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!
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!
Update: The Artist Edition of the Big Book of Colors Charts has sold out twice since first publication! It is now available again in limited quantities and won’t be reprinted until fall, 2022.
July 9, 2021: Well, it’s finally being printed as we speak and I am so excited! The second author proof I received in the mail is a gorgeous beast of a book and I can’t wait until my shipment of 150 book arrives at my door on July 22 so I can start sending them out on Friday July 23. What a nerve-wracking yet thrilling milestone, especially considering the year I have had so far!
❤️ BIG LOVE ❤️ and massive thanks to everyone who kept encouraging me to keep going and get it done⏤you are all amazing creatures and I appreciate you!
A new design for your coloring enjoyment! These two Fancy Birds are ready for some color and are offered here on my website before they head to my Etsy shop next week.
My coloring team tested out this design a few weeks ago (thanks, ladies!) and had a virtual reveal when Lora, Paula and Betty finished coloring them. It’s so much fun to see them all pop up on my screen, and it is interesting to see how each colorist had their own unique vision in regards to color palettes, texture, pencils and paper.
The first coloring (above) was done by Betty Hung using Derwent Lightfast colored pencils (found on Blick through this affiliate link). Some of you might recognize Betty’s coloring style by her gorgeous color choices, blending, and subtle leafy additions to the background. Her vision was tropical and she certainly pulled it off with all those rich greens.
The next coloring (above) was done by Lora King using a mix of Derwent Chromaflow, Holbein and a few Lightfast pencils as well. Lora wanted to accentuate the Art Deco style of the line drawing, and I feel she was successful. The white Chromaflow pencil was used beautifully to make the flowers, globes and details on the birds pop against the grey background, and the oranges and reds used for the birds create an eye-catching focal point.
The third coloring, by Paula Stone Leach, is soft yet vibrant, and also feels very jungle-like but more steamy. I think the Derwent Chromaflow colored pencils worked beautifully for her due to how well they lay down color and are quite rich. Paula and Betty (unknown to one another at the time) used similar color palettes, but different aspects of the art (like the branches) appear more shadowy and recede into the background in Paula’s coloring. I think this is why it feels “steamy” to me⏤as though we are deep in that jungle watching her beautiful birds.
You may notice that I am now adding more watermarks to the art I post online … I know it can be distracting to a degree, however art theft online is becoming an issue and I am tired of people stealing my designs and colorings by friends and selling them commercially. It’s becoming a problem, sadly. They cut off my copyright info and feel they have the right to do whatever they want with my art. So not cool. This is how I put food on the table and pay my bills. So on behalf of artists everywhere, if you see something that doesn’t feel right, reach out to the artist(s) to be sure they are aware of potential copyright infringement and theft.
But on a happier note – Paula was so pleased with her bird coloring that she framed it and hung it in her coloring space⏤how fun is that?!
Such a bright, peaceful space to work in, and the birds look wonderful framed on the wall! The photos below show the framed version and Paula’s coloring with the Chromaflow pencils.
Blick has a wonderful selection of art supplies for coloring and more, and I typically only link to products I have personally used and like to use. As a Blick Affiliate, I may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase through my website and/ or blog using links to specific products on Blick’s website. This does not affect your shopping experience or your privacy, but earning a small commission does help me continue my work as an independent artist. Thank you!
One of my coloring team members, Lora King, had an itch to color something really detailed, and since I had spent a little time working on a card-sized piece from the Mini Box collection, I thought it might be fun to redraw one of my original rabbit designs from 2017 with lots more detail. Below is my (unfinished) coloring of the original 2017 design using a mix of watercolor pencils and colored pencils. I did this when I first started playing around with coloring.
The rabbit design I included in the Mini Box collection had been resized to fit a 5.5 x 7.5″ card, so a portion of the artwork was cut off. I did this intentionally so the line art details would not be too reduced and too hard to color in this smaller physical format. Here is my colored version of the card (which is now in a sleeve in my planner) next to the original which was printed on 8.5 x 11″ card stock:
This smaller piece was a lot of fun to color and I used mostly Derwent Drawing and Lightfast pencils, plus Caran d’Ache Luminance and Irojiten pencils for all the details that I added in. And then I used a Luminance Titanium Buff pencil to blend all the patterns I created. For the sky background, I used Karen Spencer’s fab mica paints with a touch of watercolor pencil, and the colors were inspired by Paula Stone Leach’s coloring of my Kanga + Roo design.
After I finished this mini piece, I shared it with my coloring team, and that’s when Lora mentioned I should create a version with all of my little extra patterns already drawn in so she could color all the details. So I did (it took forever) and then sent her and the team the new line art PDF. A little time passed (a day or two?) and here is what Lora shared with me:
To say I was giddy when I saw her colored version is putting it mildly⏤how gorgeous! Lora’s colors are clear and bright, and I love that she incorporated what we call her signature turquoise and reds. Lora told me she used a mix of Holbein, Derwent Lightfast, and Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils along with Posca for the dots Cretacolor pastels, and also Caran d’Ache pastels for the background.
It is a challenging design to tackle, but one that will let you really become absorbed in color and pattern⏤and right now, in the time of the Rona and everything else that’s happening⏤is a very good thing. You can find this Fancy Rabbit design on Etsy!
Happy coloring and stay safe and healthy, my friends!
It’s been a long wait, but the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion: 2021 Organizer and Coloring Art Journal is now available on Amazon! Do you need one?
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a planner that has just a little structure and a whole lot of open space to organize what’s important to you—the way you find most useful and can grow organically with you throughout the year. This planner is a cross between a monthly organizer, a bullet journal, and an art journal and is divided into three general sections: calendars, a compendium for making lists, and a creative planner. There is also an index so you can record a title and page number whenever you create your own lists, notes, to-do pages, etc. somewhere in the book. And there’s plenty of art to color if you need to scratch a creative itch. You may also notice that this year’s Creative Companion is a little more compact which makes it easier to stash or toss in a bag.
Calendars The 2021 yearly calendar and a quick 2022 “look ahead” is followed by monthly calendars (see sample below) with ample room to plan ahead, jot down important dates, track your goals and accomplishments, and do some journaling. Like many, I use the calendar on my phone and iPad to set reminders and such, but when it comes to creative planning and personal notes, I still prefer paper so I can circle dates, color code tasks, and scribble ideas.
Compendium This section of the book is dedicated to making lists like art supply resources and wish lists, books, techniques, favorite websites, podcasts, and even a place to list your favorite hashtags if you are a social media junkie. There are plenty of blank pages to make custom lists—favorite Instagram accounts, gift-giving ideas, movies to watch, novels to read, email addresses, new flowers to plant in the garden—you get the idea.
Creative Planner The last part of the book is loosely divided into 8 different 10-page areas (each with its own artwork and a mix of graphed, lined and blank pages) though you can divide these areas up however you like. I use this part of my book to plan my own projects and have found that my planners from 2019 and 2020 are packed with important notes I still go back to today.
The first Creative Companion came out in 2019, and like the 2020 version, was 7.5″ wide by 9.25″ high. The new 2021 Companion is slightly more narrow at just over 6″ across but still 9.25″ high, so it is a little more portable. Below is the “author proof” copy of the book I received in the mail to make sure everything looked okay⏤hence the “Not for Resale” bar across the cover. The pic on the left is a little deceiving⏤the books are the same height.
My own copies of the Creative Companions the past two years have really helped me stay more organized. In the past, I would jot down notes on random scraps of paper in my studio, but I would usually lose them. When I needed to know, for example, what the ISBN number is for my Oceanimaginary book, or how many illustrations are in it, I would have to jump through a few hoops online to find out because of course I could not find that random scrap of paper. Now I have all of that info in the Compendium and Creative Planner sections of my Companion (and I don’t have to be online to find it).
I also have a section of numbers and stats for my little business, a list of new illustration ideas, a list of ideas for new products, pages of technical notes for turning my drawings into PDFs and books, notes and color swatches for paintings (like the Rebel Moth) and notes about how to use certain tools in Procreate, Illustrator and InDesign. I also have some odds and ends that come in really handy like a list of clothing sizes for my family, what I planted in my vegetable garden, and plenty of journal entries.
If you like to knit or embroider, you could include notes about projects you plan to tackle and even tape snippets of yarn, thread or patterns to your pages. If you are a painter, you could sketch out a new idea and include a few swatches or lists of colors you want to incorporate. If you are a gardener, you could map out your beds on a graph and make a list of the plants or seeds you need to find. And of course, if you love to color, you can list your favorite books, keep track of the colorings your are most proud of, or make a wish list of the pencils you are dying to get your hands on. No matter your creative inclinations, you should be able to fill this book up with the things that are important to you.
Finally, if you need a little inspiration, there are plenty of designs to color in this book. Just grab a few pencils and tinker when your are bored, feeling anxious, stuck on a long phone call, or while waiting for an appointment. I find that coloring small pieces of art helps me relax, focus, and even inspire new ideas. The Companion is not meant for coloring masterpieces, but more for playing with color and sparking creativity. All of the designs for coloring in this book are brand new to the Ruby Charm Colors collection and were created specifically for this book.
No one has to see what’s in your journal, so take chances, experiment, and get some of your ideas down on paper. You are welcome to copy the designs from the book onto heavier cards stock or watercolor paper if you like, and I will also have most all of these designs available on Etsy as downloadable, printable PDFs. Here are just a few of the brand new designs included in the 2021 Creative Companion:
Looking for a few more tips?
The new, slimmer format of the Creative Companion fits more easily in a variety of ring binder covers if you are industrious and want to take it apart by cutting off the spine. You certainly can use the book as is (and many people do!) but I like having the ability to add pages and move things around, so for me, popping all of my pages into a ring-binder makes the most sense. This way, it can grow and change over the course of the year as my needs change. Below is a photo of the Franklin Planner I use (Classic size) with my 2020 Companion stuffed inside. It is a little too wide for the Franklin so I can’t use the strap to secure the binder when it is closed. I am anxious to pop the new one in once 2020 is laid to rest⏤so much so I splurged on a Franklin Classic hole punch this morning! It’s the little things, I know.
Just for fun
Below are a few designs I played around with in my 2020 Companion. After coloring the seahorse, I wanted to see how the Finnabair clear gesso would work as a protective layer. It buckled the paper a bit and picked up some of my pencil pigments so I probably won’t do that again. Maybe as a base layer to provide tooth on smoother paper, but not as an over coat.
I printed this cat on scrapbook paper (back when I was putting together designs for a Singles for Print pack of PDFs for Etsy) and decided to trim the page to size, punch holes in it and add it to my planner for inspiration.
Here is my heron on the art supply wishlist page. I have most of the Irojitens and Luminance now, and finally all of the Polychromos. A few Holbeins and Lightfast. Someday I will complete those sets (I usually buy just a couple of pencils at a time through Blick, CultPens, or Jackson’s) and I really want to play around with the Mitsubishi Uni pencils though honestly, I am very happy with what I have and don’t need more pencils. It really is an addiction, isn’t it?
The Noctuid Treasureattica Moths (originally designed for my Insectimaginary coloring book) was colored with Lyra pencils, a few Irojitens and a black marker. I had just received the Lyra’s in the mail and was anxious to try them. I never finished this coloring, but that’s fine.
Close-up of a seahorse. As some of you know, I am obsessed with embellishing my colorings with gels pens after burnishing with a Caran d’Ache Blender Bright. This was done on one of those days I had too much work to do and just needed a mental break. I shut off my phone and computer and listened to music so I could refresh and refocus. And all of these colorings (aside from the cat) are on what’s known in the coloring community as the dreaded “Create Space” paper. While it may not be my first choice for artwork that needs to last (like pieces I plan to reproduce, hang in a gallery or sell) I have to admit I do love coloring on this paper and can get beautiful results.
That’s all for now, my friends! As always, stay creative, happy journaling, and enjoy each moment!