Last year I started on my journey with colored pencil with a little bit of experience, but most of all a thirst for wanting to learn everything I could about it. In one of the Facebook colored pencil groups I’m part of, I came across another artist that had posted about the Colored Pencil Painting Bible by Alyona Nickelsen. I had heard about this book in passing, but this time I decided to seek it out and own a copy. I’m usually a little leary about ordering art books sight unseen. Sometimes despite a great, inviting cover they can end up being not quite what I’m looking for. This book however did not disappoint. First of all if you aren’t familiar with Alyona’s work, that can be found on her website at: brushandpencil.com. She is quite skilled and talented with this medium so immediately I was ready to listen to whatever she had to say on the subject.
The book gives a great balance of written descriptive information as well and visual tutorials. Colored pencil is a medium where you can have different techniques and ways of achieving the same result. The visuals provide a great start, mid and finished image process without leaving out too much information as to how you get to the next step. I really like the comprehensiveness the book has without it being too much or boring. She describes essential materials, presentation materials, and elements of design, colour and lighting to consider when setting up a composition. You essentially get an art lesson in the beginning part of the book with is wonderful if you have never taken any formal art training, and a great review if you have.
The tutorials and techniques section feels well thought out and described. Most of these focus on still life subject matter and objects, which may seem dull if you want to jump into doing portraits, but provide great fundamental skills that you can later transfer to portrait work. The back section of the book includes a lightfast rating on a few popular colored pencil brands as well. This book was published in 2009, so take that into consideration as I understand that on occasion the lightfast ratings for some pencil brands have changed. Another thing I liked about this book was that once you get to the tutorials section that book lays open flat pretty well. This may seem like a weird thing to comment on, but much like cook books, it can be frustrating trying to hold open a book while trying to do what the book is showing you to do. (In a perfect world instruction books would all be coil bound…but the graphic designer in me just threw up a little for even thinking that.)
Overall, I would say if you are serious about colored pencil, this book is well worth having in your collection of art instruction materials. The foundation of skills you will learn from this well thought out book will be extremely valuable going forward in your work. Think as well, of all the time you will have saved using her techniques that took her hours if not years figuring out the hard way. Thank you for your generosity sharing your knowledge Alyona!
You can buy the Colored Pencil Painting Bible from:
or check with your local book store