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.


  1. The metal and wood effects are great - also how you use more than one color in a segment, that makes a huge difference. I just gave away my coloring books and pencils because I wasn't finding pleasure, only frustration that the colors were never vibrant enough, and my wrist would hurt if I tried to make them vibrant with pressure. I never considered tutorials, oh well.

  2. You get it! I love colored pencils and it looks to me like you have learned a lot about technique. Layering is so important. Enjoy!

  3. Adult coloring books are wonderful for so many reasons! I have one, a mandala theme, bought to calm my mind on sleepless nights & hopes of fostering creativity. Haven't completed many, but it's fun pulling out my colored pencils from art school days back in the stone age. I used to enjoy layering style, but was far from the stand out artist. Art (or most anything for that matter) is 90% practice and 10% talent. You don't give yourself enough credit, your coloring is beautiful!!

  4. I think your pictures are beautiful. I'm not a talented artist by any means either but I would enjoy coloring like you do. I don't know if I have the patience for it but it might be nice to try some day.

  5. I love this!!! They look great!!! I haven't tried coloring yet, but I do now own a coloring book and pencils. This winter!

  6. Okay, I have to admit this coloring thing has intrigued me, but I've never bitten the bullet, because the completed ones I've seen just don't have any subtlety. Here I've seen subtlety via shading for the first time. I may give this a try now.

    Also: I ran across this possible solution for hot weather clothes, via $900 Facebook pony:

  7. Those look so cool! I've heard it's very relaxing to color... I could use some of that!

  8. Annette, these are just lovely. You are right though, it is the process of learning, of improving, of doing something that we truly enjoy that is important. I loved them all. I colored a book called Hats, back in 1999 when I had cancer. It was called that because so many women in our support group had to wear hats after chemo. It had the greatest hats for us to color and was a perfect therapy while going through a difficult time. I still have my Hat book, somewhere here.

  9. An American in TokyoSeptember 26, 2016 at 1:14 AM

    So beautiful!!
    Your coloring reminds me of watercolors!!
    I've tried to do watercolors, but it's very difficult.
    Maybe I should try coloring...hmmm! =)

  10. I love it! You are very talented. I bought a book and gave it a try, but I wasn't any good. It's much harder than people might assume. I gave watercolor a go a few years ago--it was enjoyable, but again, I didn't keep it up.

  11. Your coloring looks wonderful!

    I have a book of animals, many with tiny, intricate patterns. I thought they would be too tedious to color, but ended up loving them as I waited for baby number two to arrive. You are right that it appeals to those of us who love the dressage journey.

    I just got a Game of Thrones coloring book and can't wait to try it. I love layering colors and have been teaching my three-year-old to do the same. I wonder what the preschool will think.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.