Capturing Radiant Light & Color in oils and soft pastels, by Susan Sarback – a book review

Do you ever have a project that you just aren’t connecting with?  I’m feeling this with a new painting that I’ve been working on for the past several days, it’s just not working for me, so what better time than to do a new book review.

Color has always interested me and a couple of years ago I came across Susan Sarback, an impressionist artist whose style and use of color has made for some extraordinary – illuminating art.  I love her work.  She has dedicated her artistic life to understanding color and painting colors, through a process called “Full-Color Seeing.”  Ms. Sarback has gone to great lengths to learn as much as she could about producing color as she states in her book, “The concepts explored here have been handed down through generations of artists:  Sarback was taught “Full-Color Seeing” by master painter Henry Hensche, who learned it from Charles Hawthorne, a contemporary of Claude Monet.”

Ms. Sarback’s book is full of descriptions, demo-illustrations and samples of paintings (hers and other artists) that compliment the concepts explained throughout – it’s a workbook for me, I’ve highlighted and underscored all through the book and still visit it on occasion.

Susan Sarback is also the founder of The School of Light & Color.  This style of seeing and painting color is not for everyone, but for me the book introduced another way of discovering and painting color.   Every chapter is well-written and useful – very little fluff in this book, here are four chapters that are worth purchasing the book for and why am recommending it today:

  1. How to See in Full-Color, chapter two – Susan takes you through the process of seeing in full-color, preconceptions, moving beyond limits and finding color that is visually right in front of you.
  2. Seeing and Painting Radiant Color with Any Subject, chapter four – she takes you through her process of building a subject with color, using color to create light and cast shadows.
  3. Painting the Landscape with Full-Color, chapter five – Susan discusses composition, seeing patterns of light, how to unify a complex scene and paint strokes to create form and distance.
  4. Painting the Light Key:  The Many Qualities of Light, chapter six – she describes types of days from atmosphere to light effects, light throughout the day and learning how to paint light key and light key changes.

Here are two oil pastel paintings that I did as exercises from the book.

Bicycle Path, study from Susan Sarback's book

Bicycle Path, study from Susan Sarback’s book

Tree Study from Susan Sarback's book

Tree Study from Susan Sarback’s book

It’s not Traditionalist w/regard to color, but the book still holds true to basic concepts and principles of what constitutes good painting.  If you want to explore color as some masters have (like Claude Monet), you won’t be disappointed in Capturing Radiant Light & Color – I love this book.  Another staple in my library that I still refer too, as shown by the many underlines in my copy.

Susan Sarback’s book can be purchased through Amazon.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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14 Responses to Capturing Radiant Light & Color in oils and soft pastels, by Susan Sarback – a book review

  1. violetski says:

    Another beautiful works dear Mary!
    I really love the colors❤️

  2. An impressionist’s joy of light and color is evident in these two works. LOVE the violet tones. Beautiful.

  3. ladyfi says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. Gorgeous paintings!

  4. Madhu says:

    Truly beautiful Mary! Susan Sarback is new to me!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Madhu! Susan is a fabulous artist. What I admire about her is the tenacity she has shown for discovering color (colors) in light and shadows, and how to portray these colors on canvas.

  5. “Do you ever have a project that you just aren’t connecting with?”
    More than once, Mary, as I am reading your posts, I feel like visual artists and writers share the same challenges and moments of joy, too. Your first sentence illustrates my actual state of mind with one of my projects. So I like your approach which consists to focus on another artist’s work. Following your advice I wrote a book review for a blogger I met online. Susan’s book sounds like a good choice for an artist, by the way.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Evelyne – I too think there is a connection of sorts between artists and writers and the process we go through to develop a project. Susan’s book is a really excellent resource on seeing color differently and the influence of light in paintings.

  6. lulu says:

    With your talent, you don’t need much help!

  7. They are so beautiful, my dear Mary! 🙂

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