Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Coloring an image is fun and relaxing experience. I would bet that is the main reason there are many people who love to color and jumped on the adult coloring train. All of us remember coloring when we were young and in school. The process of staying in the lines and using pretty colors to color pretty things. Picking up a marker or colored pencil, or even watercolor today, to color something brings back pleasant memories that keep us entertained for a long time. When you color image after image after image as an adult we start to become critical of our work and want our coloring to look significantly better than when we were kids.
You know what I am going to say here, the only way to get better is through practice. I have said it many times before - many people think they are not talented like the amazing artists they see on social media, but the secret is the amazing artists practice. They have thousands of hours of coloring under their belt and practiced specific techniques to improve their skills. I know thousands of hours sounds daunting and you may believe that is the reason you will never color better—because who has thousands of hours to dedicate to coloring. I understand that feeling because I have a full time job with very little personal time to dedicate to coloring. Yet, I have a great need to color everyday to get better at it. I do feel like I am an undercover artist wearing business woman clothing. LOL. There are a few things I have found that have really helped me that I want to share with you.
Practicing was like a chore to me, you know something you have to do but would rather just get to the good stuff. I used to take piano lessons when I was young and I remember my teacher making me do finger drills at the beginning of my practice session. These finger drills were boring and irritating to me because I just wanted to play the fun songs I learned and not waste more time on these drills. Many many many years later, I now understand why that practice was so important. The drills ingrained in my head the scale while memorizing each note. Most importantly the drills built my confidence in hitting each note, so when I did play my fun songs I could do so easier and without frustration of missing a note or not striking the note with the right amount of pressure. I apply that logic now to my coloring. Why would I need to practice coloring that is a simple process of putting marker to paper - all you need to know is what color to put on the paper - right? What I have learned is that statement is far from reality. Coloring is not only about picking the right colors it is also about building your confidence in blending the colors, your strokes, your ability to use different techniques, etc. Something as simple as practicing your strokes will make a significant difference in your coloring.
When I decided I was going to find time to practice each day, I put together a plan to work on something specific for a week at a time. Let's take strokes for example. I would take time everyday just to practice different types of strokes. At first I still saw this as a chore and would run out of time to complete this plan each day. When I really thought about it I decided I needed to figure out how to do this in the middle of my day instead of the end of the day. Practicing strokes is simply grabbing a scratch piece of paper and making lines on it. I am on the phone a good portion of my day. I typically doodle when I am on the phone so I decided to change that to my practice time of making good line strokes. This was fun because I had these scratch papers on my desk and I could see the improvement each day of my strokes. This turned into a “5 minute” thing for me. When I realized it only took me 5 minutes to practice this I found myself repeating this practice in multiple 5 minutes here and there. I don’t know why, but my brain liked the idea of only doing 5 minute chores so I could spend 5 minutes and cross something off the list today. The best thing about it is that at the end of the week I had lots of scratch papers of practice where I could could watch my progress. Surprisingly, the next project that I worked on over the weekend was so much easier to deal with. My marker strokes were so smooth and even. I had to do less corrections or over blending to get the color even. I cannot believe the 5 minutes a day not only saved me time on my next project but also gave me a huge boost of confidence that I am better at coloring than I thought I was.
I never thought those 5 minutes each day would have such a HUGE impact on my work. Now, I cannot do without my 5 minutes a day working on a coloring technique. I encourage you to try the same thing. You don’t need a fancy lesson book to practice in, just grab any piece of paper and do the following:
- make three 2" x2" squares (these squares do not need to be perfect - remember this is practice)
- fill your first square with your strokes
- look at how you did on that first square, ask yourself what needs to be better
- use what you learned from the first square and apply that when you fill in the second square - then ask yourself again, what needs to be better
- use what you figured out from the second square to fill in the third square.
The squares are small enough that it doesn't take but a minute or so to do each one, but you are able to focus your attention to just the one technique. You are not trying to practice on a big image or in the middle of one of your projects. This is simply taking 5 minutes to focus on one thing that will build your skill and your confidence. I am positive these 5 minutes will be the most valuable 5 minutes for your coloring life.
Here's what we're practicing
now in the Corner . . .
If you want to learn more about illustrating glass and how to practice these elements to create beautiful glass come hang out with us in the Practice Corner for the month of June as we guide you though practicing this technique.
If you are reading this after June, don’t despair, you can still explore and practice creating glass with realism by purchasing the "Glass" Technique Practice Pack here!
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