Updated: Oct 20, 2020
The more I explore about this art form of coloring I find myself asking just how I should explain what my art form is. Is it coloring, is it drawing, is it painting or something else?
When I started down this art path I thought what I was doing was considered coloring with colored pencils but now as I’m learning to sketch it seems to be referred to as drawing. But if I take what I sketch and then apply watercolor it becomes a painting. So, can you see why when someone asks what I do I'm not really sure what to say, color, draw or paint?
Just this week I finished a class that taught me to "paint" with colored pencils!
The truth is I can call my creations by any of the above and it will be correct. But call my self an artist . . . well, not so fast there. When someone says to me “wow, I didn’t know you were an artist”! I usually say something like, "because I'm not". It's been a struggle for me to gain the confidence to finally allow myself to wear that label.
I know I’ve mentioned in the past that it’s getting easier for me to call myself an artist because some of the barriers in my way have faded. I think the biggest barrier was removed when I finally knew that I could come up with an idea for a project, turn it into an image and color it realistically. But there was still something that bothered me. It was knowing that each project almost seems as though it is my first. I mean, if I were an artist that just wouldn’t be true . . . or would it?!
Do you recognize any of these art related anxiety symptoms?
• Fear of starting a project - even if it looks like it’s the best ever
• If following a tutorial, why isn’t my project looking like the class sample
• If doing an independent project, where to start
• Hitting the colorers’ wall—the ugly phase (oh dear this just isn’t going to work)
• Just give up, why did I think I was good enough to do this anyway
• Finally finished, but looking back, there are so many things that are just wrong
What would you say if the above happens to those we considered real “artists” too? It’s true. We all have artists whose work captures our attention and chances are they have a blog, or some sort of social media posts. Read them carefully and I bet you will find that they struggle with many of the same things we do. Let’s look at each of these symptoms.
Fear of starting a project
For me to hear that a professional artist that I admire greatly often gets anxiety before starting a project was liberating to me. I am sorry for her, but I did mental cartwheels (because I can’t do them any other way) when I found out that it wasn’t happening to me just because I am not an artist.
When following a tutorial, why isn’t my project looking like the class sample?
I have also come to understand that my class project cannot look like the class sample until I’m done. So, when I am applying my first few layers, I’m no longer expecting it to resemble the finished project. That is a skill that I continue to work on as I develop but I now know, just like trained artists do, that it takes time to build to my final vision.
If doing an independent project, where to start
I have heard others ask how to know where to start a project. Well, there is no definite answer, as every project is different. Sometimes there might be a logical reason to start in a specific spot and others will not matter. More important then knowing where to start is simply that I do start. However, the more I color, the more I have learned for myself where I should start. Professional artists don’t necessarily have a clear starting point for every project either. In the end, if the finished project is what you were aiming for, does it really matter? Nope.
Hitting the colorers’ wall—the ugly phase
You might want to sit down for this one. But every project has an ugly phase, even those done by your most admired artist. That is right. The difference between a crafter and an artist, the artist doesn’t throw their project away and say it was a fail. Nope, they know that they are building up to the final image and they keep going. They understand that there are phases in the process that are not so pretty (something I really did have to learn for myself).
Just give up, why did I think I was good enough to do this anyway
How many times have you started a project and it just fights you? You might even be thankful that you are working on this project in the privacy of your own home so that no one has any idea how bad your coloring is now. Eventually, it’s just too much and you tell yourself that you aren’t good enough to do this and throw it away. Well, guess what, that happens to everyone, even the artist. The difference is the artist didn’t give up. The artist worked through the problems to find a solution.
Finally finished, but looking back, there are so many things that are just wrong
Then if finally happens, we finish a project. Oh no, when you proudly share it with others, someone points out this might be off, or what about that and now you see something you totally left off. How can this happen? The bottom line it, it’s natural, it happens to everyone. Yep, even that artist you admire most. The artist knows that it’s not a fatal flaw, it’s an opportunity to just go back and fix it.
You know what I’ve learned in all this. As much as I thought it to be so true, (what I considered a real) artists don’t always get it right the first time or every time. They are human just like you and me. So, there goes more of my barrier that has been stopping me from calling myself an artist. You see I just figured out that perfection in my art skills, or my artwork is not a requirement to be an artist. Who knows, maybe the biggest difference between me and an artist is simply time, as most the artists that I follow have more than 20 years in the profession.
Knowing that, I need to keep practicing daily and see where I am in 17 more years when I have accumulated 20 years of art experience. Oh, yes, it’s true, it might have been better to have started this when I was in my teens, instead of my 60s, but you know it really is true, it’s never too late to explore your passion. Don’t let age or perfectionism stop you.
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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