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How To Sharpen a Prismacolor Pencil

I am often asked about what pencil sharpeners to use with colored pencils. I found this short video on that gives some great tips.

I am not so sure about using the electric pencil sharpener but I do suggest the handheld sharpener she shows in the video.

Hope that helps!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

My View on Art Appreciation Using Dover Coloring Books

Dover Coloring Books Using Them for Art Appreciation
Someone commented yesterday on this blog that they didn’t think that using Dover Coloring Books was real “art”. I agree completely. I also know that in our family they have contributed to a lot of great “art appreciation”.

There is the problem. If you are looking for a product that will teach great art skills and techniques, these coloring books are not the solution. I am looking at the coloring books as a tool to learning some very valuable concepts in a more rounded art program. I do feel that the use of coloring books is a great way to introduce small useful skills. I admit that simply handing your child the coloring book and instructing them to complete a page will not help them learn much except to have a little skill with a colored pencil. I never intended or encouraged families to use the coloring books that way in my art program or on this blog.

Here are some random thoughts about the use of Dover Coloring Books.

I have a child who never colors inside the lines of a coloring book. I am the opposite and at first it drove me crazy that he wouldn’t follow the lines as boundaries for separate colors. Using the lines as a basic guide and not as a strict “do not cross” line, your child can individualize the pages.

I have seen how observing the black lines of the coloring pages shows them how to set up their own paintings. By comparing the coloring book outlines to the original artist’s painting, they can see how the sketch you start from doesn’t always show all the details. It may not seem like an earth-shattering concept but it is something that every artist needs to know.

I know when I first started out trying to “teach” art with my children I felt very inadequate. In those days I thought I had to know exactly what to do so I could “teach” it to my children. Time has helped me see that I do not need to know everything and that starting out with art coloring books is a great way to introduce my children and myself to great artists. It was as stepping stone to picture study.

Harmony Fine Arts uses Dover Coloring Books in almost every level for various reasons. The plan uses the coloring pages as a follow up to picture study. Another way they are used is as a connection between history and art. My boys love the Dover Coloring Books that teach about a period in history. They are always eager to pull out their art supplies and get started when it is time to get into the coloring books. They are just another tool to hook their interest and create an anticipation for a topic. It also gives them time to experiment with various art supplies.

One benefit of using Dover Coloring Books has become clearer as the years have ticked by. They actually helped my children learn to draw. My middle son loves to draw airplanes but if you have ever tried to draw a real airplane you realize just how hard it is to get the wings to look right and the shape of the airplane to be in proportion.

My son solved this problem by looking at Dover Coloring Books. He uses them as a guide when he is trying to make his airplanes “look right”. He is very visual and after looking at the drawing in the coloring book he can see how the author solved the problem and imitate it in his own drawing by first tracing it and then after he became more familiar with the shapes and perspective, he could draw it free hand. Thanks to the black line drawings in the Dover Coloring Books he is now very proficient at drawing airplanes.

As I stated at the beginning of this entry, I am a color in the lines girl. My children have really taught me that you don’t have to be confined in between the lines. Staying within the lines is comfortable for some of us but if you can use the coloring books as a tool in the bigger homeschooling picture, they have a solid place in the creative aspects of your day.

Vary your medium. Try using colored pencils,


watercolor pencils,

thin markers, crayons, graphite pencil, oil pastels.

My reasons for using and suggesting Dover Coloring Books can be summed up by this statement:
Dover Coloring Books are a tool to be used alongside picture study and in addition to a gradual program of learning to draw and paint.

Best general art appreciation coloring books:
Art Masterpieces to Color
Impressionist Art Masterpieces to Color

You can read more of my thoughts and ideas for using coloring books on my Dover Coloring Books-Art Appreciation Ideas page on Squidoo.

Drawing With Children: Les 5 Colored Pencils


Using Colored Pencils in Your Nature Journal
Drawing With Children – Lesson 5 Colored Pencils

Have I told you how much I love colored pencils? Until I started buying good quality colored pencils, I didn’t realize their potential for making a really good drawing. Colored pencils come in different hardnesses just like drawing pencils. Harder pencils are more difficult to get a lot of color from and they don’t blend very well. I prefer to use a softer lead. I know most of us start off with colored pencils from Crayola or some other popular reasonably priced company and that is okay. Just remember when you are moving up in the school years that your children might be ready to handle and get better results from a better quality colored pencil.

My favorite brand of colored pencils for older students is Prismacolor. I know these pencils are a little pricey but you can find smaller sets at art supply stores or places like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I always use a 50% off coupon when I am purchasing them at Michael’s. I also found them locally at the college bookstore and they had them at a *serious* discount. You just need to plan ahead and keep alert to sales.

So how do I use colored pencils in my nature journal? I try to carry a set with me when I have room in my backpack. I remove them from the cardboard container and put them in a more sturdy plastic tub.

I also have a tin filled with watercolor colored pencils from Prismacolor. If you are going to splurge on an art supply for yourself, these are worth the price. You use them just like regular colored pencils but then you can use a brush and water to make the drawing into a painting.

To begin a sketch in your nature journal using colored pencils, I suggest first sketching the scene or item out with your favorite drawing pencil and then you can go back and use your colored pencils.

Some examples:
I sketched this out lightly with a drawing pencil first and then went back to add some color.
This sketch was done by my son after watching the goldfinches at our birdfeeder. He sketched the bird using a field guide and pencil. Then he went back and added the color to the sketch for his nature notebook.

Now, how about a video tutorial? I made two videos, one that shows the differences between the colored pencils and one that shows how to use the watercolor colored pencils. Enjoy.

There really is no mystery to using colored pencils. They don’t make a mess. They are easily transported. They give great results.

Here are the rest of the Lessons:

Lesson 1 – Getting Started

Lesson 2 – Drawing from Graphics

Lesson 3 – Still Life

Lesson 4 – Volume Drawing

Lesson 5 – Conte Crayons

Lesson 5 – Chalk Pastels

Lesson 5 – Drawing Pencils

Lesson 5 – Colored Pencils

Lesson 5 – Oil Pastels

Lesson 5 – Watercolors

Click to each lesson for adaptations, suggestions, and videos.


You can download all the Drawing With Children – Nature Journal Style Lesson Plans here: Drawing with Children Lesson 1 – Getting Started.


Cover Grade 4

Please note that Drawing With Children is part of the Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 Curriculum. You can click over to read more about this art and music appreciation plan here:

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 – Explanation

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 – Sample

The plans in Harmony Fine Arts Grade 4 relate the lessons to a study of great art and artists. Please see page 9 in the sample linked above to get an idea how I do this in the plans.

Supplies Needed for All the Lessons Listed Above

Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to products I own and recommend.

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