Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sidebar: A Word about Coloring

I'm addicted to a few activities -- riding (dressage in particular), gardening, cooking and, now, coloring.  And bizarre as this may seem, I think there are a lot of parallels between coloring and dressage.  Let me explain.

1.  It's about the journey.  I'm never going to be an FEI rider and I'm never going to be an artist.  I'm okay with that.  What I enjoy is the process of improvement; the incremental advances and successes; the emergence of beauty along the way.
I colored this one after watching a tutorial on using solvents to blend your colors together.  It's a fast, easy way to get smooth results.

2.  It's not about talent.  I am not naturally flexible, and no amount of yoga has ever changed that.  But, I still love riding despite knowing I will never have the elegant seat of a professional.  I took a drawing elective in college and enjoyed it despite being an epic failure.  My professor said that my drawing of a foot looked like a cartoon, and it was supposed to be serious.  Um, it was serious.  Towards the end of the semester, she would stand behind me while I worked and say under her breath (kindly), "this picture is out to lunch" -- and then reach over my shoulder with her pencil and fix it.  She gave me a B in the class because, she said, I tried so hard.  The work itself was not B quality.  My feelings weren't hurt; it was the truth; and I was thankful for her kindness and patience.  I've had dressage trainers who fall into the same category as that professor.
I used a picture of this one that I found on a website to do the shading on the compass.

3.  I've always admired art -- paintings in particular.  And I've seen colored pencil work that looks like water color.  It intrigued me.  So, when adult coloring books hit the market in a big way I was more than a little curious.  I unwrapped a couple coloring books on Christmas morning and ordered myself a set of pencils on Amazon.  And I got to work.

4.  Other than that drawing class in college, I haven't ever taken an art class.  So, I did what I always do when I need an expert's help: I googled.  After looking at a number of videos on how to use color pencils, I settled on two and watched many of their tutorials.

5.  The first was helpful in the early stages of my coloring.  Peta Hewitt lives in Australia and posts very straightforward and helpful videos.  Her style of coloring gives fast and satisfying results.

6.  And, then, somehow I stumbled across Henny de Snoo, an artist in the Netherlands.  She has a website and posts tutorials under the moniker Passion for Pencils.  Fortunately for me, Henny posts her tutorials in English (impressive vocabulary, I must say).  Her approach is conversational and encouraging.  Her method is not fast.  Henny layers color over color over color.  She tells us to enjoy the process, to find joy in every stroke of the pencil; not to focus on the end result but on the journey.  I've become braver with my pencils and better, as she guides and encourages us in her videos.
This is a picture in process.  Henny's tutorials last 30-40 minutes, in real time, so I can color along with her.  This one isn't done, but the background is getting close.  I think she is up to video #24 in this tutorial series.  It's a slow process, but so satisfying.
7.  Layering color isn't for everyone; just as dressage isn't for all equestrians.  Some people love to jump or fly around barrels or chase cattle.  It's all good.  I happen to love this method.  It calms my brain while allowing me an opportunity to be creative, in my own limited way.
In this tutorial, Henny is teaching how to color stone and wood.  The door is almost done, the rest needs a lot more work.

8.  As you can see, I have a number of pictures going at the same time.  The two last ones are dependent on when Henny posts the next video in the series, as much as they are about my mood.  I have the night scene I posted a few days ago that I work on when I want something mindless; something I can lose myself in.  And I've done a few other pages completely on my own, like the Alaska scene with the wolves.  Give it a try if you are at all interested.  If I can do this, anyone can.