This past Summer, DixonTiconderoga Company contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of their products. I’ve never known any Art teacher to turn away free products, and I am no different. They sent me a generous box full of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils and, Prang colored pencils (Dixon Ticonderoga is their parent brand).
Honestly, I cannot tell the difference between Dixon Ticonderoga pencils and any other brand. As a middle school Art teacher, any “Number 2” pencil is equal to any other “Number 2” pencil; if it makes a good mark, then it is a good pencil. And, Dixon Ticonderoga pencils make a good mark; they are a good product.
But, let’s talk about Prang. Prior to Dixon Ticonderoga contacting me, I bought a class set of Prang colored pencils for my 8th grade students. I have used Prang colored pencils in the past, and was impressed with their quality. It is important to me my oldest (and most advanced) students have an opportunity to work with quality products. In my fantasy middle school classroom, I would love to have a class set of Prismacolor colored pencils. . .But, that is as unrealistic as it is expensive! I decided to add the Prang colored pencils Dixon Ticonderoga sent me with my class set, and allow my 8th graders to use and review the products.
Below is the work they created whilst reviewing the products. I will go over the lesson, and then include their reviews of the products at the end of the post.
Pop Art Candy Wrappers
-Six, 45-minute sessions
You will need:
-black construction paper (18” x 24”)
-color print-outs of candy wrappers and/or candy wrappers
A note about black paper: In my Art room, we use as much black paper as we do white paper. I like for students to work on black paper because it forces them to fully cover the paper with color in order to achieve the desired effect. The final works are higher quality. It also inadvertently teaches students how to build up color and blend. ;)
1. I went to Mike’s Candy Wrapper website, and saved a few images. I cropped the images down into interesting compositions (you could extend this project, and teach a mini-lesson on composition by having students crop their own work in the computer lab). I printed 12 color pages of small images.
2. Students watched the following video about Pop Art, participated in a PowerPoint presentation about Pop Art, and completed a quiz about Pop Art.
3. Students selected a candy wrapper print out.
4. Students practiced drawing their print-out (and some chose to exchange for another image etc.).
5. Students re-drew their sketch onto 18” x 24” black construction paper.
6. Students colored their work.(some students cut their paper down slightly to accommodate a square composition).
I was genuinely surprised at how “in” to this project my students were. I thought they might, at first, have issues with drawing the candy wrappers accurately and/or have issues with scaling. I was prepared to offer the “grid system” for those who struggled. It turned out to be unnecessary. The students had a high-level of buy-in, and it was very important to them their work look accurate. I expected them to default to the colors presented by the colored pencil options instead of attempting to color-match the candy wrappers. However, students actively queried how to blend colored pencils to achieve desired colors and effects. I was SO, SO, SO impressed with their level of engagement, interest, and commitment to this project.
It is definitely one I plan to teach again and again.
Previously, my students have exclusively used Crayola colored pencils for their projects. I think Crayola colored pencils are a good product for beginner and beginner-intermediate students. Prang colored pencils seem to have a higher pigment to oil ratio than Crayola colored pencils. I noticed that your get a creamier, bolder, color with Prang colored pencils.
I told my students to try the Prang colored pencils, and if they didn’t like them, to use the Crayola pencils. They noticed the difference immediately, and not a single student deigned to use Crayola colored pencils. In fact, we nearly ran out of Prang white colored pencils, and I offered students the Crayola white colored pencils (we used one class set of Prang colored pencils for 71 artworks on 18” x 24” paper). Initially, the students were willing to try the Crayola white colored pencils, but they instantly refused them when they noticed, “They aren’t as bright as the other ones, Ms. Z.!”
As you can see in the picture below, the students were really committed to finishing the proj
ect using only the Prang colored pencils.
Here are a few comments my students made about the Prang colored pencils:
“The colors are better.”
“I like how much deeper the colors look.”
“It is easier to blend these colored pencils [Prang] than the other ones [Crayola].”
“Oooh! These colored pencils are tight. I’m gonna get me some.”
“Where can I buy these colored pencils?”
Ultimately, I believe Prang colored pencils are a wonderful product for the intermediate artist. As you can see in the artworks my students made, you get a really rich application of color that enhances the final outcomes. I’ll be purchasing another class set ASAP.
I have not received any compensation for this post beyond the supplies provided to me for review by the Dixon Ticonderoga Company. The opinions are honest and reflect my (and my students') experience with the products.