Colored Pencil Painting Portraits

There is absolutely no denying Alyona Nickelsen’s talent and skill. The drawings – or colored pencil paintings – shown in this book are gorgeous in their photo–realism… my only complaint, I think, is a bit of spot–blindness in some facial expressions. I used to draw, all the time, and always found it both fascinating and frustrating how hugely a single line could affect an expression; I remember spending a very long time on one drawing, and found it amazing how, without ever touching the mouth, I could create the impression of a smile by darkening a line of the eye. Erase that back a bit, and the smile faded. There’s a reason most of the portraits you’re going to see in museums or art books are of solemn sitters, or Mona Lisa smiles: a big toothy grin is very hard to pull off without straying into goofy territory. Teeth are hard.

I’m not sure it’s entirely fair for someone as talented as Ms. Nickelsen to put out a how-to book. The odds against reaching anything remotely close to her level is so remote that it’s almost a book full of fail. But if you go into this with the expectation of learning tips and tricks and tools and techniques (phew, didn’t think I’d get the full alliteration out of that), and of being better than you were before you read it – then you can’t fail. And of course there’s the option of just paging through the incredible artwork on every page and admiring its evolution. Either way, this is highly recommended.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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