Lazy coloring habits and ways to overcome them . . .

Okay, I’ve been coloring for a few years now, taken countless classes, I’ve followed instruction (really well if I say so myself) and now I’m coloring on my own. Recently I started noticing that I’ve developed a few lazy coloring habits and that got me to wondering . . . do artists set New Year’s resolutions?

I haven’t set a New Year’s resolution in years. But here we are a third of the way through December, holiday music is on the radio, the Hallmark channel is back-to-back Christmas movies, holiday decorations are popping up all over the neighborhood, my husband is asking when the holiday baking will commence. You get the picture. This is the time of year that we slow down, think about life, which means I get a bit nostalgic. Then I shake that off so I can start getting my holiday chores done. Time to stop looking back and start looking forward.

While I was thinking back over this past year as it relates to my art, I started to think about how much things have changed for me since I started coloring on my own. This was my coloring process for years:

  • Enroll in a video based class

  • Gather (buy) everything on the class supply list

  • Work in a nice open/quiet space

  • Hit the play button

  • Watch and listen

  • Hit the pause button

  • Color . . . oops, what was that I was supposed to do

  • Hit Rewind

  • Hit the play button

  • Watch and listen

  • Hit the pause button

  • Color

  • Repeat until finished AND/OR

  • Purchase a written tutorial-based class

  • Gather (buy) everything on the class supply list

  • Work in a nice open/quiet space

  • Read the instruction

  • Look at the photos

  • Color

  • Go back, read the instructions

  • Look at the photos

  • Color

  • Repeat until finished

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I never focused as much on my coloring as I did the instructor or the instructions. It’s true, I never thought about how I was coloring, where I was coloring, I was just so excited to be coloring. So how is it different today you ask?

  • Gather what I think I might need for my project from whatever supplies I have on hand

  • Work in a space that is about 14” x 12”

  • Sketch my design

  • Color my design

  • Make necessary adjustments to my design

  • Share my design

  • Look for inspiration for the next design

Did you notice the differences between coloring by class versus coloring on my own?

Change 1: I don’t have any instructions.

Lesson 1: I don’t need to have a class or tutorial to color. I’ve learned that I can come up with an idea and develop it into a project that I can color.

Change 2: I don’t have a supply list for my projects.

Lesson 2: I didn’t die because I didn’t have a supply list. Goodness knows I am not short on coloring supplies, so I simply start my project with what I have here. This has forced me to start using my supplies. When going from class to class, I would live and die by the supply list. Oh my, how could I possibly color if I didn’t have this or that that the instructor has called for? But now, in most cases, I can achieve the results I’m looking for within the supplies I have. If not, what I need is usually just a click away.

Change 3: I don’t have a nice quiet space to work in.

Lesson 3: This might be the biggest change in my coloring process. When I started coloring my husband was working offshore (work two weeks/home two weeks), that meant that I had both the time and quiet environment in which to work. I must say I didn’t know how key the “quiet” component was. Fast forward, I become an independent artist and he is now retired. For some reason there is not much quiet time to color. So now I color with distractions of background noises from music, television, or just random conversations within a now shared creative space.

Change 4: Without the guidance of an instructor, I seem to have picked up some lazy habits.

Lesson 4: If I recognize lazy habits developing in my coloring process I have the wisdom to correct them. Now I bet you are wondering, is she going to tell me what she needs to change? Of course.

Where to start? How about the fact that I will color right on my desk? I know, I know, I know. If the texture in the paper weren’t hard enough to deal with the wood grain (and the seams between the planks) are a real detriment to smooth coloring. Cure: If nothing else, grab my clipboard!

Then there’s this, picking up an eraser without laying down my graphite or colored pencil first. I cannot tell you how many times I pick up a darn eraser with my drawing pencil still in my hand. I erase just to realize that I used the pencil instead of the eraser (i.e., Mono Zero). If that weren’t bad enough, I probably used too much pressure as I normally apply more pressure to my erasing than to my coloring. Now I have a bigger mess. Cure: put down the graphite or colored pencil from my dominate hand BEFORE I pick up the eraser!

I can’t believe I now do this; I sharpen my pencil when I think it’s dull. That doesn’t sound like a lazy habit, but it is, and it means my pencils don’t last as long as they should. Cure: I need to consciously twist my colored pencil while coloring to reduce the frequency of sharpening. I actually like hexagon shaped pencils (i.e., Pablo by Caran d’Ache or Koh I Nor) because I can tell that I’m twisting them and by how much versus twisting (or think I am) a round pencil such as my Prismacolor pencils.

And the last one I’ll admit to today, I can still color a project from start to finish without stepping back and looking at it objectively while I color. Cure: Check its values along the way. I always do this at the end but doing it while in progress helps keep me going in the desired direction. So I need to photo my project more often (at multiple stages), and check the values, then adjust as I go instead of just at the end.

So going back to that question I started with, should I break my pattern and set New Year’s resolutions to break these lazy coloring habits? We both know I should!

To those of you celebrating Hanukkah this week, may your candles shed warm light. To those getting ready for Christmas, may your lights be bright too.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Has colder weather arrived where you live? Do you find yourself inside trying to stay warm? Why not pick up some knitting needles and start knitting a warm scarf. Hey, hold the presses, we don't knit here in the Corner, we color! So join us this month as we pick up our markers, colored pencils, and/or watercolors and learn to create a knit texture on paper!

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Texture:Knit here.

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