I bought a really nice set of oil pencils. 120 pencils with all the right colors including a phenomenal range of greens, blues, reds, browns from very dark to very light. I got them a few days ago, but didn’t open them until today. I needed a holder for them. I can’t deal with those flat plastic trays. The Duke jumps up, knocks one of those flat trays over and all the pencils go flying. On the floor, under the sofa, in the sofa. A few never appear. They are hiding.

The box is solid black with hinges. A very nice box. Too nice to throw away.

These pencils were remarkably inexpensive, so I figured there had to be a catch. I knew they were made in China because they said so and half the ad for them was in Chinese. No matter. China had an art industry – a huge one – when many of our ancestors didn’t know how to light a fire.

I opened the case today and put all the pencils in a case. The pencils were exactly as advertised. Each pencil was numbered which should make blending colors easy.

There’s just one minor catch.

The colors written on the pencils are in Chinese. Only. There a number plus a block of Chinese characters. So it’s eyeballs all the way. It’s hard to complain since the set was not expensive and to the extent I’ve used them — a little bit — they seem pretty good. When I was looking up reviews on this set, someone asked if the name of the color was on the pencil and the answer was “Yes!”

Got a really nice case for them too.

What they failed to mention was that the names are on the pencils, but only in Chinese. The person should have asked if they were on the pencils in English. As for me? I figured there had to be a reason why a set of oil pencils of this size would be this inexpensive. If the only problem I have is the lack of English names for the colors, I’ll be fine. I just need to keep a piece of paper handy to make sure the color I’m using is the color I think I’m using. Even when they write the color name on the pencil, it doesn’t necessarily tell you much. I’ve found pencils titled “dark green” they were really some kind of dark blue. A lot of “color names” assume the we know what color jade the green pencil is supposed to be, except that jade cames in many colors including yellow and dark red brown. The names aren’t necessarily accurate.

I knew there had to be a catch. It turned out to be — in my opinion, anyway — a small one. Maybe I’ll learn to read Chinese. Is it Mandarin or Cantonese?

Categories: Anecdote, Arts, Drawings, Humor

Tags: , , , ,

23 replies

  1. I guess this would be a good excuse to learn Chinese


    • Actually, my second opportunity. The first time was when I was collecting antique Chinese porcelain and all the books about it are written in Chinese. Almost everyone who was serious about collecting learned at least enough Chinese to read the reference books. I couldn’t afford any more pottery anyway, so I moved on. So this is round two, but I think I’ll pass — again. I’m not good at other languages. I never was. I’ll just go with making a mark on a paper. I think it will do it.


  2. Great post! The pencils and box are heaven to me, who only had the 16 color box of Crayola Crayons as a child. How are your eyes in terms of cataracts? Having cataract surgery almost always results in changes in perception of colors. That’s because the cataract itself is yellow-ish. When I had my first eye done last year, there was an immediate change in Blue. After the second, Greens were noticeably different. Another blogger acquaintance also noticed Blue changes for one and for the second? Lavenders, violets! Makes me wonder which is the real reality of colors.


    • Everyone but me in my age group has had cataracts and surgery, including Garry who had his quite early. Everyone loved the results. For some reason at age 75, I don’t have cataracts. I go for a big eye exam every year because I have very dry eyes and had some corrective surgery on my eyelids when I was 60. I was actually looking forward to not needing to wear glasses anymore, but I don’t have cataracts. With all the other medical issues I’ve got, why can’t I have the ONE thing that would give me something I actually want — NO glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 10 and I thought it would be great to finally not need them.

      Nope. Eye doctor says I’ve got perfect vision — with glasses. Drat.

      Garry didn’t have color changes but just a general dulling of vision and the feeling that his eyes needed cleaning. Everyone who has had the surgery loved the results. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a few small sets of color pencils and color pens. I don’t use them often enough… And I don’t think I have once looked at the names of the colors on the pencils. I don’t care what they are called, I care how it looks on paper.
    Anyway, have fun with the oil pencils!


    • The oils seem to shed less than the wax ones. They don’t cover as much (or as thoroughly) and the paper seems to suck up more of the color, but at least I don’t have color grit everywhere. Looking at the color names has been very deceiving, so even now, no matter what it says, I check to see if the color is what it seems to be. Sometimes, it is kind of random — a green wood pencil with a blue color in it. I always wonder if it’s an accident or someone can’t tell the difference. Color blind people in a colored pencil factory?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks a great set.
    Think of the Chinese characters as a chance to learn a bit of Chinese.
    As for can’t get rid of the box because it’s well, a good box. That is just a symptom of being an adult. Bet you have a really great collection of cardboard boxes you can’t get rid of as well!


    • I do have a problem with nice boxes. Coffee cans too. I LOVE coffee cans. I used to keep screws and nails and stuff in them, but now, they kind of linger around until I realize they are just taking up space and finally, with a sigh, ditch them. But a beautiful black metal box WITH HINGES? Who knows what miracle could live inside it?


  5. That is a minor hitch. I guess you’ll have to make up your own system for identifying the colours as you go.


    • Eyes. And a piece of paper because every once in a while, the barrel of the pencil is one color, but the color is entirely different. Especially with yellows and reds — the pencil shaft may or may not have much to do with the actual color. But really, this is, for the price, a really nice set and it has a lot of colors. Are they GREAT pencils? Probably not. The really great sets are wildly expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Naomi tells me the same. She buys a brand of art materials called Monte Marte which she says are student level because she can’t really afford to buy the really good stuff. When we finally get all the boxes out of the room she wants to use for arts and crafts she’ll probably do more painting and drawing and may have an occasional splurge.


  6. I think you still got a good bargain


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