My mother is a fine artist, and she has always advised me to buy quality supplies. I went cheap, however, on my first set of colored pencils, my reasoning being that I'm not an artist so what possible difference could it make.
Always listen to your mother.
I ditched the cheap pencils, bought Prismas, and never looked back. Prismas lay down pigment smoothly and have wonderful, rich colors.
I've never used odorless mineral spirits to blend prismas, but that's because I've gotten perfectly statisfactory results from using the Prisma Colorless Blender Pencil. It's a delightfully unmessy, uncomplicated way to blend colors.
Here's the case that holds all my colored pencils, which I bought at Cheap Joe's. It holds 72 pencils. I have a few more than 72, so it's literally bulging with the extras.
My favorite thing to do with colored pencils is to add shading to block stamps that might not take a rock-and-roll technique well. It's a whole lot easier than coloring in outline images and really adds a lot to otherwise flat images. Not that I have anything against flat images. I'm rather fond of their clean and graphic look. But sometimes you just want a little illusion of dimension. Pencils are helpful for this.
These little fish from Papertrey's Pond Life set are a good example. I tried R&R with them and the results were...unpleasant. So I stamped them in solid VersaColor opera pink, let it dry completely, and pulled out my pencils. Using a darker shade of pink pencil than the ink, I added color to the undersides of the fish using small circular strokes, pressing the pencil harder closer to the edge and lighter toward the center of the fish. My first pass wasn't quite dark enough, so I went back over them a second time. Then, I used the blender pencil to smooth out the border between the two, again using small circular strokes.
The pencil adds just a bit of interest to the fish, and a spot of Stardust pen on the eyes gives a little bling to an otherwise super-simple card.
stamps: PTI Pond Life, Pond Life Sentiments
ink: Palette noir, Versacolor opera pink
paper: SU pretty in pink, white
accessories: Prisma colored pencil, dimensionals, Sakura Stardust clear pen, Fiskars wave border punch