How to deconstruct your 2023 Creative Companion (Organizer and Art Journal) to insert the pages into your own binder.
Hello, coloring friends, it’s time for another shameless plug for my Artist Edition books, and an announcement about the 2023 Creative Companion coming out very soon on Amazon! Plus, I’ll have a few brand new designs coming out soon for Christmas. 😉
First, since my Artist Edition books are printed by a small press and shipped to me in big, heavy boxes, I only offer them a few times a year. I work alone (draw, create, and ship) and shipping is a really big, messy undertaking. My dining room becomes filled with boxes of bubble mailers, tape, books, rolls of stickers, thank you cards and shipping labels so I can process all of my preorders as quickly as possible. It takes me about 8 minutes to pack up a book, write a thank you note, and attach a label and stickers from start to finish (a little RCC trivia for you). Though the whole process can be a bit overwhelming at times, it is also very exciting to drop off all of those packages at my local post office (and the UPS store which is a bit of a drive) knowing that the books will be in their new homes in just a few days.
Why the Artist Editions? Are they better? If you don’t mind what everyone calls “Amazon paper” (which I don’t mind at all with certain colored pencils) then the Artist Editions might not be a big deal, but if you are picky about paper, the Artist Edition books are a step up. In addition to heavier paper, my Artist Edition books are also spiral-bound which helps them lay flat for coloring, and the Charts book has tabbed section dividers.
The Artist Edition of Birdy is a 9″ x 9″ square, spiral-bound, soft-cover book printed on heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. The Amazon version has the same content, but measures 8.5″ x 8.5″ square, is not spiral-bound, and it is printed on thinner paper. If you have or want this version (it is less expensive than the Artist Edition) keep in mind you can always makes copies of the pages onto your favorite paper (for personal coloring use only, of course, since my work is copyrighted).
The Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts has multiple upgrades from the original, less-expensive Amazon version. The Artist Edition includes tabbed section dividers, spiral-binding, and heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. Pages with charts for watercolor pencils, inks and markers have a black backing which helps lessen bleed-through.
The Artist Edition also includes additional notes about the colored pencils (information about the sets), pastel pencils, watercolor pencils, inks and markers; revised color names for brands that have changed their color names & numbers (since the original book was released on Amazon); new designs to color; and the new Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils have been added as well. There are blank charts at the end of the book (for extra brands or sets you may have that are not in the book, or for organizing colors and color combinations the way you prefer) and expanded room for the color family charts. You can learn more about this book here.
This will be the last time I print the Artist Edition of the Big Book of Color Charts and the new Artist Edition of Birdy this year. Both books can be preordered here as well as here through my Etsy shop, and they will begin shipping this month – just in time for the holidays and gift-giving season! Both sell out fairly quickly, and I won’t be printing either of these books again until late spring, 2023, most likely.
My next big project is to focus on coming up with new artwork for a future coloring book (and downloadable PDFs, too). Plus, I need some time to paint! I’ve got two big empty canvases sitting in a lonely corner of my studio just waiting for splashes of color. I don’t know about you, but I need to do more art!
For those patiently waiting (thank you!) for the new 2023 Creative Companion … it’s almost here! I should be receiving my author proof tomorrow, and if everything looks good, it should be on Amazon by the end of this week. I am looking forward to taking mine apart so I can punch holes in the pages and insert them into my Franklin Planner.
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover (and spine) and a few pages from the book. It is the same 6″ x 9.25″ format as the 2022 Creative Companion (small enough to fit in a bag); has around 20 designs to color; monthly calendars for 2023; plenty of room to write, make lists, create and track special projects, and more.
It is a semi-structured Organizer and Art Journal meant to be personalized by the user, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
I have a blog post about an earlier Creative Companion showing how it can be used, and a link about how it can be deconstructed to fit into a binder.
That’s all the excitement for now! I’ll be posting announcements on social media when the 2023 Creative Companion is available on Amazon, but if you can always peek at my Amazon Author Page to check for yourself. You might even see it before I do!
Happy coloring and cheers to all things creative!
Check out the new collection of products featuring Prairie Birds! The line art was originally created for my newest book, Birdy, and while waiting for it to be finalized and printed, I started working on a coloring of the Prairie Birds using a mix of colored pencils, watercolor pencils and gel pens. I then digitized the art on my iPad so it was easier to resize for a variety of products.
While I am smitten with the sling chair (alas, not in my budget right now), I ordered a tote bag, water bottle, laptop sleeve and coffee mug for my own personal use in my studio and for little trips. I am sure you’ll see the mug on my desk before too long. Many of these products (just a few are featured below) come in different sizes, and some, like the water bottle, have additional options as well.
Check the prices occasionally because items go on sale at Society6 all the time and they offer special discounts for subscribers. Please note that these products are all made to order, and they typically ship within 3-4 business days from several facilities around the country.
A little about the company … Society6 makes all of its products on demand. Artists (like me) submit their designs to create a collection, and when a customer orders a product, Society6 then produces it using the artwork and ships the products directly to customers (not to me). A bulk of each item’s price covers the cost of the item itself, but every artist makes a modest commission on the products sold using their designs, too⏤which is pretty cool.
I have ordered products from Society6 multiple times and have always had a great experience. If you do have any issues with their products, however, they have a great return policy (though a few items, like furniture of course, are not eligible for returns).
I just got an email saying my laptop sleeve already shipped!
Off I go to give my little studio space a good cleaning. Hope you all have a wonderful day!
Coloring the Blossom Buddies design in Birdy: A Fanciful Bird Coloring Book by Susan Carlson / Ruby Charm Colors
I am excited to announce that the Artist Edition of my newest book, Birdy, is now open for preorders! Shipping begins mid-September, so grab a copy early if you want to be sure to secure one. Quantities are limited as this book is independently published and being printed by a small press.
The Artist Edition of Birdy is a 9″ x 9″ square, spiral-bound soft-cover book printed on heavier 80# / 120 GSM paper. It is 140 pages.
My goal for this book was to create birds with an imaginary flair so you can color them any way you like. Imaginary birds open the door to a colorful world that begs for creativity. Don’t be afraid to color on the wild side!
Each design is printed on one side of a page so you don’t have to worry about ruining artwork on the back side. I also included two versions of each of the 28 designs because, based on years of feedback from colorists like you, some enjoy working with black line art (which can be easier to see) while others prefer lighter grey lines so they can more easily color over (or even recolor) the lines and add more of their own details. You don’t have to color both versions—my goal is to simply give you options. And if you prefer one style over the other, you can use the extra page for testing out your colors!
For eight of the designs, I created a special dark (or night) version so you can color with a black background, and I threw in few extra designs as well.
Please note: the less expensive version of this book will be available on Amazon.com soon. It is smaller (8.5″ x 8.5″) and is not spiral-bound. The paper is not as thick as the Artist Edition, but can still bring hours of coloring enjoyment!
An artist’s review of the Bambino clay crayons for coloring.
January is off to a productive start with a few new designs in the Ruby Charm Colors shop and on Etsy, and, some of my art for coloring from the Oceanimaginary book is now featured in the new SEALIFE Colouring Heaven Collection! Check it out when you have a chance!
My newest design⏤so new it’s not in the Colouring Heaven SeaLife collection⏤can be found here on my website, and also on Etsy. I really enjoyed drawing this Dolphin Trio and then spent a few days taking it for a test drive. My colors are a bit on the soft and muted side and there are a few things I might have done differently, but I had fun adding some extra details and giving my Caran d’Ache Luminance, Derwent Lightfast, and Irojiten pencils a workout.
If you are a part of the RubyCharmColors community on Facebook, we are taking the month of January to post photos (and maybe some videos) of how everyone is filling in their Big Book of Color Charts. Stay tuned because I’ll be doing a blog post about the benefits of color swatching and will be featuring color charts and pages from our community!
That’s all for now⏤cheers to a new year ahead, my friends!
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to start fresh for 2022. I am done with 2021 and counting the days until it is over. Back in August and September, I had plans to push myself and my little business for the holidays, but just before Halloween even hit, a glut of red and green things started appearing in the stores. My stomach turned and I hit the brakes. It’s not all about consuming and accumulating more junk. It’s not about the frantic sales and the money to be made during Christmas, and it’s not about any religious sentiments or beliefs for me either. It’s about slowing down⏤my natural instinct to hibernate and rest. Time to reflect and take stock by appreciating the here and now and what we have (which is what we should be doing each and every day, yes?). And so I have been doing some artwork because that is my sanctuary⏤the place where things make sense to me.
In addition to a drawing a new design for coloring (more on the Winter Wolves below) I have been taking pages out of my newest Creative Companion (2022) and coloring them. The first one I completed was Juno (an arty nod to the newest member of my family). I used a blade to cut the image out of the book (which is printed on what many know as “Create Space” paper) and used mostly Tombow Irojiten pencils. I also used a Caran d’Ache Buff Titanium pencil (801 to be precise) to blend my colors and give the image a softer, almost timeworn, vintage look. A Caran d’Ache Blender Bright stick was also used to bring up some of the colors a notch (saturate them). If you use the colorless Blender Bright, be sure it is your final layer because it does have a tendency to crush what’s left of your paper tooth. The good news is that while the Blender Bright mixes and unifies your colors, it also burnishes them with a somewhat glossy finish that “locks” them in and can make the treated areas of your art water-resistant. It also increases lightfastness so even if your colored pencils are not highly rated, the Blender Bright will protect them from fading a bit.
Another tool I use when coloring is, of course, my color charts. I started charting my pencils in the original Big Book of Color Charts (on Amazon) last year, but once I had my own spiral-bound copy of the Artists Edition of the book that came out this year, I cut pages out of the original book and folded them to fit inside my zippered pencil cases for quick reference. It works really well, especially when my desk starts to get a little crowded, and I don’t feel like the time I put into charting my favorite brands in the original book has gone to waste. I use the heck out of my charts!
The second piece I colored was a fancy little bird using the same Irojiten pencils and Caran d’Ache blenders. I grabbed a little video of the process (layers of Irojiten, blending with the Buff Titanium and the Blender Bright) so you can see what I am talking about.
Here is the finished bird. The original line art for this design in the 2022 Creative Companion does not have much in the background, so I added the cloud shapes and used sharp Irojitens to draw designs (mostly vines, dots and flowers) over two light layers of background color. From there, I used the Buff Titanium (and the white Luminance pencil) to soften and blend. For the brown branch, used the Blender Bright so my colors were more saturated and intense (instead of soft and muted).
Next, I colored a cat and then a horse from the Creative Companion using the same technique⏤same materials, same paper. It’s a technique that I usually seem to gravitate toward⏤my style maybe? It’s something I have been thinking about lately as I watch other colorists foster their owns styles whether they realize they are developing them or not. Are there any colorists you know who, when seeing their work, you know it’s theirs right away?
I also hate to admit this since I can be a big paper snob, but sometimes I really, really enjoy working on the “Create Space” paper. It has nice tooth and is pretty tough even though it is definitely on the thin side, and for this particular technique I use, it works great⏤better than some of the smoother card stocks I typically use. For what it’s worth … you can buy the best of the best (paper and pencils and paints) but they all have their own personalities and some play together better than others. It’s all in the combo so never be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you and the art supplies, paper and books you have available.
So the Winter Wolves … if you made it this far, I have something exciting to share. This new design is available on Etsy and here on my website, but if you belong to the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook community, I am offering it as a free download as a special thank you to everyone who has stuck with me through 2021–all my tragedies and milestones . I truly appreciate each and every one of you!
In the meantime, enjoy these two colorings of the Winter Wolves by Paula Stone Leach (left) and Betty Hung (right)⏤I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends who are willing to color my lines!
Have a wonderful holiday season everyone⏤stay healthy and stay creative!
Big love from the hermit of 2021!