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!
Winter is knocking on my door here in Michigan and it seems the older I get, the less I like it. And this is what inspired me to take a little time to color Sunshine⏤the need for warm colors and plenty of greenery.
Since Sunshine was specifically designed for the Companion’s printed book page size (approximately 6 x 9.25″), you will probably want to expand the design using your printer’s settings if you have the PDF and print your own copy. My old Epson has a “fit to page” option, plus I can also enter a percentage to expand the design to better fit an 8.5 x 11″ piece of card stock. I chose Kraft card stock (which I get at Michaels) and printed page two of the PDF (the grey line version I include with all my PDFs on Etsy).
I started coloring Sunny at about 3 o’clock in the morning. Another sleepless night, and honestly, I have had so much on my plate the past few weeks, I really needed to do something more arty than staring at a computer screen. When people claim that coloring (or doing any sort of artwork) is cathartic and relaxing, I can certainly vouch for that. I also thought it would be fun to capture the steps I took and share them with anyone who might be interested in how I do what I do.
I decided to work with my Derwent Drawing pencils first since they are very soft (and release a lot of pigment on the paper), and I knew that would they would provide an excellent base layer on the Kraft card stock which is thick and fairly toothy. I first used Wheat for the areas I planned to highlight (like the cheeks and nose) and Brown Ochre for the darker areas or shadows around the edges of the sun’s face. From there, I continued to add very light layers of Yellow Ochre and Mars Orange, then put down a layer of white (Derwent Lightfast) inside the eyes and over the cheeks and nose to bring up the highlights a little more. I usually like to work with fairly sharp pencils and when I hand-sharpen them, I don’t waste as much pencil lead as I do when using the electric sharpener. I save that one for seriously blunt pencils only.
More colors added in very light layers: Sanguine, Venetian Red, Ruby Earth, and then for a little intensity (since the Drawing pencils are fairly muted colors) I worked in Lightfast Strawberry and Cherry Red which are far more vivid hues. I then started filling in the flower petals with a layer of Yellow Ochre. Olive Earth, Crag Green and Pale Cedar were the first layers of the leaves. You can scroll through the phots above to see those steps.
The color charts for my Derwent Drawing pencils came out of one of the author proof copies of the Big Book of Color Charts. I removed a few of the pages with a blade and now keep them in my zippered cases with my pencils for ease of use. (Over the past years years, I have bought a few Soucolor and BTSKY cases through Amazon and they are pretty great if you are looking for sturdy cases.)
Since I started with three fairly muted greens, I got out my Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, which by the way play very nicely with the Derwent Lightfast and Drawing pencils, and added Moss, Dark Phthalocyanine Green, and Dark Sap to give my leaves more variety, depth and saturation. Still applying gentle pressure and creating light layers, and if you look closely at the photo below, you can see that I am not too worried about blending just yet and you can see how toothy the Kraft paper is.
The next hour or so was spend fine-tuning my layers, adding greens and more orange, red and yellow as needed. And then I started refining some of my lines and smaller shapes with my Irojiten pencils. I like using these for finer details because they are pretty hard and I can get nice sharp lines. With Autumn Leaf, I drew small circles inside the swirls of flower petals for extra texture and interest, then added Smoke Blue and white little petals over the eyes and in a few other places. I also used Malachite Green to add veins to my leaves, and in some of the areas I wanted deeper shadows. Same with Carmine Lake for some of the areas I wanted deeper reds.
Once I was comfortable with the basic colors I had on paper, it was time to start doing some blending. First, I put down a layer of plastic to rest my hand on since I noticed some of my colors were starting to smudge a bit. This can happen with pencils that have soft leads some sort of protection can really help. If you have any of my handmade books, you can use the plastic protection sheet I included. I like using it better than using paper because I can see through it, but paper works perfectly fine, too.
I used the Prismacolor Colorless Blender over the face and larger areas moving the blender with medium pressure in small circles. It helps to move your blender pencils in multiple directions to really work those pigments together and fill in the tiny ‘holes’ where the pigments skipped on the toothy paper. “A Few Thoughts About Pencils, Blending and Burnishing” is a post I did a few months ago that talks a little more about some of my blending tools if you are interested.
Once in a while I brush crumbs off my paper with this really nifty Tim Holtz Retractable Blending Brush I found this summer. It is meant for applying Distress Ink and Distress Oxide while using stencils, but I thought it would be great for colored pencil work, too. And it is. And because it is retractable and has a cover, I can toss it in my bag and not have to worry about crushing or ruining the bristles.
Next, I used the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright in a few areas to bring up the color saturation, and make a smooth surface for the ink and gel pens I planned to use⏤primarily around the eyes. I have found that if I use the Blender Bright to essentially seal my coloring, I can get much sharper lines with my Pitt pens, and lessen the chance the ink will bleed or snag on the tooth of the paper and then ‘blob’ which is a huge pet peeve of mine (and very frustrating since I don’t usually ink anything until all of the coloring with pencils is done).
In the photo below, you can see the sheen that developed over the flower petal swirl in the top left corner after using the Blender Bright. When I am working with both types of blender pencils, I am very careful not to burnish with the Blender Bright in areas I plan to add more color, or blend with the Prismacolor Blender. Why? Once you burnish with the Blender Bright, it’s nearly impossible to add color or blend further because essentially the surface becomes sealed. The paper becomes crushed and compacted and there is no more tooth left to grab your pencil pigments. A workable spray fixative will allow you to add more color, but since I work in a very small studio space, I don’t like to spray anything.
Once all my blending and burnishing was nearly done, I used a Faber-Castell XS Pitt pen to redraw and refine the eyes and eyelashes so that they became more of a focal point of the art.
Have you tried the Arteza white gel pens yet?! I thought the Uni-Ball Signo’s were my go-to white pens, but after tripping across these, I am sold⏤they are great!! If you like working with gel pens to create highlights and embellish your colorings, I think the Arteza’s are a must-have. As long as you keep the tip of the pen clean, it rarely blobs or skips, even over more waxy surfaces. As with any gel pen, they take a little coaxing and fiddling, but I am very impressed with these. And the box I got has three tips sizes: 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 (smallest to largest).
I also used a few more Irojiten pencils to add details and darken some lines, then started embellishing with white dots (with the Artezas) and also turquoise (Sakura Souffle gel pens) and a few sparkly blue and turquoise Gelly Roll Moonlight gel pens.
I can’t seem to stop myself when it comes to embellishing with dots. I feel it adds a little playfulness to my art and it can be a lot fun to do. Mostly fun⏤sometimes really tedious. A tip for using gel pens: do small sections at a time and make sure your ink is completely dry before working in or over a freshly inked area. I have had far too many whoopsie-smudges and now use a Chandler heat gun to speed up the drying process.
Hope you found my notes and photos helpful, and that you have fun pushing your own coloring in new directions if you so choose. I am storing Sunny in my Pinchbook (more on those soon!) and will be making a few fun products with this design in the near future.
Hardly a day goes by when my coloring team (and beloved FB community admins) Lora King, Betty Hung and Paul Stone Leach and I don’t hop on WhatsApp for a few minutes to say hi and share everything from gardening pics to funny stories, colorings and ideas, and updates on social media. A few days ago, we were talking about background options for the Botanical Giraffes coloring Lora was working on. She said that she had started with a pale blue background, then started adding brown and wasn’t too thrilled with it—shit brown, she called it. She shared a pic of her progress, and honestly, I liked the way she blended her browns into blues, but she didn’t (and that’s what ultimately counts).
So I asked her, half-jokingly, “Do you have an X-Acto blade?”
“You want me to cut it out and put on Holtz paper?” she asked. Since we have all been playing around with printing out coloring designs on scrapbook paper, I thought it might be a fun technique to explore.
“Scratch that idea,” I said, “too much cutting, lol!”
“So cut the sky out?…. that’s what I’d cut out right?”
“Yep, cut the sky out. But there are too many little vines and leaves—you would drive yourself mad, Lora.” The thought of superimposing the giraffes and vines over a piece of scrapbook paper was intriguing, though.
We then went back and forth with Betty about blending pencils with Pitt pens to create a dark background (and coaxing Betty to make a video tutorial for us). Lora disappeared from the conversation for a bit then came back and asked me to send her some .jpg designs that would look nice as a background.
“You cut that out already? I am impressed!” I said, then realized she had probably scanned her giraffe coloring into her computer and pulled it up in Adobe Photoshop. She removed the background using the magic wand and eraser tools—brilliant! So I did a quick search for free backgrounds and patterns online and started sending her a few.
In the meantime, Paula popped into WhatsApp and shared a screen shot of her phone—we racked up 130 messages! Yep, we get a bit chatty some days and those messages can pile up fast. And then Lora’s giraffe images starting appearing in our feed and we had fun voting on our favorites and talking about the way a background can change the look and mood of a coloring. Here is how Lora’s coloring looked with the background cut out in Photoshop—the background is empty space—not white, but transparent:
First she placed a vintage flowery pattern behind her already-colored giraffes layer that was tinted with greens, blue and purples. It looked pretty nice. Busy, but pale enough to contrast with the giraffes and it worked nicely with her green leaves.
Next came the old map background and we all loved it right away. Lora manipulated the map so that the African continent created a halo around the face of the middle giraffe and the theme and colors seemed to work really well together. Betty said it gave the piece a safari feel which fit perfectly. With the map, not only is there a visual impact, by intellectual as well—the map imparts meaning.
After the map, Lora tried a layer of colorful, dainty flowers—pale and very feminine. We liked it (despite how busy it was), but the map was still our favorite.
Then she added a layer of pale grey flowers. It offered a little more contrast, and might have worked even better if the opacity was reduced a bit so the pattern was more faded.
The great thing about Photoshop is that you can experiment till your heart’s content, though it does take some skill to use all the tools in the program and it’s expensive to purchase outright. More on that later.
Next came a series of blue backgrounds. The first one, with faint vertical stripes, made Lora’s colored giraffes stand out so much more clearly than the patterned backgrounds and it picked up the blue in the flowers she colored and made the pink flowers pop more prominently. And though this seems purely visual, the deep blue elicits meaning since we associate it with a night sky.
The blue splatter background had a nice effect, too, but you can see the giraffes sorta blend back into the background again. Not bad, but they don’t stand out like they do with the deeper blue above.
And finally, the blue paisley-style background. I like the way the blue is lighter in the center and darker around the edges because it highlights the circular feel of the composition and draws your eyes to the center giraffe.
Slight differences in background can make a difference in how we “see” a piece and this concept can be applied to how we color our backgrounds with pencils or paints as well.
When we started talking about sharing these experiments combining coloring with technology in a blog post, Betty reminded us that Photoshop is an expensive program / app but suggested people could still cut out open spaces on paper with a knife.
Physically cutting paper would be a very time-consuming process depending on the amount of detail and desired background space in a coloring design, but a fine X-Acto blade would work well. Printing and coloring your design on card stock would probably work best, of course, but there could be problems with the cut edges of the paper curling a bit and not laying flat on the chosen background paper—whether it’s scrapbook paper or some other special paper you are using. But maybe a thin layer of Mod-Podge over the whole thing would help sandwich the papers together? At any rate, it would be wise to experiment with all of this before committing to trying it on a prized coloring especially if you plan to coat or glue layers of papers together. You could even cut out shapes of scrapbook (or other) paper to add over your coloring design I suppose—as a collage effect. Another thought: a number of craft stores like Michaels here in the USA carry float frames that would be perfect for holding and flattening coloring cutouts since the two pieces of glass would essentially sandwich everything together.
Some of my favorite scrapbook papers are made by Tim Holtz, but there are lots of beautiful sheets and pads to be found online and in craft stores including Simon Says Stamp. If you do not have scrapbook paper at home, do a search on Etsy for “printable digital paper” and see what comes up. Lots of shops have gorgeous floral, vintage and other designs you can download and print or use digitally right away. You can also find patterns online, too, but be sure they not protected by copyright and truly free to use.
If you have the means to pursue the digital route (i.e. a computer or iPad, an art program that lets you edit like Photoshop, and the ability to use it or patience to learn how to use it), it can open up a world of possibilities for playing with backgrounds to create the perfect coloring art piece based on your personal tastes and needs.
Adobe Photoshop is amazing but it can also be overwhelming to learn if you are not comfortable with computers and the terminology used with this software. Photoshop used to be available on CDs as Graphic Suites, but now you can purchase an online subscription for a monthly fee if you don’t want to purchase the software outright. Unless you plan to use it daily for photo edits and graphics, though, I would look into other programs. If you have an iPad, I highly recommend checking out the Procreate app. It takes a little getting used to, but it is more intuitive than Photoshop and far less expensive. Basically, for a one month Photoshop subscription you can purchase Procreate outright and have plenty of change left over for a few colored pencils. And I can do almost everything I do in Photoshop in Procreate. And if you have an Apple Pencil, even better!
Betty mentioned that there are free background app for phones, but I can’t comment on them here since I haven’t used any myself. They would be fun to explore, though. The big take-away here is that I think experimenting with backgrounds using either physical or digital “cutouts” could be creatively rewarding for colorists.
Placing Lora’s experiments side-by-side offers an interesting overall perspective. From a “distance,” there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the first four patterned pieces aside from the more pronounced yellow hues of the map background, and the fact that the map elicits a more intellectual connection to the art.
The blues give us a whole new perspective. If we had more time, we probably could have gone on even longer playing with different background colors and patterns, but hopefully this gets your wheels turning a bit to play around with whatever you can get your hands on—whether it’s scrapbook paper or digital. Experimenting with color and different media can take your creations to new levels, and as always, the process of getting there can be enjoyable, too.
Sometimes inspiration comes from things in our own backyard and the trio of designs for this coloring bundle was no exception. Our last hen to survive a fox massacre about a month or so ago has decided that she prefers hanging out on our back patio near me, my daughter, and our dogs. She still wanders the yard looking for bugs, but seems to like the protection of the trees and roof over part of the patio, and even sleeps on a small table close to the house at night. Chickens are notoriously pea-brained, but Chiquitita might be an exception. This is her coming around to see if I have any snacks:
Isn’t the real Chiquitita a lovely model?
Like the rooster and the baby chick designs, I sketched Chiquitita (and the beet leaves behind her) on my iPad, then used a new layer to create a clean black line drawing. Each design took about 8 hours from sketch to final line art, and then I had to convert them into vector files and then into PDFs. It is a process, but one I truly enjoy. A little worried about running out of space on my computer though … still chugging along on an old laptop with my fingers crossed it won’t lock up.
After the designs were done, I sent them along to my coloring team and was so excited to see what Lora King did with the rooster using Holbein, Irojiten and a mix of vintage pencils she found online. Lora typically sticks to softer colors, but she went bold with the roster and he’s gorgeous! Betty Hung colored Chiquitita with assorted colored pencils plus Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils for the soft beet leaves in the background. Stunning, yes?
Lora King’s rooster and Betty Hung’s Chiquitita
Now that the chicken bundle is on Etsy and I’ve had a chance to do a little color-testing of the designs, too, I thought I would share a few tips.
My original thought was to stick with only Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils, but as I progressed and became obsessed with the possibility of finishing Chiquitita, I broke out the micas. Yes, the micas! If you have not seen Karen Spencer’s watercolors on Etsy yet, check them out—worth every cent as they are gorgeous, fun to work with, and they really seem to last a long time. I use mine a lot but have barely put a dent in the pans!
My first step was to color a base layer with the Museum pencils (Brown Ochre and Plum for the neck feathers, and Violet and Sepia) for the body. I do like using a watercolor base layer when I have time because it makes a really nice surface for my colored pencils. I try to apply medium pressure with the pencils and overlap the colors a bit so that when I grab my waterbrush, they are a bit easier to blend. I do not use a lot of water and just keep the brush moving while focusing on the smaller spaces. I also pay attention to where I pull the brush tip up because that usually leaves a little blop of pigment. Good for areas I want a little darker.
Remember to try different color combinations on a scrap piece of paper. It may not seem like Brown Ochre and Plum would go together, for example, but they create an unusual and striking blend. For those in the Ruby Charm Colors Facebook group (to join, just find us off the main RubyCharmColors page), you can print out the freebie I included in our Files folder to experiment with the feathers. And there’s a cute chick in a nest with eggs for coloring, too!
Sometimes experimenting does not always turn out the way we imagine but there is usually a fix. I used the wrong yellow (too harsh and bright, wrong tone) for the petal-feathers above Chiquitita’s face (yuck!) but later went back and painted over them with a mix of red and violet mica paints (below). I also used the micas to paint the edges of the feathers and started filling in more feathers with the Museum watercolor pencils.
Because I don’t use a lot of water while working, the watercolors dry fairly quickly. I usually bounce back and forth between areas during the whole process, too. For example, while the belly feathers were drying, I started coloring the section of yellowish-green feathers near the tail. Then the blue feathers, then the tail feathers, all the time keeping my colors fairly muted. Fun fact about the mica paints: once your brush has a little mica in it, even while using plain water to blend watercolor pencils, a subtle, lovely shimmer will show up in your coloring.
I used metallic gel pens for some of the embellishments on the feathers, then sharp Irojiten pencils to add some of the sharper lines. Instead of black, I often pick dark reds, blues and greens to give the lines a little more color interest.
I may go back over parts of the hen to add more detail and shading with my pencils and gel pens, but this is where I have left off with Chiquitita for now.
Since the rooster is part of the trio, I decided to use the same pencils and paints on him, too, though a little brighter colors and I added Inktense and Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.
Once the watercolors dried, I used a mix of regular colored pencils to work in more shading and detail. It takes me forever to complete a piece because I can’t help working it—adding more layers and details until I get it where I want it. But I do enjoy the process so even if I don’t finish a coloring (I have stacks and stacks of them) it still feels good.
Another note about mica paints … sometimes it is difficult to capture the shimmer in photos! You;ll notice in the Chiquitita photos above that some show the shimmer, others do not. You need to get the angle just right if you want to micas to show up in photos. You can also try different lighting situations as well. Goose-neck style lights work pretty well because you can adjust the angle of the light.
Rooster with touches of gold and pale silver-blue mica feather tips
The final design in the trio bundle, baby chicks, is a bit challenging because of the wheel in the background. Even drawing the lines was a little tough (time-consuming) due to all the overlapping shapes. I did a fairly quick coloring of this one in hopes of helping colorists see how the design works, though there’s nothing wrong with coloring it any way one likes when it comes to the wood, metal bits, and open spaces.
Last pic of the day before I get going on my next project—I just stepped outside for a break from the computer and said hello to Chiquitita who is hanging out in the crate we set up for her on the patio next to the house. I have a feeling she’s going to start laying her eggs here instead of random places in the grass. Thanks for the inspiration, my pretty friend!
Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong … oh, Mamma Mia!
Chicken Trio Coloring Pages
This black & white adult coloring line art bundle includes 3 designs, each with a bonus grey line version. PDF will be emailed to you upon payment acceptance.
Sometimes I spend so much time drawing designs for my coloring books that I get a real urge to splash a little color around and have to take a break from the lines. I was only going to spend a little time with this cat (still pushing for my new book deadline), but I couldn’t stop myself.
I used the wax-resist technique I also talked about here and here for the base layer of the cat: a Naples yellow Holbein pencil for the lines along with a quick wash of Karen Spencer‘s handmade watercolors (Carrie B., Brown Eyes, Brown World, Leroy Brown and Potters Brown). I then worked in gold and Ruby Charm (a deep ruby red) mica with the browns, and then Shy Violet for the eyes.
Shy Violet and other handmade mica paints by Karen Spencer
The neat thing about Shy Violet? It looks purple in the pan, but when it hits the paper, it develops a rich blue undertone. And depending on the angle of your lighting, it color-shifts between blue and purple. Many of her mica paints have this lovely color-shift effect, and all of them shimmer beautifully. You can find Karen’s paints in her Etsy shop, and she is known as @indigoartgb on Instagram.
On a side note … I had taken my personal copy of the Creative Companion apart (cut off the spine) so I could punch holes in the pages and put them into a ring binder (a little ordeal but great move) and that made it a lot easier to work with the page. My cat’s not completely done (still a little more fine-tuning) but back in the binder it goes for now. Time to get back to my lines!
Have questions about the techniques or tools I use? Don’t be shy about asking in the comments (or on IG or Facebook) – I love hearing from people!
I originally took the book apart (cut off the spine with an x-acto blade and metal ruler) and spiral bound it. But last week, I stumbled across a decent hard cover Kraft binder at Michaels and thought it might be a nice way to protect the book. I almost always toss it in my bag when I head out the door to work from the local coffee shop or library, and imagine it will get pretty ratty-looking eventually. But I also thought it would give me a little more room to add more stuff. The 8.4 x 11″ hard-backed Kraft binder is made by Recollections and was in the scrapbooking section of Michaels. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it online otherwise I’d provide the direct link, sorry.
It’s just a little taller than I wanted (and maybe not as thick) but overall, it works pretty well. It came with a sheet plastic, self-stick photo corner fasteners, plus a few Kraft card-stock dividers. And decorative brass corners on the journal itself. I am not sure what I’ll be drawing on the blank cover yet … but I am sure it will happen before too long.
Creative Companion inside the new Recollections journal
The biggest drawback I see to doing this from scratch at home is that the Recollections journal has 9 rings (which, by the way, are not terribly easy to open). Who has a 9-ring paper punch? I don’t. But I lucked out because the holes I had punched for spiral-binding matched up with the 9 rings perfectly.
My guess is that you would be able to take this to an office supply store like Staples and they could trim off the spine and punch the holes for you—if not the special 9-hole pattern, a spiral-binding hole punch with a 4:1 pitch that would line up properly.
I colored the horse on page 3 of the Creative Companion with a mix of Yasutomo pearlesent paints and Caran d’Ache Lumiance pencils.
I use my Creative Companion to keep track of the Ruby Charm Colors project mostly, but also do a little personal journaling in it, too. Like keeping track of how many days of school are cancelled because of the snow, birthdays, appointments, etc.. And, of course, I play with colors and use a lot of the smaller illustrations to warm up my fingers before tackling brand new line drawings for my upcoming books. The Companion is getting a little messy (some of the paints and markers I’ve used bled through a little) but I really don’t mind as it is what I think of as a process journal—something I actually work in and use. Not just for show or decoration.
I wasn’t too careful with the amount of water I used on the Sunbird on the other side of this page. No biggie. I still like the beetle and might incorporate some of the bleed-through into a background for the beetle.
The following pics show a few of my colorings so far in the index pages…
In the pic above, you can see the plastic sheet I keep in my book to protect the pages underneath the one I happen to be coloring (especially if I am using paints or markers). And I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the self-stick colored tabs you can find just about anywhere now are super handy for quick access to certain pages of the book.
For the monthly calendar pages, I write with gel pens and pencil. Light colors work best, of course. I am still searching for the ultimate fine tip, opaque gel pens though I do like my Gelly Rolls.
In addition to finding the hard journal at Michaels, I also found a smaller Kraft booklet I use as an insert. With everything I have to keep track of for the Ruby Charm Colors project (so many lists), I knew I could use the extra space. I simply slide it through an elastic loop that runs through the rings of the hard-backed journal but can easily slide it back out when I need it. Since it is also made of Kraft paper, it looks great with the journal cover. I painted/colored a few bugs on it so far.
The pic above is the beginning of the charting section of the Creative Companion. The Kraft journal cover I got at Michaels came with a few card stock dividers so I used two of them to section off my charts. That blank page is killing me. I’ll have to draw something on it soon.
Also, because I took the Creative Companion apart, I rearranged some of the pages, shhh. So now, instead of four sections of months (3 in each) I now have two: January through June in the front of the book, and July through December in the back, after the charting section in the middle.
Ideas for the 2020 Creative Companion keep evolving the more I use the 2019 version, and you have suggestions I am always open to hearing them.
My Faber-Castell Polychromos chart – a solid pencil choice for coloring based on quality and cost.
My Caran d’Ache Luminance chart – a very slowly growing collection due to their high cost, but these are probably my favorite pencils.
My Tombow Irojiten pencils – all purchased open-stock. Someday I’ll have the whole collection and love them for burnishing and detail work.
My Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils – be still my heart I love these! And yep I mixed up the olives (hence the swappity-swap arrows).
I adore my Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels and have the entire set thanks to a dear friend. They are fantastic!
My coveted mica watercolor collection – handmade paints by Karen Spencer! I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have met Karen through another coloring friend … art makes the world go round!
So that’s a peek at my Creative Companion so far. It keeps getting fatter as I tape in bits of paper scraps and notes, and do a little coloring here and there. It’s getting messy and I am curious to see how it will look at the end of the year.
If you’ve got a copy, I hope you are filling it up with goodness and having fun with it!
You can watch the video below, but you must subscribe to her channel and like her video there to enter. Be sure to follow the instructions for your chance to win either a Creative Companion, or a copy of Volume 1 or 2 of the Art Journal!
I am working on a new book for 2019 and it will be filled with fanciful insects for coloring. My first few drawings were of dragonflies and I was having so much fun with them I decided to list them in my Etsy shop as a teaser of what’s to come for this new collection. The book (still undecided on the title) should be available in April/May and will contain at least 30 eccentric insect illustrations.
The first dragonfly design was sent to my coloring team so they could test out my lines. What came back to me were wonderful examples of colorists who take adult coloring to new levels—and that can inspire us to be more creative and push ourselves artistically.
Ruby Charm Colors ‘Dragonflies’ design colored by Lora King
The orange flowers work so well against the black background while the cool colors Lora chose for the dragonflies provide a lovely, effective contrast.
This ‘Dragonflies‘ design for coloring is currently available as a downloadable, printable PDF on Etsy. You can choose your favorite paper and coloring tools (pencils, pens, watercolor, etc.) and be working your own magic on these winged creatures in minutes.
I have a second design, ‘Dragonfly with Lotus,’ also available on Etsy and once colored, they would make a beautiful set you could frame and hang in your coloring space or give away as a gift.
Though the phrase has become cliche, it’s true. Team work does make the dream work. I am lucky to have such a smart, talented and kind coloring team who support what I do, and want to share a little of what these amazing ladies do behind the scenes for Ruby Charm Colors. First and foremost, they truly motivate and inspire me to keep moving forward. And that’s half the battle, yes?
There have been times I’ve been close to giving up. Afraid I couldn’t do it all myself. Worried that devoting all my time to the project and not a “real job” was not going to help keep my head above water. The list goes on and on. And I am still dog-paddling. But a few kind words and caring gestures from the team at just the right times (and the support of my wise-beyond-her-years daughter and my amazing sister) helps me see that yes, I am going to be okay. I can do this. My team’s genuine interest in my art, and willingness to not only color it but help promote it, is my life boat.
Amazing things can happen when people believe in you.
I met my team members last year through Instagram originally, and we struck up conversations through comments and private messages. They had purchased my art through Etsy and colored it, and each time they shared what they had done over social media, I was in awe. They were not only coloring my art, but having fun with it. And even more exciting? They were taking my designs to the next level, each in their own creative way.
Once the team was together (virtually, since we are spread across the globe) we came up with a loose and fairly organic plan to help promote my work. Loose because I have always felt that too many rules stifle creativity, and organic in that the actions the team takes should always be fluid and grow and change as needed. And some great ideas have come out of this arrangement as well as some wonderful videos, promotional materials, and even tutorials. I keep the team supplied with line art to color (and other goodies when I can), and they rally around my latest ideas and work and help cast it out to a wider audience.
The team started a Colorist of the Month celebration through our Facebook community, and ran contests and color-alongs (which would be really difficult to keep up on my own). And when it was time for me to start working on my first self-published books through Amazon, they were there to help me sort through the good and bad ideas and deal with snafus. I spent hours upon hours staring at my computer screen working on the layout and making sure all of my designs fit, and felt lucky to have such smart, talented people just an email or text away. Friends to give me a pep talk when I was close to tossing my laptop out the window. Friends I could confess my frustrations about print quality and paper quality to. Friends to just say “hey, we got this.”
And over the past year, we have become friends. We jump online now and then to share stories and have a few laughs about our lives, and yes, plenty of talk about art supplies and coloring, too. I feel lucky.
So thank you, Paula, Lora, Betty, Steph and Lucia for being my dream team. You are all so very special to me in your own unique ways, and you are all appreciated.
Cheers to art supplies, coloring, creativity, and a very happy 2019 and beyond!