Friday, March 12, 2010

Watercolor Pencil and Paper Tests - Kimberly and Artist Loft Brand

I have a new sketchbook to test.  It's made by Pentalic and they donate a percentage of the book sales to the American Wildlife Foundation.  Pentalic is based in Beaverton, Oregon.  Locally, you can purchase them at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort. 843-542-2887, 812 Port Republic Street.

The paper is natural white in color and accepts pencil, charcoal, pen & ink, acrylics, pastels and watercolors.

I have found the 130 lb (212gsm) paper quite nice to work on with watercolor pencils using a waterbrush.

The paper's color is creamy compared to my favorite AquaBee Sketch Book but it really lends a favorable quality to a couple of sketches I'm currently working on.

My favorite thing to do when trying out new paper is a color chart.  Today I tried out a new package of 12 Kimberly wc pencils...... Also, made in the USA!!

I like the Kimberly brand.  They are soft and it's easy to lay down a lot of pigment without the lead breaking. They also sharpen well.  Here is my test page.  I do wish the set included raw sienna.  I'd gladly give up the pink pencil :)
This set of 12 KImberly Watercolor Pencils was reasonably priced at 11.99 in Michael's Art's & Crafts store.  Derwent's brand of wc pencils was offered at $21!

While roaming around Michael's yesterday, I ran across a new brand of art supplies they just started to carry.  I'm not sure if it's their house brand or just a new manufacturer.... Artist's Loft is the name.
There were colored pencils, wax pastels and watercolor pencils.  The wc pencils were offered at $4.99 for a set of 24 pencils!!

Okay, at that price I'll give them a whorl - especially as I had a 40% off-your-entire-purchase coupon :)
I wasn't expecting too much. Good thing.  Sorry Michael's, but I wouldn't recommend these wc pencils to anyone.  The leads broke and they were nearly impossible to sharpen.

Check out the pencils on the left side of the image below.  I didn't use the white pencil.  See how small the yellow, brown and green pencils are - I can't get them sharpened without the leads breaking. The dark green pencil actually split.

Just remember, you do get what you pay for.  Not much pigment, broken leads, split wood.  Way too much frustration even for $4.99!

Please click the images for a larger view.


  1. Well, it looks like your old standby wc pencils and this new sketchbook are winners - will have to remember this sketchbook when I need another (I do use the Aquabee for watercolor sketches - as well as my wonderful, lovely, perfect Exacompta - but it's not white or even off white so that may put some off).

  2. Good to hear from you, Rhonda! I'll have to check out Exacompta :) The Pentalic Fine Art Company also offers a neat panorama format sketchbook....Yum!

  3. I haven't sharpened my Derwent watercolour pencils yet Pam, hope I don't have the same experience as you with the Artist's Loft pencils! Will remember to avoid them when I go shopping again!

  4. Hi Maree! You shouldn't have any problems with the Derwents. I love them and will post my color test page and a new sketch using them on the new paper soon.

  5. Wow, the Pentalic sketchbook sounds wonderful! It's hard to find a nice bound paper that works well with wet media (excepting Aquabee). I looked up the Kimberly wc pencils and saw that they're made by General, whose charcoal pencils I enjoy using.

    Their wc pencil web page, says that their watercolor pencils were originally called indelible, and were used as permananet markers for legal documents! They sound as though they have great archival properties.

  6. I also do alot of shopping at michaels - I don't really like online shopping, and there are not many real art shops around anymore.

    Anyway, Michaels is hit or miss, so I try to stick to the more tried and true brand names. A few recent purchases that I am very happy with are the Derwent Sketching pencils in Chocolate, Black, and Terracotta, and Derwent Graphitint Tinted Graphite pencils. The tinted Graphite pencils are not really much like graphite - but they are watersoluble and come in some beautifully muted shades. I got the set of 12 for around $16 (40% off coupon) and really wish I had gotten a bigger set. If you like watercolor pencils, you will love these Graphitints. And they can be used with other watercolor pencils, or regular pencils

  7. Tip for WC pencil users... if the pencil 'lead' breaks when you sharpen it, it may have already been broken inside the wooden casing... to fix this, put the pencil in the Microwave oven on high for 2 mins.. the color will 'melt' and bind together again inside the pencil... and should then sharpen with no trouble.

  8. Fantastic, Elaine! Thanks so for this tip!

  9. Thank you so much for this review. I just got back from a trip to Michael's where it was a toss up between Kimberly and Artist's Loft. I unfortunately didn't get to buy any of them because I didn't read my coupon dates. NOW I'm better informed. I intended on using this particular product in scrapbooking, so I wanted to get an economical choice, so glad I ran into this review. Thank you again!

  10. Welcome, SweetieMP! Thanks for visiting and I'm happy I could help out :) Hope to hear from you again.

  11. Pam-
    Thank you so much for the test and advice.
    I have been playing with the watercolor penclls I got for Xmas and I do love them for quick sketches or for accents on regular watercolor. They are Derwent and I have to say you have to be very careful sharpening them... I need more colors so I will try the Kimberly brand next time I go to Michael's! Still have to find the right paper... hope I can find the Pentalic sketchbook somewhere locally...

  12. You're welcome, 64 shades of green! I find watercolor pencils work well on paper that doesn't have a lot of surface bumps. My favorites for sketchbook papers are Aquabee Super Deluxe and Pentallic. A lot of the time I also use Arches or Fabriano HP, other 140# cold press paper that's not too rough and Fabriano soft press paper. Thanks for visiting!