Definition of Colored Pencil Medium

For acceptance into CPSA International Exhibitions, artists are required to use only materials considered to be colored pencils by CPSA. In the past this involved individual brand and/or product specific approval. CPSA, through this definition, is now providing a more general, less brand or product specific description to help artists understand why some materials are approved while others are not.

Dry drawing materials are made of coloring agents or pigments combined with a binder of some kind and come in a wide range of forms. It is helpful to view these materials as part of a broad spectrum of drawing media. The colored pencil medium is situated near the middle of a continuum that stretches from soft pastel on one end to oil pastels and oil bars on the other end. With the proliferation of new dry media, however, it has become much more challenging to define what is, in fact, colored pencil media.

  1. CPSA approved colored pencil materials must come in a solid dry form.

That includes regular colored pencils, water-soluble colored pencils, and pencils where the pigment is encased in wood as well as art sticks which are solid pigment. We do not restrict how the pencils are applied and permit the use of water and other solvents.

  1. CPSA approved colored pencil materials cannot be brushed off.

This refers specifically to colored pencil media applied on regular paper surfaces. It does NOT refer to brushing off loose ‘crumbs’ of colored pencil but instead refers to brushing off dry pigment as is possible with soft pastels. This does NOT refer to the ability of colored pencil media to be brushed off of sanded papers and other similar surfaces.

  1. CPSA approved colored pencil materials must dry completely.

Due to the nature of the materials from which they are composed, oil based colored pencils dry completely while oil pastels and oil bars do not.

The appearance of the material is not the basis upon which the determination of approval is based. Some colored pencil media have wood coverings while others do not. Rather, the material must be placed within the continuum of dry drawing materials and then determine whether the above three requirements are met.

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