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The most singular characteristic of colored pencils is that they are not graphite pencils. Most of us are familiar with graphite pencils, having used them throughout our lives. As such, we often think using colored pencils is no different, other than a change of color. But this logic is false.

Colored pencils are semi-opaque and somewhat transparent, similar to watercolor in many ways. Layers of color combine to create complex images that are visually interesting and can resemble the colors found in nature. Colored pencils are also forgiving and allow for error and recovery, enabling learning through adjusting your drawing. 

This class explores the unique characteristics of this medium and how it can be used to create a wide range of artwork, from photorealistic to expressive and impressionistic pieces, depending on how the pencil is applied. We will learn how to use these simple and inexpensive materials and work within the medium to develop and experiment with your own unique style.

Mary Shira is an instructor at JMU’s School of Art, Design and Art History, where she teaches Foundation classes in Studio and has lectured in Art History since 1997. She holds an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and both a BFA and MS Ed from St. John’s University. As an active artist, her award-winning paintings have been displayed in several galleries, juried shows, and national touring exhibitions and explore the place of nature in the modern world. 

Suggested Colored Pencil Supplies: 

Strathmore 300 series Bristol Board Pad, 11 X 14 or 14 X 17 - 20 sheets Vellum

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Sets,  Set of 36 or 48 assorted colors -or- Individual colored pencils 

Prismacolor Premier Pencil Colorless Blender   

Staedler Mars Plastic Eraser      

General’s Kneaded Eraser, Large   

Maped Hand-Held Pencil Sharpener, Dual Hole 


There are no scheduled sessions at this time. Sign up to be notified when this course is available.

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