, creamy wax leads that make them perfect partners.  

For me, what I love most about them and why I got them a few years ago on ebay in the first place, is the unique colour palette: 24 earthy, natural shades that you won`t find anywhere else.  Most artists use them for wildlife and portraiture, but they can have other applications and in my view, they add a dreamy, evocative mood to artwork.  If any of you out there are enthusiasts of dark paper, I`d love to hear from you as regards brands, etc. 

Now, a little on the carry-all.  

If you`re thinking of getting one, and you have a big stash of pencils, then go for it. You won`t be disappointed.  While some of Derwent`s accessories might be, in my opinion a tad gimicky, this is definitely a purchase worth considering.  As you can see from the pics, it holds a lot of pencils!! Up to 132!!! I use it mainly as an outdoor kit, so I keep small sets of different watersoluble and non-soluble pencils that I`ve bought usually quite cheaply on ebay over the last few years.  Though I would say that sometimes less is more when you`re out and about, as generally time is of the essence, and if you`ve too much choice, then you can waste precious minutes dithering about what type of pencil to use. At least that`s true for me.

 The strap is adjustable and long enough so that it can be straddled crossways over your shoulder, or if you don`t want it on, you can unhook it, and keep it in the back of the carry-all. You can also remove the sleeves much like the ringbinder files I used to use at school. (Think you can still get those?! showing my old-age!)  Handy for when you need only certain pencils out and you have less space, etc.

 As you can see, the interior front mesh pocket is big enough to stash  accessories and even a small portable watercolour box.  This is the Winsor and Newton Field Kit set.  But don`t stash it too full! I think I may have pushed it a little too far, and the mesh is starting to tear away from the lining....but nothing that a needle and thread can`t fix.

There`s a strap at the back to keep a sketchbook in.  This one is not a proper sketchbook, but I just fell in love with the design on the cover and bought it on our visit last year to Chile in Casa Ideas.  It measures 22 x 15cms and nearly 3cms thick, and I can still manage to fit a smaller black paper sketchbook in along with it. 
My only point of criticism would be that maybe they should have made it with a more durable material and certainly something waterproof, like one of their pencil wraps on the market, since most artists will doubtless use this for plein air work, and we all know what that means for most of the year in Britain and Ireland.

So, hope that this has been helpful, since I found there isn`t too much other info on the internet, other than Derwent`s own site: 


Stay tuned since I`m going to post a little on their new XL blocks soon! So Derwent, a little present please?  pretty please??


  1. I like her expression. It's rather enigmatic; keep thinking I can pinpoint it, but no.

  2. I like to leave a little to the viewer's imagination!......thanks for commenting!