Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Life > Pricing: Graphite vs Color

Pricing: Graphite vs Color

Pricing your work is one of the harder elements of being an artist.  Today let’s talk about why color works and commissions are more expensive than graphite.   No matter what your medium the work is done in the pricing will include several factors:
  • Time invested in creating the piece.
  • The Artist’s Skill Level.
  • Materials cost.
Out of these three factors, one of the most important is the cost of materials.  Each artist needs at the very least to charge enough to pay for the materials used in the creation of the work.  

Graphite Drawings

Working with graphite your investment is mainly in basic tools such as pencils, erasers, fixatives and paper.  Because the graphite pencils themselves are economical, the artist can invest in higher quality papers.  Higher quality papers will help the finished piece retain it’s original appearance after many years.  When buying graphite work you’re investing in a quality piece of artwork.  The cost of the piece is based more on the skill level of the artist and the time invested in creating the piece.  

Colored Pencil Paintings

When you purchase a colored pencil painting the cost is higher, but why? Colored pencil painting has a higher materials and time investment for the artist than does graphite.  Let’s take a look at some of the materials needed in creating a colored pencil piece.
  • Artist Quality Pencils
  • High Quality Foundation Paper
  • Solvents
  • Greater time investment.
  Artist Quality Pencils:  These are colored pencils that are created with pigments that will withstand exposure to light.  The Colored Pencil Society of America worked in conjuction with the ASTM to develop standards for colored pencils.  Please check out this information here:  D6901 – The Standard Specifications for Artists’ Colored Pencils   Artist Quality (Lightfast) pencils do not come cheap!  Depending on the brand as well as their lightfast ratings a single pencil can cost anywhere from $1.79 to $5.40 per pencil!  Depending on the size of the artwork it’s not uncommon to use a considerable amount of any particular color.  In a recent 8 x 10 inch pet portrait I used nearly an entire cream colored pencil!   Blending the colored pencil (depending on the method chosen) will require a solvent such as Gamsol, blending/burnishing pencils or more use of the colored pencils themselves.  Achieving the vibrant colors and lifelike details requires multiple layers, many more than graphite.  The blending and layering process is much more time time consuming than that of graphite. Due to the amount of layering, colored pencil painting is much more labor intensive.  In graphite, an artist is dealing with values in gray-scale and creating detail.  In colored pencil great deal of time is spent matching and blending colors long before adding in the detailing.  It’s not unusual for a colored pencil piece to have more than twenty layers of color before it’s finished! Lastly, one of the most important parts of the equation would be the choice of foundation (paper).  No matter what medium an artist works in, the paper used is a personal preference by the artist.  That being said, when working with colored pencil blended with solvent the best paper choice is a good quality hot press watercolor paper.  The paper I choose is one that is highly recommended, Fabriano Artistico Extra White Hot Press 140 pound watercolor paper.  This paper will allow for countless layers of color and holds up to the use of solvents.  It will also stand the test of time. Here is a quote directly from Fabriano:
The Fabriano Artistico paper is mould made with 100% cotton, chlorine and acid free, guaranteeing long conservation and inalterability over time.  The paper is sized both internally and externally, making it ideally absorbent and retaining its nature unaltered even it scratched. Brilliant white, without optical bleaching. Two deckle edges and watermarked “FABRIANO+ARTISTICO” on the short side. The high quality and ample offer of this paper satisfies the requirements of all professional artists and the most demanding amateurs.  
Another paper that I’ve found works well for me is Strathmore Toned paper.  I’ve tried out the toned tan and was pleasantly surprised with how well it took layers and held up to my use of Gamsol.  While it does work out nicely, it does not take an unlimited amount of layers like the Fabriano Artistico.     So there you have it.  A brief overview of why a colored pencil painting will cost more than a graphite drawing.  I hope you have found this useful!  If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear from you! Until next time, Keep Creating!
%d bloggers like this: