Sunday, January 23, 2011

Masterful Color

As I’m sure all of you do, I collect art instruction books. I’m always looking for that new and unthought-of tidbit that will make my technique jump up to a new level. Today I found such a book. It’s called Masterful Color by Arlene Steinberg.

The author is interested in creating colored pencil pieces that look like Old Master’s works, her subjects being mainly still lifes. She has created a very workable approach to producing rich and vibrant pieces with Prismacolor pencils that look amazingly like oil paintings.

The richness Arlene achieves is due in part to her system of grayed complements for under paintings. She has a most wonderful chart in the book outlining which grayed complements will add richness to specific top colors. That in itself is worth the price of the book to me. Beyond that were many other useful tips including easy to understand pressure and stroke charts, pin holing through a piece of paper to check for local value and color, and ways of burnishing and fixing the final layers help create paintings of incredible smoothness.

What a winner! I am looking forward to integrating many of her techniques into the colored pencils pieces I’m about to start. Masterful Color seems most useful for people already using colored pencils, certainly intermediate and professional colored pencil artists. It could also be used by a beginner, but they might find it a bit overwhelming.


  1. Hi Sara, Interesting review. I was wondering about Arlene's book; I've always admired her work.

  2. Thanks Peggy. :-) It was an exciting book that suited my style and my colored pencil goals really well. If you check it out let me know what you think. :-)