Frequently asked questions:

How long have you been coloring?

In third grade, I drew a St. Bernard for my father. He's a draftsman and assumed that I had traced a photo. A poodle, a dachshund, and a bulldog later, he finally decided that I needed art classes immediately.

I've been making art ever since. I'm an illustrator by training, technical drawings which emphasize extreme accuracy. I've freelanced for medical and scientific supply companies, textbook publishers, teaching hospitals, and the USDA. I've dabbled in formal portraiture and botanical watercolor too.

My primary medium has always been colored pencil (I was one of only three colored pencil specialists in art school). I started with Prismacolor in 1985 with a set of 12 pencils.

Markers were a required subject for illustration students. I've used artist-grade markers since 1989 and I am Copic Certified..

 

Do you teach live classes in my area?

Currently, I only teach local classes- Macomb Township and Oxford, Michigan. I'd love to guest teach if my schedule allows. Contact me at info@vanillaarts.com to discuss.

 

What's the difference between a starter, beginner, and intermediate?

A starter is someone who has no coloring experience. Starter status has nothing to do with skill level; it's simply someone who is completely new to colored pencil.

Beginner is an actual skill designation. Beginners are still learning to blend, to shape objects, and they are not very successful at independent coloring. There is no time frame for beginnerhood. I've seen people pick up their first colored pencil and color like a pro. I've also met people who have colored for years and are still beginners. Time does not equal skill.

Intermediate indicates that the person is capable of and comfortable working alone with minimal instruction or aid. A way to test if you've moved past beginner status is to look at someone else's work. If you immediately come up with 2-3 ways of replicating that project, you are likely not a beginner anymore. For my classes, intermediate is more than just technical skill level, it's also a flexible mind.

 

Can I take your classes using a different brand of colored pencils?

Sure, but I teach with Prismacolor Premier pencils for a very specific reason. Read more here.

You'll also need to find a good conversion chart because all the course materials are written for Prismacolor. Please note that colors are not universal from brand to brand and Prismacolor has a few colors not found in other product lines. Even in my professional work, I still rely on a large number of Prismas to supplement my full collection of Luminance pencils.

 

Why do you combine colored pencils with watercolor or other water media?

I began working with colored pencils long before anyone thought to blend with solvents and honestly, the technique has never felt comfortable to me.

The solvent-blended effect simply doesn't appeal to me. When done well, it looks amazing but more often than not, the look is muddy. I'd much rather celebrate colored pencils for what they can do than to try to mimic the look of oil paints. I know how to oil paint, if I wanted that look, it's easier to just pull out my oil paints!

Colored pencils are for thinking artists. If left natural, they layer without fully blending. We may see red from afar, but upon closer inspection, it's likely layers of magenta over yellow and black areas can be made with layers of red over blue over green. That's a cerebral approach which really excites me and keeps me coming back to colored pencils every day.

Having said that, I don't much appreciate the grainy look that comes with colored pencils. Underpainting my images with watercolor fills in the white tooth of the paper and provides a vibrancy without the use of chemicals, solvents, or hand damaging blender pencils.

 

Do you sell the class digital stamps separately?

Most stamps are reserved exclusively for class use. My stamp shop is here with many of my previous class images. If you don't find the image you're looking for, email me at amy@vanillaarts.com and ask. If it's not reserved for classes only, I can usually pop it into the shop within 24 hours.

 

I've heard about problems with Prismacolor pencils, why do you still recommend them?

I know people worry about Prismacolor quality. For thoughts on the subject, see my article here.

 

What paper do you recommend?

I've worked colored pencils on a variety of papers including Strathmore Bristol Board, Illustration Board, Stonehenge Paper, and Canson Mi-Teints.

For testing and exercises, I use plain old office grade 110lb cardstock. Yep, it's got enough tooth to run color studies, blending tests, and samples... and it's dirt cheap.

Unfortunately, not all papers are compatible with watercolor. Because of my heavy watercolor applications (and I keep adding more as I grow artistically) I now work almost exclusively on two surfaces-

  • Fabriano Artistico Hot Press, Extra White- either 140lb or 300lb

  • Aquabord or Pastelbord from Ampersand

 

I'm trying to decide between taking one of your Copic classes or this colored pencil class. You've said that Colored Pencil Plus will improve the look of my Copic projects, should I take the colored pencil class first?

Marker and colored pencil are two different worlds and not all skills translate from one medium to the other.

Taking the pencil class first will make you more comfortable with the pencil portions of Marker Painting lessons but pencil skills won't make the actual Copic coloring any easier.

I would focus on the medium that you're most interested in first. If your love is markers, focus on those classes. If you'd rather zone in on colored pencil skills, Colored Pencil Plus is more suited to that goal.

By the way... Marker Painting Foundations is designed for "starters" (people with no coloring experience). Colored Pencil Plus is a beginner level which assumes you have some coloring experience. This may effect your decision.

 

Can I take a Marker Painting workshop and the Colored Pencil Plus course at the same time?

Absolutely! If you've got the time, I can keep your hands busy.

I"m not sure I'd recommend taking both of my 12 week courses at the same time though. Both Marker Painting Foundations and Colored Pencil Plus are mentally taxing. Even if you have the time, you'll get less from both classes due to the fact that it's hard to concentrate on two intensive courses at once.

Marker Painting Basics is a once per month lesson and my Workshop has other a la carte marker classes, they're a better fit with the demands of Colored Pencil Plus.

 

Can I purchase just one of the weekly floral lessons from Colored Pencil Plus? I saw the _____ project and I'd love to take just that class!

I'm sorry, CP+ videos do not work as individual classes. Each project builds upon previous week and the videos frequently refer back to prior concepts and discussions. Selling you access to a single lesson would be like handing you half a banana bread recipe, you might make something out of it but it'd be hard.

 

What is your refund policy?

For all classes and courses in my Workshop (including Colored Pencil Plus and Marker Painting Foundations) the 30 day refund policy begins the day you enroll in the class. Note that if you purchase during a pre-sale, your 30 days starts with the purchase date, not the class start date.

Sorry, but there are no refunds on the Vanilla Livestream class, Patreon simply does not have a method for offering refunds. Unsubscribe before the 1st day of the month to stop further charges from accruing.