Updated: Oct 20, 2020
I am not one that can tell you that I have been coloring since kindergarten. I have vague and very few memories of having a coloring book and a box of crayons. It wasn’t something that I stuck with so when the adult color craze hit, I didn’t understand how it took off. I mean, I can remember sitting with one of my nieces as she colored and it might have made me pick up a crayon or two, but it didn’t trigger any coloring desires.
I admired rubber stamp art. I even tried a handful of classes, but I could never make my projects look like the instructors. Getting the perfect stamped image on the paper was always a challenge. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I learned that the ability to color and shade totally eluded me. I determined that not being an artist was my problem and quickly moved on to find a new craft I might be good at.
Overtime I was encouraged to purchase Copic markers—ok, it was a little more forceful than that. I was told that I couldn’t live without them there were so many things I could do with them that I would just fall in love if I gave them a try. It was late 2016 when I finally gave in and purchased my first markers. I consider that the start of my coloring expedition and because I’ve only been at this for a few years I can still trace the timeline of my coloring progression.
2016: Coerced into Buying Copic Markers
I started to research how to use the markers, that led to taking official Copic certification classes - thought I could color at this point which led to my enrolling in the online Marker Painting Foundations class at Vanilla Arts - quickly learned that I didn’t know how to color—turns out there was so much more to coloring than buying Copic markers.
2017: Enrolled in On-line Coloring Classes
I purchased as many online classes as I could. Did them all. Always waiting with anxious anticipation for the next one.
2018: Enrolled in Live Coloring Classes
I attended a few coloring retreats where I learned that supplementing online classes with in-person learning was invaluable. The thought of attending live classes was very intimidating, but it turned out that it was fun and inspiring to be working alongside others as enthusiastic about coloring as I am.
2019: Found a Coloring Practice Partner (or she found me)
Partnered with a fellow colorer to help her be accountable to getting back to coloring. Completed my first coloring project without a class or tutorial. Late in the year was referred to as an artist for the first time.
2020: Sharing the Joy of Artistic Discovery with Others
January, with the same partner (Frankie), opened the Practice Corner to help others experience the joy of coloring. March, the pandemic leads to nationwide stay-at-home orders, thank goodness I have my practice routine to help keep me grounded.
2021 and beyond: Can’t wait to see what develops . . .
So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know if you are frustrated with your coloring, I know what you are feeling. I never dreamt that one day someone would look at one of my projects and say something like, “wow, you are so talented” or “you clearly are an artist” or even “I couldn’t color anything like you because I’m not an artist”. Unbelievably, today that does happen.
I still have a hard time calling myself an artist. However, I’m working on it because I do fit the description that I find when I look up the definition of artist online. The first explanation of artist is listed as “a person who produces paintings as a profession or a hobby”. It’s clearly become my hobby! But it wasn't until I learned that I could come up with an idea, turn it into a digital image and color it, did I start to feel like I could call myself an artist.
There was no magic for me to become the artist I am today. The way it happened was simply by coloring with a purpose. I had to tell myself that it didn’t matter what I created in the privacy of my own home. There would be no judgement. My progress continues to be built on the result of a lot of trial and error . . . and error. It is true, some of those “errors” really turn out to be my best works of art.
Remember I said that I partnered with a coloring buddy in 2019? When she asked me to color with her neither of us knew that we didn’t know how to color something outside of a class or tutorial. From the minute we decided what we would color, we both looked at our respective blank sheet of paper and said, “now what”.
We soon discovered, that while we thought we were coloring due to the commitment to each other, we were simply practicing our coloring as we figured out how to get through all the stages of our projects without instruction. We struggled at first, because as silly as it sounds, we didn’t even know how to practice. However, let’s just say, if there were a class on how to practice, would I have been motivated to sign up? Probably not, as I would have thought of it as something dreadful. Yet, that is what we do now, we guide others and teach them how to practice because we know that it’s the key to learning how to color as an independent artist and that is anything but dreadful!
Does that mean I don’t take classes anymore?
Heck no. I take them all the time. But I listen when my inner voice encourages me to explore doing something outside the given instructions to see what will happen. It is great fun and rewarding all at the same time. So, the next time you hear yourself asking the question in an art class, “will this work” — try it, see for yourself what happens and let me know, did it work, did it make you smile?
I’m off to practice, how about you?
Until next time, color on.
What's happening in the Corner . . .
Do you "think" about your coloring in your image in layers? I know I didn't until I learned to start with a base layer of color from which to start my coloring.
We explore different purposes for creating a base layer this month, from establishing the light and dark value areas of your image; creating a color map to know where to place your colors; or create a quick base of color on which to add contrast and/or details with colored pencils.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you will be able to find the Practice Technique Pack for Coloring for Depth & Dimension here.
You can see more of my work or follow me on Instagram.