• Kathy

Practice Coloring . . . Who Does That?

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Here’s a quick little test. Don't worry, it will just take a minute and require no studying. Simply answer the following questions:

  1. If you were handed a box of colored pencils or markers and an image that has been printed on a sheet of paper, do you start coloring right away without any instruction?

  2. Do you color within the lines?

  3. Does your coloring look dimensional (more realistic)?

  4. Can you get five shades of color from any one colored pencil?

  5. Can you blend Copic markers seamlessly?

  6. Do you color with a range of values?

  7. Do you add enough layers with your colored pencils to be able to blend them?

  8. Can replicate textures when you color (i.e., glass, metal, etc.)?

  9. After taking an in-person color class or online video tutorial, can you recreate the project without consulting class notes or watching the video tutorial again?

  10. Is practicing just for kids that want to play a sport or musical instrument?

If you answered no to any of the above, then your coloring skills could use a refresher. And what better way to do that than to practice your coloring? That’s right. Practice is not just for those that want to play a sport or musical instrument. It may seem silly to think one would have to practice their coloring. After all, who can’t color? We all can color but do we do it well or to the level that we want—now that’s a better question.

I know when I started coloring it was just for the fun of coloring. I had no idea that it would become an obsession for me or that I would want to go from coloring small images for the front of a greeting card to large images that I could hang on the wall. That wasn’t a leap that I could make by just coloring from class-to-class. Turned out I had to color between my classes. It was in the in-between time that I started to learn how to make art.

I don’t think that most of us would equate our coloring practice to that of an athlete or musician. But why not? Think about it. The athlete practices hours every day of the week to spend a fraction of that time playing in an actual game on the weekend. The musician plays for days, weeks or even longer before they sit on the stage to play their solo. While practicing, they hone their skills. They might even try new things, figure out what works now because of tweaking something. That’s what you do when you practice your coloring between classes. You learn all about your tools. How they work on their own or in combination with others. As an example, I learned quickly that colored pencils don’t really like X-press It blending cardstock, but they love Stonehenge paper. Copic markers may come in 358 colors, but you don’t always have the one you need for your current image, so you can reach for colored pencils to finish the job. I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that when I take that next class I will get better results just from the fact I’m now much more comfortable working with my coloring tools.

Have you ever thought about the meaning of the word practice? Let’s see what Webster has to say about it. . . oh dear, he has a lot to say about it, but I’ll share just the points that I think apply here . . .

practice verb ... to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient or to train by repeated exercises or to pursue a profession actively (or in my case a hobby)
practice noun ... actual performance or application of repeated or customary action or systematic exercise for proficiency

Surprisingly, nowhere in the list of definitions did I see what excites me about practice. It's the opportunity to experiment with my art. You see, when I take a class my focus is just on getting to the desired result (you know, recreating that beautiful class sample) but when I practice, I focus on a skill or technique. I try the technique in different ways, I play the “what if I do this” game which often leads to exciting discoveries.

So, I hope that if you are one that thinks practice is boring, just for an athlete, something a colorer would never have to do—think again! Practice is fun, it’s for everyone, can be done anytime and is so rewarding. So much so, I’m off to practice this month’s Practice Corner skill where I’m really learning all about the colors that one finds in skin.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Do you like to color images with people in them? Do you freeze when you get to the point you have to color skin? Don't know if you should approach coloring legs or arms different than a face, what colors to use, or even how to shade skin?

If so, come spend a month with us in the Corner while we will focus our coloring on skin. With practice, you can overcome the fear of coloring skin.

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Practice Technique Pack for Skin here.

You can see more of my work or follow me on Instagram.

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