There are 150 different colors of Prismacolor pencils. That's probably about 130 more than you actually need.
I buy my Prismacolor pencils in boxes of 12. I have a tall, narrow cabinet with lots of shallow drawers that are perfect for storing them. I used heavy construction paper to make divided spaces for each drawer: 7 spaces in each drawer, 9 drawers, so room for 63 different colors. I probably have 60 spaces that have colored pencils in them. It's a nice and convenient system, and I can always tell at a glance when I'm getting low on a color and need to order more.
Still, I rarely use all those colors. I'd bet that I only use about 15-20 colors on a regular basis. With the colors I use, I can pretty much build any color I want. And built-up colors get richer and richer with every added layer. Much better than just a layer or 2 with the exact color.
Still ... 150 colors! That's 90 more than I have in my cabinet!
But I've discovered over the years that you shouldn't fall too much in love with all those extra colors, because sometimes they will be discontinued, or changed slightly or renamed. So try them out for sure, but don't expect a forever relationship.
Now I'm pretty good at keeping my inventory stocked up. But every once in a blue moon I'll run out of a color mid-project or maybe while I'm waiting for an online order to arrive. Then it's off to the craft store to buy a pencil or two. And every trip I have to check out what other colors there are. Just have to!
On one of these trips about 5-6 years ago I found a color named Black Cherry. I don't know that I fell in love with the color as much as the name! Decades ago at the Varsity in downtown Atlanta, they added an ice cream counter, and I always got a black cherry cone. I never bought that flavor at the store. I only ever ordered it at the Varsity. So I think the name just conjures up happy memories.
A Black Cherry Prismacolor is a very dark, warm purple, almost brown. It's not too red, not too blue, just very deep, dark purple. And I had to have it for my very own. I bought three.
But apparently, I haven't found many places to use a Black Cherry pencil, because 2 of those I bought are still unsharpened in my cabinet ... and the third one is still almost as long as a new pencil.
And it got to be kind of a nuisance, because it lays with the other dark reds and violets in the pencils by my drawing table and I'm constantly picking it up thinking I grabbed the Tuscan Red.
My Black Cherry pencil is like a really terrible ball player that sits out the games on the bench, but is constantly begging the coach to put him in! But the coach wants to WIN the game, and he's not going to take a chance.
Poor Black Cherry pencil! I love you, I really do. I just don't know where to use you.
Then I started rendering the illustrations for the Gator Joe story in the Planning Your Book series. What a chore THAT turned out to be! If you read last week's blog you know ... Drawing! Scanning! Again, and again, and again!
But there was a little bright spot amid all that angst ... I found a place to use that Black Cherry pencil.
The water in the Okefenokee Swamp is dark because of the tannic acid in the vegetation. I immediately thought about my sidelined Black Cherry pencil ... I already had in my head the colors I wanted to use to build up the colors underneath, and the last color was going to be Peacock Green. Dark and rich, but perhaps a twinge too much green. I needed a nice dark purple to tone it down ... so what better way to finish, but with a cherry on top! A Black Cherry that is!
Aren't I clever? But it worked great ... at least on the the first two drawings. But then came the third and final drawing ... and DISASTER!!
Come back next week and I'll tell the tale ...