Well, there’s a day for everything, so why not a day for coloring? National Coloring Day was Tuesday this week, September 14.
For fun and stress relief! I read about a Drexel University study of the effect of creating art on just about anyone—just 45 minutes of art creation can significantly reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And you don’t have to be an “artist”, it works for anyone even if you’re just doing construction paper collages or coloring with markers. I can attest to its effectiveness, and while I’m a big fan of those of us who dedicate our lives to visual art, I always urge these brief sessions of relaxation therapy on others.
That idea, of taking just a little time to experiment and have fun and not worry about meeting some standards to create something “perfect”, was one of the reasons I designed this little coloring book.
What kind of coloring book?
In 2015 I’d been looking at and reviewing coloring books by other artists and decided I wanted to do a coloring book too. I didn’t really have the time to do the big one I envisioned of my larger portrait paintings and wasn’t convinced that was the way to go.
I really wanted to create a coloring experience that was unique to one of my styles, and looked at my premise from my daily sketches that practice is just as important as performance—it’s what makes the performance great. Practice also allows for freedom, and fun, releasing you from the need to create a masterpiece with everything you do.
The natural choice when I looked things over was a style that is very popular and lends itself well to coloring and would not need to be converted from an already finished piece of artwork to an outline for coloring—the black outlines with brush pen or brush marker. Most of those sketches were standalone brush pen outlines, but to many of them I also added color in a loose way with other markers or colored pencils or watercolor, a great example of where to start.
I chose a baker’s dozen of my brush pen sketches that easily lend themselves to either loose or tight coloring, or even adding to the sketch with your own brush pen, and created this little book with a different idea about coloring. Instead of intricate patterns you have a simple sketch and can color it as simply or make it as complicated as you like. And if all you’ve got is a half hour to work, you can create something unique in less time than that.
It’s named for this very website, The Creative Cat, of course!
Rather than larger pages with detailed line drawings to color, I’ve used small pages and my loose brush pen sketches with unfinished lines in varying thickness, semi-abstract shapes, and usually no ground, just a figure, and left the rest to you.
Here is a gallery of a few of the images in the book.
Just a quick little thing
You can choose to color in the lines and add a background, or you can forget about the lines altogether and add approximate color fills with markers, sponge patterns on the whole page, spatter with watercolor, use a different media and technique on each one.
I’ve kept them small so you can work out a coloring project in just a few minutes by adding a loose marker fill on the subject, or you can spend time to plan out layers of watercolor to create an abstract background, or don’t use color at all, use pencil, charcoal, or india ink washes.
Here is what I did with the cover image.
Here is a gallery of what a few friends have created. Below is a custom card made by the author of the blog Create With Joy using one of the pages of the book. You can click on the image to read her review.
My cat rescuing neighbor, Peg, who said she’d never used watercolors at all before, did pretty well on her first try! She added the window, cat tree and toys in her cats’ favorite room and added their markings too: gray and white, tortie and orange tabby.
Easy to handle
The book is bound on the top so that you can flip all the pages up and just have one page to work on without getting media on the other pages, and the freedom to work from either side if you are left- or right-handed. Finished pages can be trimmed out if you’d like.
The heavy uncoated cover stock can take a beating using:
– layers of various markers
– watercolor washes
– watercolor pencils
– colored pencils
– soft pastels
– oil pastels
– acrylic craft paint
– acrylic fine art paint
– pencil, charcoal, ink
– collaging glued paper or fabric
Add your own voice
The 12 sketches in this book, plus the one on the cover, each offer a compositional challenge as well, with irregular figures and negative space that just begs you to add your own brush pen marks or make the most of a color technique, glue beads and crystals and flower petals to it, or just leave that space to speak for itself.
So “be creative”!
(That’s kind of an inside joke. When I worked as a designer for direct mail, otherwise known as junk mail, the sales reps would often end their requests with “be creative!” Then they’d often tell us what we’d created was not at all what the customer wanted. Most creative jobs really don’t want you to be creative, just competent, which is why I’m self-employed.)
Everything doesn’t have to be a masterpiece
And not a big book. One of the things that keeps me doing art is doing little things that don’t have to be a masterpiece and I find myself much more willing to experiment and innovate on a little thing than on a bigger finished piece. The book is 4.25″ x 5.5″ and only 12 pages plus covers.
I’ve added several ideas in the back of the book that list techniques and media you could experiment with. Because colored pencils are so popular with coloring books I thought I’d add a twist that people might want to experiment with on the watercolor pencils just by adding a little swipe of water with the included brush, or even use the watercolors with the sponge to add a unique pattern. You purchase just the book, or purchase the book as a set with watercolor pencils and a sponge.
Some ideas to get you started
PRACTICE + first, don’t hesitate to get scraps of paper and experiment with a technique until you’re comfortable before you use it in your book
PATTERN + use a small sponge, crumpled rag, scrap of fabric or other textured absorbent material that will create a pattern on the paper, dip it into watered-down watercolor, acrylic craft paint or ink and touch it to the paper to create the desired pattern; layer and mix colors
STENCIL + impress your texture and pattern over the entire sheet, subject and all, or cut out the shape of the subject from waxed paper or stenciling material, place the cut shape over the subject and lightly adhere it, sponge or texture over all, then remove the cut shape to reveal white paper–or cover the paper with the stenciling material, leave the subject open and just pattern/texture the subject
SPATTER + use the stenciling technique above with spattering, using watered-down media, dip an old clean toothbrush into the media, hold the toothbrush at an angle toward the art and lightly brush the handle of a thin paintbrush over the bristles from front to back so a light spray lands on the paper, try different pressures, angles and amounts of media in the brush, add new colors when wet or dry for different results
SCRAPE + cover the paper with oil pastel in solid or blended colors, then use the tip of a paper clip or other plastic or metal object to gently scratch pastel off of the paper creating patterns and textures like stripes, flowers and geometric shapes
COLLAGE + rip colored tissue paper and glue it to the paper
SIMPLIFY + do something very simple, like add color inside the subject with rough angled marker strokes or watercolor, and just leave it at that
FINISH + when you’re done, trim the page out of the book and adhere your work to a blank note card or to a piece of card stock and frame it
About the book
The book is printed on pure white 120# uncoated cover that can take a beating with colored pencils, oil pastels, markers, watercolors, even acrylic paint. You can also conveniently isolate one page of the book by flipping all the others above the coil so that you don’t get any media on other pages as you work.
“This needs yellow!”
Yellow is Mr. Sunshine’s color.
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Read about creating custom items
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It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!