It’s been a while since I dabbled at coloring with watercolor, and I’ve missed it, but the whole thing has become so much of a hassle – finding the drawing, printing it out, and tracing it – that I didn’t feel like getting back into it. I briefly contemplated buying those adult coloring books (they’re all in the Vietnamese equivalent of the 99-cent bin now – told you guys it was just a fad) and a box of pencils, but it didn’t really appeal to me. So my art supplies just languished in my drawer for nearly two years.
Lately, though, I’ve been itching to paint again. Inspired by my blog friend, Mike, and several Instagram accounts I’ve been following, I wanted to try actual, proper watercolor painting, not just coloring. There’s another reason, too: I’ve been really busy this summer, but the work is so tedious that my mind was constantly wandering, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I knew I needed something to relax my mind. So I dusted off my brushes, dug out my watercolors (which, thankfully, are still good), and whipped up two quick sketches:
They’re pretty clumsy, but considering I haven’t touched a brush in two years and haven’t painted in even a longer time, I think they’re OK. They took me about an hour, and I felt so much freer with these quick sketches than with the coloring. I don’t have to worry about the techniques, and I can experiment more – I did watch a few Youtube tutorials, but just to get myself in the zone. Plus I had the brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of basing the sketches on my photos (these are from my Euro trip last year) so I won’t be short of subjects. Let’s see how long I can keep up this new burst of inspiration – I get bored and distracted so easily – but for the moment, I’m enjoying it.
More finished coloring pages! Like I said last time, I’m learning how to paint leaves more realistically, and now I’m beginning to get the hang of it. Next stop: learning how to mix colors so that they come out evenly (you can see that sometimes my leaves – in the same painting – are different shades of green), and maybe branching out from my usual subjects of flora and fauna:
I’ve been a little busy these past few weeks so I haven’t colored as much as I did when I first started, but I still got a few new pieces done:
These are in chronological order, and looking back at them now, I can see that I’m definitely making progress. I’ve learned to trace more lightly so that it looks like an actual painting and less like a tracing (just compare the lilies, which is one of my earlier ones, with the rest), and I’m getting more confident with color layering too. There are a lot of mistakes, of course – for one, I haven’t quite mastered the art of painting leaves just yet – but I’ll keep at it.
Coloring books for adults are all the rage these days, aren’t they? It seems I can’t walk into a bookstore without seeing a dozen of them. Usually the hipster in me would turn up her nose at what is so obviously a fad. But then I began to seriously consider buying one after I realized that, to unwind from work, I would do more work – like, if I get tired of my script reading, I would translate a book, or if I get tired of that, I would translate a movie. I needed a new hobby.
For colors, I wanted to use up all the watercolor supplies left over from my art class back in college; however, the paper of these books is not suitable for watercolors, so I decided to make my own.
I went online, found a website with free printable coloring pages (Googling “[blank] line drawing” also works), printed them out, and traced them with graphite paper onto my watercolor sketchbook. It’s a bit time-consuming, but the tracing alone is therapeutic enough, and if I made a mistake with the coloring, I could always trace it again. It’s kind of like painting without having to draw (which is great for me because I can’t draw.)
That one is my first try, so it’s kinda simple. Here are some more finished products:
I did print out a page from “Enchanted Forest“, but the intricate details are a pain to trace and don’t look that great with watercolors:
The realistic botanical illustrations are much more my style. I’m particularly proud of the berry ones:
Overall I still have a lot to learn, but I really like it. We’ll see how long I can keep it up, but maybe this coloring fad is not such a fad after all.