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Learning Through Inspiration with Joan Bardee

May 8, 2019

In today’s episode of Learning Through Inspiration, it’s me v. colored pencils! They may look innocent, and remind you of your easy kindergarten days of coloring with crayons, but do not be fooled. These sharpened bits of color:

*Break, (even the ones that aren’t supposed to break, are sitting on my desk broken),

*Are hard to blend,

*Don’t work well on smooth cardstock, and

*Need lots of sharpening.

On the other hand:

*I already own them! (you probably do too),

*They work on dark cardstock, and

*You can get a good workout coloring with them!

I’ve used color pencils before. In fact, my first Learning Through Inspiration post uses colored pencils on colored cardstock. But I have much to learn. So, I’m continuing my study of the masterful Heather Telford by focusing on her use of colored pencils. (By the way, Heather lives in Canada and uses “coloured” rather than “colored.” Since I’m in the US, I’m sticking to the US version of the word, but I rather like Heather’s version!).

I’ve found by studying others’ cards I can figure out what they are doing that appeals to me and apply it to my own cardmaking. Let’s see what happened when I tried to learn something about colored pencils from Heather…



*Black cardstock!! I almost always use a white card base and I just love this unusual look.

*Look at the birdcages in Heather’s first card. Heather managed to color them with pencils and still have a lot of areas highlighted with white and light blue – and she did that on black cardstock!

*And, look at the poppy in the second card! It’s stunning! Hard to believe that Heather achieved that rich smooth color with pencils.

*Heather matted her main image with cardstock in her first card, and, for her second card, ink-blended a mat. I need to use mats more often.

*Love the interesting die treatment on the top of the black card. I don’t have that die but it is a great way to add a sentiment.



*You need the right paper to color with pencils. Smooth paper – such as Neenah Solar White – doesn’t work well with colored pencils, at least not for me. The paper needs some “tooth” for the pencils to grab. (My second card uses a pale gray cardstock, not white.)

*It’s worth the time and supplies to test your pencils (and embossing powder) on the cardstock you will use. Colored pencils that are close in color will look very different on the same cardstock. And the same pencils will give a completely different look on different dark cardstocks. I wasted a lot of time and supplies before I figured this out.

*Continue to sharpen your pencils as you color!

*Heather didn’t use a blending solution and neither did I. I didn’t have Gamsol, or any other blender, and am too cheap to buy some (I try to spend most of my crafting $$ on stamps, dies, and stencils). So, I colored most of each leaf or flower with a lighter pencil, added shading with a darker pencil, and then colored again with the lighter pencil over most of the image. This technique worked better on larger images, like the leaves in the second card.

*Coloring very small images with colored pencils is particularly difficult.

*Did I get the same results as Heather? No — I don’t have Heather’s talented hands. But my technique improved.

*For my first card, I chose a dark green card base simply because I never use green cardstock and learning is a great time to experiment (a little nerve wracking experimenting on the Penny Black blog, but I’m having fun). Speaking of fun, aren’t the flowers from Flower Fantasy, used in both cards, gorgeous?

*Matted the colored panel onto gold cardstock and then onto a white card base. If I had to do it again, I’d make the stamped panel smaller in order to show off more of the gold mat. I thought about it, but I had spent so much time coloring those flowers that I hated to cut off more of the design. That was probably not the best decision.

*For my second card, I wanted to try a lighter card base and my attempts to color on white were dismal. So, I paired a pale gray cardstock with a combination of red and pink pencils. Decided to trim the panel and adhere to a white card base without any additional matting. I’m still working on getting those layers perfectly lined up!


MOOD WHEN DONE: While I wasn’t able to achieve the smooth look that Heather achieved, I enjoyed using my pencils and might take them out again soon. “Might” because it took forever to make these cards.

On the other hand (HA), I love the look of colored pencils on darker cardstock. Add a few jewels, and that top card reminds me of rich Indian fabric. However, if I want a light card base, I’ll probably stick with watercolors or alcohol markers.

I continue to be so grateful to Jill Foster and Penny Black for providing me with some gorgeous stamps and dies, and the opportunity to share here on the Penny Black blog. And I’m grateful to Heather for providing so much inspiration!

Finally, thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment. I appreciate those comments very much! I’ll be back with more Heather Telford inspired work.

for the products featured on Joan’s cards above

Card One Supplies: Penny Black Flower Fantasy, 30-565; Penny Black Sympathy Sentiments, 30-582; green, white, and gold cardstocks; Wow Metallic Gold Rich Superfine Embossing Powder; Versamark ink; Prismacolor Pencils: True Blue, Aquamarine, and Non Photo Blue; gold jewels; time.

Card Two Supplies: Penny Black Flower Fantasy; 30-565; Penny Black Butterfly Garden, 30-558; gray and white cardstocks; Prismacolor Pencils: Process Red, Crimson Red, and Pink Rose; Versafine Onyx ink; clear jewels.

Disclaimer: From time-to-time we have guest bloggers post on our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Penny Black Inc. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
31 Comments leave one →
  1. Bonnie Revell-Miller permalink
    May 8, 2019 2:35 am

    What products were used on Heather’s card?

    • May 8, 2019 4:26 am

      I’m not sure but I’ll see what I can find out!

    • May 15, 2019 6:41 am

      for the first card Heather used PB Good Neighbors and Spice of Life sets, for the second card she used PB Poppy Time

  2. Diane T permalink
    May 8, 2019 4:11 am

    You are so brave with your experimentation!
    Thank you for all your hard work. Such an inspiration.

    I recently used my colored pencils and realized I had no idea how to approach them. I used smooth white card stock and started coloring in small circles with a light color. Then added a darker shade and a blending pencil. Nothing great. After reading your post, I will try again. And yes, alcohol markers are much faster and brighter but perhaps, less forgiving.

    • May 8, 2019 4:27 am

      thanks. It is intimidating to do this series, but I am learning and hope you are too!! Good luck trying colored cardstock!

  3. Janielle permalink
    May 8, 2019 5:37 am

    Hello Joan. Thank you for every effort that you have put in to this post. You have made it easier for us crafter not to fall into the same errors. I’m keeping my eye on theses posts. I’m from South Africa and we also use “colour” 🙂 keep on keeping on.

  4. Betty permalink
    May 8, 2019 5:42 am

    I think you did a fantastic job of using colored pencils, Joan – especially love the green and gold card – colored pencils and some prestamped cards are wonderful when I visit my kids and have time to color when they are at work or school.

  5. Linda Hatcher permalink
    May 8, 2019 6:43 am

    What brand of card stock seems to work best with colored pencils?

    • May 15, 2019 6:43 am

      I’m not an expert and really can’t answer, but I’ll do it anyway! HA. Seriously, google cardstock for colored pencils and you’ll see a lot of results. For colored cardstock, I haven’t seen a difference in major brands. They all have the tooth that i need to use pencils.

  6. catcraig permalink
    May 8, 2019 6:50 am

    Your cards look fabulous. I like to blend with a dry prisma color blender pencil. Not messy like gamsol, baby oil or other solvents.

  7. Judy Jung permalink
    May 8, 2019 7:24 am

    Joan, I love your inspiration posts. I learned a lot from this one. Reading your posts is like being next to you as we make cards! Hugs.

  8. May 8, 2019 7:41 am

    I think your cards turned out beautiful. I use pencils quite a lot and it’s a lot of hard work to make the penceils look good. I think you did very well.

  9. Debbie P permalink
    May 8, 2019 9:06 am

    Your cards are beautiful. Thank you for all the great tips The stamp set is fantastic.

  10. Ginger permalink
    May 8, 2019 9:12 am

    Thank you for the tips on cardstock. I have pencils ,but have not used them on a card. Love the use of green unexpected. Looking forward to your next post.

  11. Mitzi permalink
    May 8, 2019 9:44 am

    Joan, I really appreciate your sharing of working to improve the use of a medium. I have a large set of Prismas and need to use them more often. I recently discovered that they colored and blended very smoothly on the inexpensive Recollections cs from Michaels. I now need to try them on colored cs as I have never done that… or on kraft cs, and I like both those looks when others do it. Thanks for some good advice.

  12. May 8, 2019 10:12 am

    You may be in learning mode but the results of it are truly lovely. I’d say this was a total success.

  13. Sheri Kempke permalink
    May 8, 2019 10:59 am

    Thank you for this experiment, I will heed what you have learned and your advice and try to apply it to my own color pencil coloring. Both of your cards look fantastic and hes, Heather’s cards are awesome and serve as great inspiration. Thanks for sharing with us.

  14. May 8, 2019 4:17 pm

    First of all, Joan, you sell yourself far too short! I love your cards, and I especially love the darker one. It’s so dramatic and reminds me of a rich fabric (an old quilter here…haha). You are right about the time it takes to use colored pencils. I also do not use any gamsol and use a toothy card stock. Beautifully done, and you’ve inspired me. Hugs!

  15. Patt H. permalink
    May 8, 2019 4:39 pm

    Thanks, Joan, for making me realize I’m not the only one that struggles with the pencils. I will try your tips next time & maybe improve my work. Love reading your blog & I think your cards are beautiful! You have inspired me!

  16. May 9, 2019 2:39 am

    Joan, I love your Learning Through Inspiration posts! Your cards are beautiful (and I need that floral set!).

  17. Sue Scott permalink
    May 9, 2019 6:57 am

    Joan I just love your green/blues card, “Wishing you healing”. I do have a lovely collection of coloured pencils which I must try out on coloured card. Thank you so very much for the inspiration – keep up the good work!! Sue x

  18. Becky Partan permalink
    May 9, 2019 7:15 am

    Both your cards are gorgeous. I didn’t even realize you used the same set on both cards until you mentioned it. That’s awesome. Makes the set even more valuable. 🙂

  19. Janet B permalink
    May 9, 2019 8:21 am

    Thank you for sharing all your experimentation with us! Your cards are beautiful and have inspired me to get out my colored pencils:)

  20. MelH permalink
    May 9, 2019 9:52 am

    I have two sets of Prisma pencils. The older set is so much easier to work with, so much faster. It feels as if the lead is much softer, so more color lays down with each stroke of the pencil. I’ve used both Gamsol and the Prisma blender pencil. Both blend the older Prisma great, not so much with the newer Prisma.The old set was twice the price of the newer set, proving that you’d better really protect yours if you have the older ones. 2008 was when the production changed from USA to elsewhere.
    I always love your cards, Joan, this time especially the layout and coloring on the top one.

  21. Marisela Delgado permalink
    May 9, 2019 4:15 pm


  22. Janine Brain permalink
    May 9, 2019 6:37 pm

    They both turned out beautifully

  23. Lee Winemiller Cockrum permalink
    May 10, 2019 9:22 am

    Your cards look fabulous!! I need to take inspiration from you, and just try new things to learn and practice!! I like everything to be “good” from the beginning!?

  24. Karen Brandt permalink
    May 10, 2019 4:47 pm

    The flowers really pop on the green background, and the color on the flowers looks so smooth and rich. I just love this series, thank you for doing this!

  25. June 6, 2019 7:35 am

    Beautiful, I especially love the green card!

  26. Daria permalink
    September 2, 2019 5:19 am

    Thank you for another wonderful inspiration post. I enjoy seeing the original cards and your cards and reading your comments. I love using colored pencils, and I appreciate your tips. Heather’s cards are gorgeous. I especially love the poppy card. Your cards are also wonderful. I especially love the first one. I don’t blame you for not wanting to cut that piece down. Thank you for this series.

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