by Lucy Fyles

faber-castell-24ArtGripAquarelle

Earlier this week I was sent the loveliest email from a lady at Faber-Castell. I had contacted them asking to review their products and was expecting to hear a no from most places as my blog is pretty small in comparison to many others. Despite not having anything like the 10,000 followers usually needed to be considered, they sent me a beautiful set of 24 watercolour pencils as my blog is unique in reviewing adult colouring books and mediums from a mental health perspective. I was so incredibly touched and was moved to tears by their lovely email and kind gift. I hope that I will be able to review more of their products in the future.

So, without further ado, here’s the review of their set of 24 Art Grip Aquarelle (watercolour coloured pencils). In short, these pencils are truly fabulous! I’m not saying this lightly. I can assure you that my review would be equally emphatic if I’d bought these pencils because they really are wonderful. Anyone who knows me will know that I cannot draw or paint which is a huge reason why I’m so into adult colouring. I love being creative but can’t create my own drawings without them resembling a young child’s.

I’ve not touched a coloured pencil since I left school and when I picked some up for the first time last week I really struggled. I found them hard, difficult to shade with, impossible to blend and I wasn’t far off throwing them across the room because I kept messing up the pictures. I was therefore very wary about my ability to do these new pencils justice in a review. However, when I picked them up yesterday and had a tentative play with them I was shocked at just how easy they were to use. I watched two basic video tutorials on YouTube about shading techniques and away I went.

faber-castell-sample2These pencils are wonderful as they are easy to use, comfortable to hold thanks to the triangular shape and rows of little bumps down the sides, and you can get great coverage of the palest colour by pressing as lightly as possible onto the page. They don’t streak or create huge direction lines as long as you’re a little careful with your technique, and they build up colour well.

This may sound like I know what I’m talking about, but this is me faking being an expert after watching 20 minutes of artists telling me how to colour like a pro. I truly am a beginner.

The colours are similar enough to each other that you can blend them nicely and I’m sure with a blending pencil this would work even better (I don’t own one so can’t test this yet). They give a beautifully professional look to your work after just a couple of minutes of practice. My confidence has really built over the hours I’ve spent using them. Each time I’ve finished colouring a bunny or a flower I’ve been utterly shocked that I’ve created the effects I have, when a week ago I was all for giving up on pencils for good.

The amount of different colour you can get from one pencil was astounding to me. I’ve been shocked at the versatility and range of just 24 colours. I haven’t thought even once that I wished there had been another colour that wasn’t in my tin. If you do feel that way, though, they do larger tins containing 36 or a whopping 60 pencils.

The second way of using these pencils is as watercolours. The tin encloses a small instruction booklet detailing the 3 ways you can get the watercolour effect:

  1. using a wet paintbrush after you’ve coloured,
  2. using damp watercolour paper to draw directly onto, and
  3. using a spray bottle to give a very light watercolour effect.

I tried the first method after colouring in the yellow daisy-style flower in the photo below.

faber-castell-sampleThis is the first time I’ve used watercolours since I was about 14 so I have no skill at this yet. I found that the shading I had coloured wasn’t contrasting enough, and therefore merged into one colour more than I’d have liked once I blended it with the wet brush. However, I’d like to make it very clear that this was not the pencils but merely my lack of ability to use them properly.

With some more practice I can tell that I’d be able to get some really beautiful effects in my colouring, and I look forward to experimenting further with them. Those of you who like to paint would love using these I’m sure as you get a preciseness that you won’t be able to get as easily, if at all, with paints.

In summary, these pencils are pretty much worth their weight in gold. I was a true beginner when I started using them. While I’ve got a long way to go, I already feel like an artist thanks to the ease of use and professional looking results from these pencils. If you need all the help you can get, like I do, then I’d highly recommend these pencils because I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the results. The fact that they’re two mediums in one is a huge bonus, particularly for those of you more adept at watercolour than me.

These pencils are great for stress-free colouring thanks to their usability and beautiful vibrant and calming colours (depending on pressure.) They will give you the desired effects very quickly without hours of frustrating practice. Despite having a severe anxiety disorder and often this leading me to have confidence crises as I’m not able to colour on paper the same way it looks in my head, I never experienced this when using these pencils and was pleasantly surprised (as were my family) at what I’d managed to colour.

In my opinion, Faber-Castell have created the perfect pencil for beginners. You will get a wonderful effect from the very first us. This should help any budding artist’s confidence grow and grow (often much needed in those of us with mental health problems.) Any of you who are not artistically challenged will just have your work improved by using these beautiful pencils. Go and buy them, you know you want to!

Editor’s Note:

Lucy is a UK member of my Facebook group, Coloring Books for Adults. She reviews books specifically for those suffering from mental illness. Lucy is able to bring a unique viewpoint to this target group, as both a person who suffers from her own severe anxiety disorder, and as someone who has worked with psychiatric inpatients. You can read Lucy’s blog for more information, or connect with her through Facebook.

(Since the UK uses the alternate spelling of “colour”, you’ll find “coloured pencils” and other alternate spellings used in her reviews.)

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