Is Practice Essential if You Want Your Coloring to Improve?

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

I guess by age, I would be classified as a late bloomer when it comes to coloring. If someone would have told me when I started coloring that the best thing I can do to improve would be to practice I think I would have given them the strangest stare. What do you mean one has to practice, at my age, it’s just coloring for goodness sakes. . . isn’t it?

Well, it turned out that I didn’t want to just color something real pretty, I wanted to color something that looks pretty “real”. And it’s true, coloring with realism is definitely something that requires practice. If for no other reason, I soon found out that there are many ways to color something and I was going to have to explore them to know what works best for me and my desired outcomes.

How do you know if you need to practice? I’ve got a little test just for you. It’s quick, just answer the following questions with a “yes” or “no”:

  1. Does your coloring ever leave you feeling frustrated?

  2. Has your coloring plateaued, everything looks the same?

  3. Are you not able to create a coloring project without a class sample or tutorial?

  4. Would you and your coloring benefit from being able to ask others for feedback or help out of an artistic dilemma?

  5. Do you lack confidence in your coloring abilities?

How did you do with these questions? Did you answer YES to any of these questions? You aren’t alone. I’m there with you. Though there was a day I would answer YES to all the above, today, I am happy to say that I would only reply YES to four out of these five questions. Amazing isn’t it? I bet you thought I was going to say that today I can answer NO to all of them as I’ve been practicing for some time now. But I’m right there with you, we both need to practice. Yes, practice does mean we do things over and over until we can replicate a technique. But you know what it doesn’t mean? It doesn’t mean just signing up for anther cool coloring class. You see it wasn’t until I finally decided to try to color something on my own from start to finish that I started to understand what it means to color. And in doing so, I learned exactly what I didn’t know. And that is how I learned that I needed to focus in on what I’m trying to learn or improve upon—one technique or subject at a time versus coloring from another amazing class or tutorial project.

Can you relate to any of this . . . you walk into a local art store and see a display advertising an upcoming coloring class (lucky you it’s today). The class sample is stunning, amazing in fact. You immediately register for the class, get a copy of the supply list and head up and down the aisles to gather the supplies. Be honest, you have no expectation of leaving the class with anything less than something that matches the class sample. If it’s a good teacher, chances are you will do just that. But can you do it again at home? Why not? Don’t remember all the steps? Did the teacher actually help you through the tough spots? Were you so focused on the finished project that you didn’t absorb the techniques it took to get you there? Will your new supplies sit untouched because you aren’t sure what to do with them on anything other than this project? Believe it or not, this is common.

That is why in the Practice Corner we focus on techniques instead of finished projects. We explore a topic (such as how to color hair) so that we understand what it takes to color it with realism. Then once we do, we put our knowledge through the paces by working on technical drills and coloring images so that we understand how to go from knowing what we’ve learned to actually coloring it with minimal, if any, instruction.

It was Frankie that got me to practice. But the funny thing is, she didn’t ask me to practice, she simply asked if I would color along with her. That was when I realized, I didn’t know how or where to start without a class or a tutorial. Nine months later we had become artists in our own right. The discoveries along the way were so exciting that we just wanted to share them with you. To do so we built a community of, and for, coloring artists (or artists in training like me) to practice coloring techniques while learning to color independently. I think the best part of our community is the interaction amongst the members. They support each other’s growth by giving and receiving feedback. The results of which are evident in the photos of work that is shared in the forums.

Practicing is not only more fun together but growth happens when we are encouraged to keep going and the world is just a more colorful place with our art in it. If you aren’t practicing ask yourself, “is my art improving”? If not, why not join us in the Practice Corner. Drills today, posts tomorrow . . . let’s start an artful conversation!

July 1st is just a few days away and when we turn the page on the calendar we will be changing the focus of our practice to Shadows. For many colorers, shadows put us into a state of fear. Our goal is to help you break free of that fear and hopefully you will look forward to adding shadows to your next coloring project.

P.S. Each time you pick up a marker, a pencil or a paintbrush and use it you are practicing. That is true even if you are taking a class or following a tutorial. So if you want to try your hand at a tutorial that includes shadows, I recommend this one from Vanilla Arts : Rustic Maple Leaf. If you are up for it, I would love to challenge you to color it today, then do it again in August to see how different it is once you have studied and practiced your shadows through the upcoming month.

Time for me to get back to my practice. My technical drills are calling me. It's never too late for you to overcome the fear of adding shadows to your coloring images. If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you will be able to find the Practice Technique Pack for Shadows here!

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