Improve your art by getting to know your materials and techniques. Find out what's in your favorite medium, all about the color red, make your own pastels.... check out this eclectic range of reference books for artists.
Ralph Mayer, revised by Stephen Sheehan. Viking Press (1991)The Artist's Handbook has been an essential on artist's shelves for years. One of the most useful books you could ever own, it covers every medium and support (ie. paper, canvas) and is loaded with practical information on their qualities and application.
Angela Gair, Chronicle Books 1996. Less technical than the Meyer handbook, this nicely designed book is a good resource, especially for the less experienced artist, with clear instructions and practical advice, as well as attractive illustrations.
3) Color: A Natural History Of the Palette
Victoria Finlay tells an engrossing story, blending her travels around the world in search of history with fascinating anecdotes about the origins of color, paint and pigment. Great bedtime reading for anyone interested in art.
4) Color Mixing Bible
Get a grip on the basics of color theory with Ian Sidaway's useful reference. Covers a range of painting media as well as pencil and pastel.
5) Making Art Safely: Alternative Materials and Methods
by Merle Spandorfer, Jack Snyder and Deborah Curtiss, pub Jon Wiley and Sons 1992. Identify current hazards in art including drawing, painting, printmaking, design and photography. Find out what you can do to minimise the risk, and the alternatives that are available to toxic pigments, dangerous dust and hazardous processes. We all need to take care of ourselves, but this is especially important reading for anyone working with children in art.