Colored Pencil Painting Portraits Book

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits Book

Christmas arrived early! The mail carrier delivered a box containing Alyona Nickelsnen’s Colored Pencil Painting Portraits book and several free samples!

If you’re looking for a way to treat yourself this Christmas, this may interest you.

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits Book

Alyona has published two books. The other is her Colored Pencil Painting Bible. Both are well-written and packed with information, and once I decided to buy one, it took a while to decide which one.

My choice might surprise you because I don’t do portraits of people. My favorite subjects are horses and other animals, and landscapes.

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits Book Cover

But I’ve been an artist long enough to know that sound art principles are sound art principles regardless of the subject. Whatever Alyona teaches about painting people also applies to the next horse, dog, cat or landscape I draw.

That wasn’t the only reason I chose this book, however.

The book comes with a collection of free samples. I ask you, how could I pass up free samples? Especially when some of them are on my art supply wish list?

And The Free Samples Are…

Colored Pencils

The package includes five pencils. In order of the illustration below:

Faber-Castell Polychromos (Crimson.) I already use and like these pencils, so the big surprise was the color.

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer (Purple Violet) is the artist grade watercolor companion line to the Polychromos pencils. I’ve had my eye on a set of these for a year or two, so I look forward to trying this pencil.

Caran d’Ache Pablo (Salmon) is a thinner, harder pencil than the popular Caran d’Ache Luminance. They are to Luminance what Prismacolor Verithin are to Prismacolor Premier pencils. I’ve heard artists say they hate them because they’re hard while other artists talk about how smoothly they layer over Pastelmat.

Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor (True Blue.) I have vague memories of having used Lyra pencils in the distant past. I know I had one of their Splender Blenders and loved it. These pencils are oil-based (as are the Polychromos,) so should be a good fit.

Caran d’Ache Supracolor II Soft (Salmon) is similar in appearance to the Pablos, but is a watercolor pencil.

Powder Blender & Titanium White

Two small packets with sponge applicators also accompanied the book and pencils. One is Colored Pencil Titanium White, the other is Colored Pencil Powder Blender.

As I write this post, I have a couple of portraits on Pastelmat on my easel, and I’m eager to see how the Powder Blender performs.

But reading time comes first. I need to see how these two excellent tools should be used before I start experimenting.

Especially since one of the portraits is paid for!

Powder Blender and Titanium White

If you’ve been following this blog for very long, I hope you’ve read some of Peggy Osborne’s excellent tutorials. My personal favorite is the rooster on black paper. Peggy uses Titanium White with Touch-Up Texture with tutorial.

So I’m eager to see how it works for me.

Lux Archival Paper

The sample I’m most interested in, however, is this one. Alyona’s Lux Archival paper.

Lux Archival Paper Sample

I’ve been using sanded art papers of one kind and another for years, beginning with Uart’s Premium Sanded art papers. It took a while to get used to the feel, but one I learned how to make the best use of them, they became favorites.

Since that sample pack from Uart, I’ve also tried Fisher 400, and Clairefontaine Pastelmat. Pastelmat is currently my preference.

Although no two brands of sanded art papers are identical, they do have two things in common.

First, the drawing surfaces are archival. They don’t fade, and they don’t get brittle or fragile with age.

Second, the substrates aren’t archival. Most of them are buffered, so whatever acids they might contain can’t easily reach the drawing surface.

Most of them are also moisture intolerant. You can use solvent on them, but they don’t play well with liquid mediums. Not even oil paints, which I have tried.

Lux Archival, on the other hand, is fully archival and acid-free, front and back. It’s also suitable for liquid mediums, as well as most traditional dry mediums. I read that to mean that I can use watercolor pencils on it as well as dry colored pencils!

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits Book

I’m planning a review of the Colored Pencil Painting Portraits book after I’ve read through it.

It’s also my plan to review the paper and products, possibly with a short tutorial. That sample paper is only 4×6 inches, after all. The perfect size for a quick landscape or tree study.

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you’re looking for something special for yourself, consider this book and accessories. You don’t have to be a portrait artist to make good use of it. At $25.99 plus shipping, you can hardly go wrong.


  1. Gail M Jones

    Hi Carrie, hope you have lots of fun with all the samples. I look forward to seeing anything you post about them after you have worked with them. They look awesome!
    I too will be trying out some new stuff after Christmas. (An Inktense set) and another CP class with Mindy Lighthipe at the end of Jan. Merry Christmas!

    1. Gail,

      I’ve already learned two things.

      First, it’s too late to use Alyona Nickelsen’s painting process with my current portrait. I’ll have to start a new project to try her method.

      Second, the powder blender does work! I’ve tried it on the portrait in progress and look forward to more work with it.

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