Updated: Oct 20, 2020
I have never had a desire to become an artist. After all, I have no official art training in my background, I can’t draw anything other than a stick figure, and let’s face it, there just isn’t time to go back to school now. That doesn’t stop me though from enjoying beautiful art and on occasion I might even get this strange feeling that I could try my hand at recreating something that has caught my eye. But that is normally a fleeting thought before I’m on to the next thing.
In all honesty, years ago I signed up for a community college class to learn to draw. I lasted for two classes. It made no sense, and I was terrible. I mean, there was no sign of brilliance even peeking through in just those 4 hours! Just a few years ago I took a drawing class with my sister at a local art gallery. Another failed attempt. The instructor should have indicated that some drawing experience was required. I lasted long enough there to know charcoal won’t ever be my thing. It was a very condensed class where if you didn’t get what we were doing this week, heaven help you next week. I packed my supplies up and sold my easel.
Then it happened. I woke up one morning and realized that I had been visited by a guardian art angel. I know, she’s kind of like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, you just have to believe! The visit happened somewhere between October of 2018 and July 2019. Thinking back now, with 20/20 hindsight, that angel visited me several times during that ten-month period. You see, I had found a new hobby in late 2016, coloring with Copic markers. I knew nothing about these markers, or coloring for that matter. So, after I located online classes to learn what to do I started coloring everything I could. It was amazing. These markers made me look like I knew what I was doing. I thought I knew what I was doing too.
Until . . . October 2018. That is when coloring friend asked if I would be her coloring buddy and commit to coloring together because she needed the motivation and accountability to get back to her coloring. Though we were physically 3000 miles apart, I said yes. With the internet we could do this. We agreed that we would color one project a week for the next year. And that is when my guardian art angel came and paid me my first visit. You see, I didn’t know what to color outside of a classroom setting or tutorial. I couldn’t tell that to my coloring buddy, I would be exposed as a coloring fraud! But that angel helped me get through this first project, from start to finish. I shocked myself that I was able to pull this off.
Over the next ten months, we composed and colored 53 projects each. The first project was undoubtedly the hardest, but the process got easier as our excitement to do the next challenge grew. We were both genuinely amazed by what we were accomplishing. When we started out, we were just coloring, spending time with markers, colored pencils and paper—trying hard to remember and employ all that we had learned. But things started to change. We started to realize that our casual coloring was morphing into a passion. The spark was lit. We flew through these projects and when we got to the end, we weren’t ready to stop.
We talked for hours about what we had been through and the discoveries we had made. Though we weren’t ready to admit it at the time, when we were coloring without instruction, we were becoming artists. Without guidance, we had to figure out every step of the process from idea to a finished drawing. And we did it. In the end, what we realized, what we were doing this entire time was practicing our art. When you don’t have a project or instruction to guide you, you focus on the task at hand and not the finished product. We gained so much from this experience; a) confidence, b) a coloring practice partner; and c) so many artful skills.
Practice doesn’t ever sound like something fun to do. Practice makes us think of drills, repetition, boring stuff. But let’s be honest, practice is where the growth happens. The proof comes the next time we produce a work of art. We also realized that we have taken a lot of classes over the years, but never had we been presented with a class on how to practice. In all honesty, who would want to do that?
But do you remember Study Hall in high school? That was the class you took so that you had an hour in your school day to get your homework done, freeing up some of your evening to do something you would rather be doing? That is what practice time is for. A few minutes a day studying a skill that you need to work on to improve your art, then you color with more confidence and perfected techniques.
I owe a lot to this thing we call coloring. Who knew it would go from a hobby to a great passion? I know that I will never know a fraction of what there is to know, but this passion for art will keep me busy with many challenges, triumphs, disappointments, and victories all along the way.
Before I start my next project, I'm off to practice my sketching techniques.
What are you going to practice?
What's happening in the Corner . . .
We are now focusing our attention on coloring eyes because it's amazing how something so small can add so much emotion or attention to the image you are coloring. Big or small, there are details that will help you color successful eyes every time.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Practice Technique Pack for Eyes here.
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