It’s been a busy past few weeks in the studio and I’ve been diligently working on a coloring book filled with funky insects (and a few other smaller projects), but I also put together a Bunny Bundle for the RubyCharmColors Etsy shop to help my coloring friends usher in Spring and celebrate Easter. And truthfully, I could use a little Spring magic myself as there’s still snow on the ground here in northern Michigan. Will winter ever end? At least the robins are returning, so there is hope.
The Bunny Bundle on Etsy consists of two coloring pages with bunny designs: one in a circle with a few happy bumblebees, and one in a patch of fiddle-head ferns and flowers. There are also two different greeting cards that can be printed and colored—one with a “happy Easter” greeting and one with just the bunny in the circle design. I also included a full color copy of the bunny in ferns I colored just for kicks.
I had the help of colorist Betty Hung (who is one of my coloring team members) to test out the design for the bunny with bees in the circle. I am always amazed by the illusion of brushstrokes she manages to create using colored pencils, and by her stunning, playful use of color. This girl is on fire!
Betty also colored the bunny in the patch of fiddle-head ferns not too long ago (which is also included in the bundle). If you haven’t followed Betty on Instagram yet, be sure to check out her account as well as her website.
Yesterday, while working on my Etsy listing, I printed out a card and did a fairly quick coloring of it using first, a layer of Karen Spencer‘s beautiful handmade watercolors.
I’ve been storing my pans in Van Gogh “Starry Night” tins which I found on Amazon not too long ago. Nice tight-fitting lids that will help keep the paints semi-soft when not in use.
I started charting out all of Karen’s paints in my copy of the Creative Companion but need to add a few more and do a little reorganizing. Warning: these paints are addictive. You will eventually want them all! And Karen is so terrific to work with as an Etsy Seller.
Did you know she designed a beautiful ruby red mica and named it Ruby Charm? Be still my heart!
In addition to mica paints, Karen has flat watercolors, too, which give me a nice base layer to use under my colored pencils. This often gives my colorings more depth.
Unfortunately, the card stock I used to print this card was a little too toothy (not crazy about Staples 67 lb card stock for coloring). And since I was in a hurry, I was not totally satisfied with my results. My printer was misbehaving, too, and spat out inky black blotches on my page) but I managed to finish it all up with a mix of Caran d’Ache Luminance and Irojiten colored pencils, plus a few Sakura Souffle gel pens and UBRANDS metallic pens that I picked up at Target. Decent pens and economical (a pack of 30 for around $13) but they take forever to dry and are prone to smudging.
What I like best about my card is the mica paints I used for the orange flowers, the “dark blue DA” background, and the “Blanco” I used for the wings of the bees on this card. Hard to see the shimmers in photos, but in person? Wow! In anticipation of the insect book coming out, I would suggest grabbing a few of Karen’s micas—the Blanco and some of the lighter colors can be absolutely magical when it comes to painting and coloring insect wings!
If you purchase the Bunny Bundle, you can print and color a few cards and then make copies of them to send to friends and family for Easter, or just to say hi. Or, send out your original coloring! In this time of endless texts and email, it’s always nice to get something handmade through good old snail-mail. Sorta romantically thoughtful and personal, yes?
In addition to including my coloring of the bunny in the fiddle-head patch in the Bunny Bundle, I also used for a few products through my Threadless shop.
In addition to stickers, a zip pouch (2 sizes), a tote bag (3 sizes), and a cute drawstring bag, I also put the image on pillows. I am hoping to have coffee mugs and maybe even coasters available soon, too.
If you receive something from them that you aren’t happy with, just send it back and they will refund or replace your purchase, no questions asked!
I ordered a pillow and stickers and hope to have them in my hands soon. I’ll let you know how they turned out!
That’s all I’ve got for today! Thank you for supporting an independent artist, and I hope you all have time to do a little something fun and creative. Get some paint under your fingernails and spill a few pencil shavings on the floor.
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!
It’s been really cold here the past few days in Michigan, and combined with new, heavy snowfall, I have cabin-fever and am craving Spring more than ever. And that’s what inspired the Verdigris Rabbit—I need some greenery!
This little fellow is a single illustration on page 23 of the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion for 2019. I won’t go through the tedious step-by-step process of the whole coloring, but will point out a few things that might help you explore (or avoid!) in your own colorings with a little mixed media including the wax-resist technique in some small areas.
I started out with several light layers and shades of Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo colored pencils for the base greens of the body. Most all of the greens were in the Olive family, though I also used Moss, Titanium Buff (one of my “can’t live without” pencils), and Ocher Brown 10%. I used a few blues as well—Luminance Steel Grey (which has blue overtones) and Prussian blue, plus Pablo Bluish Grey. Lots of light layers, and once I got my colors where I wanted them, I burnished those areas with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright and a Prismacolor colorless blender.
For the left ear, I used the Indigo Irojiten pencil to outline the stars and draw small circles. I like the Irojiten pencils for detail work because they are fairly hard and I can get the points nice and sharp. I also used a little Titanium Buff inside the stars, then blended with the Blender Bright to soften the Irojiten lines.
For the blue areas (the stripes, inside of the ear, and parts of the flower design, I used the wax resist technique. The Prismacolor Sky Blue light was used for the circle shapes first. Once I had them all drawn, I used the Indigo mica paint (handmade by Karen Spencer) with a Caran d’Ache water brush to paint over the areas. The paint soaked into the paper leaving the waxy Sky Blue circles exposed. I had to swipe over them a little with a semi-dry brush in areas where the paint was a little too thick and stuck to the wax.
I have noticed that mica (and metallic or pearlescent) paints are a little less inclined to “break away” from the wax than solid (non-mica or metallic) watercolors. My guess is that the actual mica fragments are naturally “sticky” because they are composed of tiny bits of mineral. But, if you give the paint a chance to soak into the paper for a few seconds, it’s fairly easy to gently brush it off your designs with a damp (even almost dry) brush. Once the Indigo was nearly dry, I dabbed a little gold mica paint into the center of each circle. Once these areas were bone dry, I then used an extra fine black Pitt pen to give the circles a little more definition.
Another note about the wax-resist method … the wax from the pencils has to be thick enough to truly resist the liquid (paint) you brush over it. It works fairly well on the paper in my books on Amazon, but even better on card stock if you print copies of the designs at home on your own paper. Experiment on different different paper types if you want to explore this technique. Also, try going over your pencil lines a few times (pretty hard) so you get good wax buildup, and choose the right pencil. In my experience, the Prismacolors, Pablos and Holbeins seem to work the best. Your wax designs must be impermeable enough to push the water away.
I used a white Sakura Souffle gel pen for all my dots. What I like about the Souffle pens is that once dry they puff up a little bit, and they dry with a somewhat matte surface. When my white dots dried, I used a darker blue metallic UBRANDS gel pen to dab in the middle of a number of the white dots. The UBRANDS gel pens took forever to dry!
I had to go over my blue dots again in the morning because I left a piece of scrap paper between my pages while it dried overnight. When I color something in my art journal, I close the book and keep it under my laptop so the pages flatten out a bit. It usually works pretty well, but this morning when I pulled the scrap paper off my bunny, a few of the blue dots went with it! And I smudged a few of the coppery colored dots I put down in places.
Up close and personal, things look a little sloppy, but from a distance it looks pretty okay. Aside from the terrible lighting in my studio today.
The UBRANDS gel pens are fairly inexpensive (I got a pack of 30 at Target for under $15) and I like them, but they do take a while to completely dry—especially the metallics. Also, they don’t have the best reviews due to leakage. I haven’t had that happen yet but I store mine in their case, horizontally. There is a nice mix of metallic, clear and opaque pens, and so far they seem to work fairly well. The opaque pens are great on the black pages of the Creative Companion (like the calendars) and are fun to use on the black art pages as embellishments. A little blobbing and skipping now and then, but that’s to be expected with nearly all gel pens in my experience. Be aware of how you store them, keep the tips clean, and the caps on for longer life.
Below is a pic of the primary pencils I used for the rabbit. Far left is the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright (and the dark one next to it is a Polychromos Sepia). And my Prismacolor blender is getting too short to comfortably work with.
I may have mentioned this about the Caran d’Ache Luminance before, but I really do love them. They are expensive, yes, but I only buy the colors I need/want from Blick through open-stock. I can’t afford the full set yet, but they will always be a coveted part of my coloring toolbox. Same with the Pablos and the Polychromos which are more affordable but perform so beautifully.
That’s all for now! I am going back to my line drawings for the rest of the weekend. More fanciful insects in the works for an upcoming book, and a little surprise in the Ruby Charm Colors Etsy shop to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year starting Feb. 5. More on that later!
Happy coloring! And if you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!
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.
Art has the power to bring people together from all over the world, and since starting the Ruby Charm Colors project, I’ve met a few that have made my world a better place. Someone who has inspired me recently is Karen Spencer, also known as @indigoartgb on Instagram.
Karen hand-crafts absolutely gorgeous watercolors that have comfortably nestled their way into my collection of art supplies and I just adore them. Not only are they high-quality and an absolute dream to use, but I love knowing they are made by a real person—an independent artist who struggles and finds joy in art just like me.
Originally from Carlisle, Cumbria, Karen was adopted and brought to Blackpool where she has lived her whole life. Blackpool is on the Lancashire coast in northwest England, and is a lively seaside resort town with piers, amusement parks, and casinos. It also hosts the annual Punk rock Rebellion Festival and one of the most famous light shows on earth, Blackpool Illuminations.
Growing up in such a vibrant and colorful place likely had some influence on Karen’s artistic nature. As a child, she was drawn to music and the arts and dreamed of illustrating books for children. She went to art collage but money was tight at the age of 18, so she worked nights at a rest home and started making her own acrylic paints to help pay the rent on her first flat.
Holding down several jobs while trying to get through classes took it’s toll and Karen had to leave college before she got her degree. But, she worked at a number of jobs that allowed her to keep honing her artistic skills. Since the promenade along Blackpool always has room for artisans, she worked as a glass engraver and as a candle carver, and was an acrylic nail artist, too—for 20 years!
Following a few life-altering experiences, Karen took stock of what she really wanted to do. After noticing artists in the YouTube videos she watched were making a living, she opened her Etsy shop, KJDesignByKaren, in 2016 to sell handmade earrings and hand-printed totes (which she also sold on eBay). Around that same time, she noticed handmade watercolors appearing on the market. Since she had already been collecting a variety of pigments over the years to make acrylic, oil paint, and egg tempura gouache paints, she decided to give it a try.
Karen’s beautiful paints started selling, and as she attracted more customers and followers, her business gained traction. She introduced mica paints to her lineup, and her rich, shimmery tones caught the attention of artists and adult coloring books fans who craved unique, high-quality paint, and who wanted something extra with her new mica paints to spice up their work.
I was introduced to Karen through a dear friend who sent me a set of Karen’s micas. They were a surprise gift, and as I opened each carefully wax-paper wrapped rectangular pan, I felt like I was opening the world’s most special piece of candy. Seriously. Little pans of delicious jewel tones. Not runny like honey or molasses, but viscous enough to easily leave a fingerprint when pressed. Each pan made me gasp and ooooh and ahhh (just ask my daughter) and I couldn’t wait to grab my brushes. I was immediately struck by the creamy texture of the paints and I am now hooked.
And Karen has been coloring and painting my illustrations! In addition to being a skilled paint-maker, she is also a very talented artist. The first coloring she posted on Instagram took my breath away. Against a gold background, she worked some major magic on my “Cicadas” line art using a mix of Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils and her handmade watercolors:
She also colored (and painted) “Mice in Freesia” and blew people away with her blending skills and color choices using the Polychromos pencils again with her watercolors. Just look at those rich orange hues of the flowers against the deep blue ground and the delicate greens tinged with yellows and purples—lovely:
So what about Karen’s paints? Why are they so special?
Paints generally contain a basic mix of superfine pigment particles (which gives the paint its color) along with a liquid “vehicle” that suspends and binds the pigment in such a way we can use it as paint. Different paint makers use different combinations of pigments from natural and synthetic sources and vehicles (like humectants which attract and hold moisture) in their mixtures, and many are kept under lock and key.
Karen’s paint-making is a labor of love. She told me that single-pigment, artist quality paints take longer to make, and that every pigment she uses for her colors reacts differently with the special humectant she uses.
Her top-secret humectant is what makes her paint exceptional. It is a recipe she got from a friend a long time ago when she was making gouache paints. As far as she knows, nobody else is using this recipe, and it’s why her paints re-wet so effortlessly. One of the first things I noticed about Karen’s paints was that one touch of my wet brush instantly brought the paint to life. Compared to traditional dry pans of watercolor that require a good bit of “scrubbing” with a brush before the pigment lets loose, the difference was immediately noticeable.
Once she blends her pigments with her special humectant, she waits a few days until most of the water evaporates. Some of her pigments take several weeks. And then she pours them again.
“My paints contain no fillers whatsoever—they are pure pigments and humectant, unlike the bigger commercial brands.”
The mica watercolors are a lot quicker in comparison, although some of the colors “shrink back” during the evaporation process and she has to top them up.
The pigments Karen uses are all high quality, artist grade from a nearly 200 year old shop in London. (For a good primer on pigments, click here). Aside from Alizarin crimson (which was originally made from the madder plant and likely to fade over time), Karen’s pigments have the highest light-fastness rating so they should stand the test of time and not fade in the light.
“I have no idea how lightfast the mica paints are, as they are a new thing” she told me. “I don’t use cosmetic grade micas—only art and crafts micas (so the sellers tell me)” and she sources them from all over the world.
My understanding is that iridescent or pearlescent mica paints are pretty stable since they are made from mica which is a mineral that reflects light and gives paints that shimmery look. My guess is that the pigments used with the mica is what affects the lightfast quality of the end product, so if you are using high quality pigments and humectants, the mica paints should be high quality (and lightfast) as well.
Karen’s secret laboratory and workspace
Karen said she wants to continue doing what she does. “It’s very hard work and sometimes I’m up till 4 in the morning, but I don’t mind—I love it. I’d like to employ a couple of like minded people maybe in the future. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be able to support myself without having to slog it out for someone else.”
That sounds very familiar.
In our back and forth notes the past few weeks, I realized I found a kindred spirit in Karen. Like me, she surrounds herself with color and said that her house looks like a mad woman decorated it. “I believe colours can affect your mood,” and I agree.
“When I start a piece I can see the end result in my mind’s eye, so I just start with a colour then pick up the next colour I think will compliment it. I do try to limit myself to 5 colours though (you can have as many shades of that colour you like, in my 5 colour rule).”
And have you seen the pic I posted on Instagram of the gorgeous red mica paint she sent along? She labeled it “Ruby Charm.” Be still my heart!
In addition to art having the ability to bring people together, it also has healing powers. “I’m a great believer in the healing that comes from art and being able to express yourself when words fail,” said Karen. And she knows from experience. She volunteered doing art therapy classes at a drop-in center for the homeless and drug and alcohol addicts, and will be returning this year to volunteer again. Blackpool “has a massive drug and alcohol problem here (like many places) with a lot of hurting and broken people.” If art can play a role in helping people refocus and heal, that’s a very good thing.
I am looking forward to seeing what Karen does in the future, and am excited to try out her single-pigment paints when I add them to my collection of micas. Keep your eyes on her: check out her Etsy shop and give her a follow on Instagram, and if you try her paints, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
Cheers to art and the artists who make our world a better place, and thank you, Karen, for sharing your craft and artistry with us!
UPDATE! To see a full review of these mica paints by the talented Colour with Claire, check out this helpful review on YouTube:
You can also see Karen’s paints in action in this great review by Hungry for Paint on YouTube:
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!
If you want to see what this adult coloring art journal is all about and how to use it, take a look. In addition to being able to track your days and your creative ideas, there are colored pencil (and watercolor pencil) charts you can use to keep track of your coveted coloring supplies. And there are plenty of illustrations to color.
Cheers to creativity! And please be sure to like and subscribe to Steph’s channel for book reviews, coloring tips and more!
Original colored pencil art for the book cover, and the proof copy of the Creative Companion.
This unique 209 page book, which conveniently fits in most bags since it’s a little smaller than the Volume 1 & 2 Adult Coloring Art Journals, was designed especially for adult coloring book fans who need a place to keep all their notes and supply lists organized. While there is no right or wrong way to use the book, it is a place for you to explore (and keep track of) your creative ideas throughout the year through writing, coloring and even sketching.
A big thank you goes out to the RubyCharmColors Facebook coloring community for helping me out with the “pencil poll”—the coloring experiences and knowledge you all shared with me has been very helpful!
The Holbein colored pencil chart – ready to be filled in with your own pencils
The Caran d’Ache Luminance pencil chart. I drew sloppy stars next to a few colors I need to order when I have a chance, and I also plan to mark which pencils I have more than one of. This will be super handy when it comes time to order more.
For each of the brands in the book, I included information about how the pencils are packaged in sets and how many total colors there are. There are also plenty of empty charts to fill in with additional pencil brands, and those charts include “space counts” on each page to help you take some of the guess work out of deciding how many pages you need to add your other brands. You can use these pages for swatches, but you can also (if you purchase your pencils individually or a few at a time like I do) use the charts to keep track of the pencils you have and what you still need or want.
I have accidentally ordered duplicates of some of my pencils, so I plan to use the charts to keep track of them so I don’t do it again—especially since I am on a budget. And I plan to jot down prices and other notes about my pencils. Keep this book handy at your desk, or take it along while shopping in your favorite art supply stores if needed.
As mentioned earlier, the book also has a section dedicated to charting popular watercolor pencil and pastel brands (Inktense, Albrecht Durer, Museum, and Neocolor II), a few blank charts, and room for charting out your gel pens. There are even black pages included throughout the book for swatching and charting your lighter colored pencils and pens.
I used a mix of colored pencils, some pearlescent paint, and lots of gels pens to color this fish. There are a number of illustrations on black to experiment with in the book, so don’t be afraid to tackle them and make your colors leap off the page!
I like to use small self-stick / removable tabs to mark the pages I use most often in my books. They can be found at most stores that carry office supplies.
In addition to all the charts, there is plenty of room to make lists, jot down ideas and techniques you want to try, tally up the coloring books you have (and want to get your hands on), or even make lists of your favorite YouTube colorists to follow. If you are addicted to social media, you can keep track of your favorite arty accounts. Or you can list your coloring or art projects and use the book to set goals for yourself.
You can even set it up like a bullet journal if you would like. If you are not yet familiar with bullet journals, you can check them out here and here for helpful overviews, and there are numerous websites dedicated to getting you started—just do a quick search. Some of the common features in a bullet journal are already done for you (like the index and calendars) in this book, but there should be enough free space to design the book the way you want.
The Creative Companion includes a yearly calendar overview for 2018 – 2020 (so you can easily look back or look ahead), plus 12 monthly calendars printed on black pages. You can write on them with pencils or gel pens, or simply use them as a reference and write down your important dates and events on the monthly highlight page next to it.
Like many of you, I use the calendar on my cell phone to set important reminders and keep myself organized day-to-day, but there are some things I wouldn’t (or simply can’t) put on my smart phone. It doesn’t let me be messy. I still like to write things down and love the feel of a book in my hands. The tactile nature of messing about with pens and pencils just can’t be replaced by electronics.
Opaque gel pens, metallic gel pens and light colored pencils work best when writing or drawing on black. The back side of each month includes a full page illustration for coloring and the black page helps prevent the design from showing through.
Each month in the book has a highlights page, plus lined pages for notes.
Oh gosh—I nearly forgot: there are lots of illustrations to color. Over 70! Some are small for those times you just want to play for a bit. Maybe while stuck on the phone, or when relaxing at a coffee shop, or while waiting for an appointment. Take it on vacation if you’d like because it can be a great little travel companion, too. Other illustrations fill up an entire page and allow for more sustained coloring sessions.
I started coloring one of the leopards with a little watercolor and glittery gels pens. While the paper can handle some water, always use a protective sheet underneath. Same with markers as bleed-through can occur—better safe than sorry!
This book is meant to be used and get messy!
Don’t be too concerned if your book gets a little dog-earred and scruffy because it means you are exercising your creative side. The illustrations in the book are meant for playing with color and inspiring ideas so you can take things a step further if you wish.
Adult coloring has been popular for quite some time now, and I think it is exciting to see how many of you are taking your colorings to the next level by exploring patterns, texture, new techniques and new media to incorporate with your colored pencil work. It is healthy and satisfying to take part in the creative process, even if the bare bones are the simple lines of another artist like me. You have the ability to bring your own vision to a piece and fill it with your own magic.
Cheers to creativity, everyone! And if you have questions, comments (or even suggestions for my 2020 Creative Companion), please leave a note below!