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A well above average colored pencil at a good price
on September 1, 2011
This box of 50 Sargent Art Colored Pencils (# 22-7251) is a well-above-average colored pencil product at a good price. As moods of colors go, the ones here are much more representative of the spectrum, its in-betweens and the neutrals, than the vivid kid-oriented brands like Cra-Z-Art, RoseArt or Crayola. All four of the above lines are physically of good quality, but the makeup of the leads ("color cores") in the Sargent Art colored pencils is a skosh closer to a real artist colored pencil (or "stick") than mass brands aimed at ages three and up. Here are some reasons why this pencil is so good, and why it may not be ideal for younger kids (ages 3 - 8, say):
PROS: -- Round barrels;
-- Accurate colors;
-- Solid wood barrels makes for good sharpening (but always use a handheld sharpener);
-- Pencils come pre-sharpened well, with hard conical points;
-- To get much "artier," more professional colored pencils cost a lot more than this set;
-- Adequate number of neutral and earth tones.
Yet there is a price to pay for pencils that have some of the temperament of adult or semi-pro colored pencils.
CONS: -- Some pencils will have different degrees of "drag" because in order to keep chromatic harmony among colors, the amount of clay and pigmentation must vary;
-- Therefore while the Sargents do not break easily, they will require varying degrees of pressure to lay down the same depth of color among colors;
-- They take a bit longer and require more caution to sharpen than brands like Cra-Z-Art, Crayola, RoseArt or Mercur, which makes it all the more important they be sharpened by hand;
-- Like most colored pencils, they don't have their own erasers. I have found mine erase best from art paper with an ovoid PaperMate Black Pearl eraser, gentle pressure, and some patience -- there are probably other erasers out there that perform well too.
SUMMARY: Don't give these to young children unless this specific brand is specified and the pencils are to be used under close supervision. While these Sargents require a bit more finesse and patience to use, they are a joy for representing the colors one would want four-dozen-plus pencils to represent (and are free of non-naturally-existing tones like "neon" or cute-sounding but vague names like "Mauvelous"). For tweens and older, including adults, these are a great pencil to pick up and just have fun with. These are nonetheless colored pencils and cannot be expected to blend well with each other. To get started on a higher standard, learn color-blending techniques (which usually require a separate blending pencil), and go for a deliberate trainer set like Prismacolor's "Scholars." If you want to jump higher, straight into semi-pro and pro territory, there are plenty of lines -- Prismacolor Prime, Derwint, and Faber-Castell, among others -- but novices will probably find these "art sticks" in pencil form crumbly and frustrating to use. They also get used up much more quickly and cost a great deal more.
Sargent is an old American art-equipment house headquartered in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. The colored pencils themselves were manufactured in Thailand.