A Chat with Christine Aldridge

Christine Aldridge is the feature artist for September. Christine has drawn five exclusive images that we know you will find as beautiful as we do.

What made you decide to become a coloring book artist?

The short answer is that I discovered I could draw. But, the longer and truer answer is that it was a complete accident. I lost a sister, a job, and then the other sister in a very short period of time. In desperation to find something to keep my mind from going off the rails I hunted up my favorite old toy, a deluxe Spirograph set, and went online to see if there was a pattern guide. Instead, I discovered a “How to Draw a Mandala” video with these instructions: “Start with a seed, draw with intention.” That’s it.

Up to that point, the most complicated thing I’d ever drawn was the pipe assembly under my kitchen sink so the guy at Home Depot would know what the “thingy” was that I needed for a repair. I posted some of my first drawings to my Facebook Page (they were pitiful), but I kept at it and the drawings got better. Friends started suggesting they would be great colored so I opened an Etsy shop, and that’s how it happened!

How do you create your art? Do you create your drawings by computer or do you prefer old school pencil and paper?  

I am old school pencil and paper all the way. I draw with cheapo mechanical pencils (the kind that come 20 in a package) and then ink with Sakura Pigma Microns.  For the most part I draw free-hand, but I do have a ton of precision tools: Rulers, protractors, French curves, ovals, angles, squares, coins, etc., that I use to lay out basic shapes. I’m lucky to have been blessed with steady nerves and hands but because my drawings are “neat and precise” (that’s the “draw with intention” aspect), I’m often asked if  I use a computer program. I have tried drawing that way, but it sends my creative muse into hiding and eliminates the chances for the magical accidents that so often happen in my art.

What is your inspiration for the different types of art that you create for your coloring books?

Inspiration! Well, if I were only allowed one word it would have to be “symmetry,” but expanded out it would be proportion, harmony, balance and grace.  All the aspects of symmetry that are found in nature.  It’s expressed in mathematics as a Fibonacci series. A study of “classically beautiful people” indicates that their physicality is perfectly symmetrical. This happens in nature as well.. think of the way a flower looks when the bloom is fully open, the way a bird’s feathers cascade toward the wingtip, a butterfly’s wing.  You also see it in good architecture . I love to visit places with ornate moldings or carved woodwork. I can get lost for hours in the moldings section of a home improvement store, or walking along in an old neighborhood looking at the woodwork. My favorite art “periods” are both Art Deco and Art Nouveau, both of which I have bent into the shape of my work. Recently I’ve begun to try fanciful animals, but I keep getting drawn back to symmetry; my comfort zone.

Do you ever color your own work? And if so, what’s your favorite medium? Do you like pencils, markers or are you dipping into random reserves around the house for anything that can apply color in an interesting fashion?

Initially coloring my own, or anyone else’s work made me a bit anxious because it took time away from drawing. I did it only when necessary ( like a colored-in version of the first drawing I released in my Etsy shop ), etc. At that time I owned a set of 24 Kodak colored pencils and a set of RoseArt Watercolor markers from a discount store.  Since then I’ve added substantially to my coloring supplies: Marco Raffines, Prismacolor Premiers,  a really lovely set of Polychromo’s-like pencils licensed by Deli (my current favorite pencils), and another nicer set of watercolor markers.

Recently my art was featured for a month of color-along’s on a YouTube channel, which pretty much necessitated that I color. I found that I love the subtlety possible with pencils, but when it comes to coloring for pleasure I love the deep rich colors of markers, and I really love the effect you get when you layer pencils over markers.

I watched some demonstration videos on YouTube of  Derwent Inktense (water-activated Ink Pencils) and Caran d’Ache Neocolor II’s (water-soluble wax crayons), and bought the smallest set of each to try. I’m still experimenting with them, but I have to say that they are definitely in the running for my absolute favorite medium. There is something very pleasurable for me about applying color with a brush. I’ve also discovered Extreme Glitter FolkArt acrylic paints to add just the right amount of sparkle.  I’ve given paper an aged look by dabbing it with strong tea and coffee, used old rub-on stencil paint from the back of my craft closet and mixed Pearlescent pigment with water-based glue to apply with small wet brush.  So far, I’ve avoided the lure of alcohol markers, but I’m sure I’ll go down that rabbit-hole one day soon as well!

How do you define success and how do you measure it?

 The very first time a stranger handed me money for the right to download and print something that I had drawn I declared that piece a success, and I still measure success one drawing, one sale, and one new fan at a time. The first time I held a commercially published physical book that I had created purely from imagination, in my hands (and yes, I did pet it a time or two, LOL!), and then watched as people across the globe reviewed it and other people I would never know paid money for it, I felt like that book was a success. Fans of an artist are amazing people, and they will tell you if you are on the wrong or right track with your art without ever having to say a single word.

On the less mercenary and fluffier side of that coin are the testimonials of folks who send me notes about the joy they’ve gotten out of coloring something I’ve drawn. The idea that I’ve contributed in any way to lightening or brightening someone’s life through my art makes my heart sing, and I do consider that a great success. Thanks to the magic of social media, artists and fans get to enjoy much more direct interactions through sharing of processes and beautiful finished colorings and it’s wonderful.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite coloring book artist?

Having just one favorite would be impossible for me, but some of the artists whose work I really admire right now are Jane F. Hankins, for her purely original whimsy in The Imaginary World of Jane F. Hankins series; Cristina McAllister, for her gorgeous use of symmetry in the Magical Beauties and Lost Lumina series; and Tatiana Bogema, for her Nice Little Town and Little Dragon series. This is just the tip of a very large iceberg!

I’ve also collected works by Bennett Klein, Tomislav Tomic, Hanna Karlzon, Maria Trolle, Leila Duly, David Petersen’s “Mouse Guard” and Sue Curry, to name just a few.

What color or colors do you most love to work with?

I am a huge fan of jewel tones: Deep rich golden browns, ruby reds, sapphire blues, emerald greens, amethyst purples, etc., but I also love a tangerine orange, teal blue, fuschia pink and charcoal gray, all of which you will find in my personal colorings.

Outside of creating coloring books, do you have any other hobbies or activities that you love?

I was fortunately blessed with “crafty” parents so I knit, crochet, sew and do various needle work.

Under the influence of my father and the fact that he only had girls, I learned how to do “home improvement” projects and repairs and I do love those, and I play a little golf.

My true and best pleasure though comes at the end of the day when I can sit down with a good book and enter whatever world the author has dreamed up for a few hours of absolute bliss!

What are your plans for the next year? Do you have any new coloring book releases planned?

My next coloring book, the 8th in the series, is scheduled for release in late October/early November of this year (I’m still drawing it), and is on track for the Christmas Season.

I’ll also be resuming work on my textiles line (wallpapers, fabrics and home decor), and am hoping to bring a new line of Prints and Original Art (non-coloring book related) forward this year.

What are the titles of the last three books you have read or movies you’ve watched?

Dance with Dragons“, (Book 5 of Game Of Thrones), by George R.R. Martin; “The Chemist“, by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series & The Host); And “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto,” by Mitch Albom (Tuesday’s with Morrie), whose tag line hooked me: “I am Music. And I have come for the soul of Frankie Presto…” it’s an amazing read!

If you could be any animal on a carousel, what would you be, and why?

I think it would have to be some sort of leaping cat.. a tiger or a black panther or a leopard… color, color and color! They are all so beautiful.. sleek, graceful, elegant.

Leave a Reply