Creating Coloring Habits Will Improve Your Coloring
Updated: Oct 9
As I sit and ponder this morning, I am wondering how many of you still add a double space after a period when you type? Don’t be bashful. Don’t be ashamed. I still do it. I think about not doing it, but it never fails, my fingers just do it for me. Back in the ____’s (you fill in the blank) we could elect to take typing classes. I did that. I excelled. I learned to type without looking at my keyboard and to add my punctuation spacing without giving it any thought. Clearly I loved typing. So much so, that after I got my first paycheck, my first major purchase was a Smith Corona semi-automatic typewriter. As the years went by, I pined for the fully automatic IBM Selectric typewriter. Then it happened . . . the typewriter was being replaced by this thing called a computer. But you know what, I moved right on over because my typing skills worked on that new keyboard too. I wasn’t afraid, it was clear to me I was going to make this transition without any trouble.
Ok, ok . . . I know you are wondering what the heck is she going on about here. It’s about habits. Typing habits or coloring habits, they are all habits. Some good and some not so good. Back in the day, “experts” would tell us that if we did something 21 times we would establish a new habit. Amazingly, it didn’t work that way for me. Recently, I checked to see if that was still what was being touted and I was disappointed to read it’s now being quoted as 66 times—more for some of us. That’s a lot! How could someone as lazy as me stick to something difficult (if it were so easy I would already be doing it) through 66 repetitions or 66 days in a row? Is there really magic in that 66 number? I don’t know. But what I do know, if there is something I really want to accomplish and I consciously
concentrate on what I’m trying to learn or change, I can do it ... and keep doing it.
I’ve already admitted that I like to type. I like it so much I type every day, without even giving it a thought. I bet you do too. After all, it’s hard to communicate today without typing texts or emails. Every time we type, conscious or not, we’re practicing our typing. I happen to do it unconsciously which is why that darn double space still happens. But after all these years of practice, I’m pretty darn quick and accurate.
When it comes to my creative side, I really like to color. I like it so much that I try to color something every day. It could be coloring a beautiful image, or doing colored pencil pressure drills on an envelope while sitting on hold waiting for the next available operator to come on the line. Unlike my typing, my coloring can not be done unconsciously as I haven’t been doing it for as many years. There is so much more to learn about coloring that I had ever imagined. I was enjoying coloring so much that after a few years I had become the ultimate professional coloring student, going from class to class. I thought I was learning to color, but it turned out I was learning how to emulate my instructor. You know when I realized that? When I ventured out to color on my own. I felt like a fish out of water. I had no idea where to start without someone telling me what to do. I hadn’t developed any coloring habits that I could fall back on to figure this out.
There was so much I had to work through, starting with where to start. You know what got me going? The same thing that gets me going in my non-coloring life . . . a deadline! At some point I had to just take a deep breath and put something on this blank sheet of paper. What I didn’t realize was that I had started long before I took that breath. From the time I determined what I was going to color I spent days thinking (with great fear I may add) about how the heck do I do this. All those thoughts ultimately lead to the paper I chose, the Copic markers and colored pencils I would start with and a plan of what to color first.
This was such an eye-opener for me. It never dawned on me that any of my instructors had taken a great deal of time
to do all that thinking I had just described
above in order to teach the classes I took from them. After all, I never would have even thought to question the instructor’s choices or abilities. Come on, we all know that the instructor always pick the right tools, the right colors and everything they touch becomes magic on their paper. I just assumed that they are so talented that they don’t have to think about any of this, it just flows from them naturally because they are incredible artists!
I now know artists/instructors don’t have magic markers or pencils. They have good coloring habits. They look for photo references for their projects, they swatch colors, they test their coloring assumptions, they start over sometimes. These are just a few of the coloring habits that I’m trying to hone now. With each project I create I know that I have to think my way through with deliberate thoughts. I must stay focused until my design decisions are made. When I start to color, I switch my focus to the coloring techniques I’m going to use in the image. It’s only when I’m done I sit back and enjoy what I’ve done. You see with each project I create, I’m actually practicing! And with each of these skills that are becoming habits my coloring outcomes improve.
So, please leave me a comment below because I'm dying to know two things;
1) do you double space after typing a period? and,
2) have you started creating your own coloring projects from start to finish?
If so, were you amazed to realize how much thought and preparation work went into that last coloring workshop you took before you arrived for class?
You can see my coloring projects and follow me on Instagram.