A Chat with Sue Chastain


THIS MONTH’S FEATURE artist is the amazing Sue Chastain. Hold on to your St. Paddy’s day hats because Sue has drawn seven exclusive images for the spectacular month of March.

What made you decide to become a coloring book artist?

I had a forced career change from the web writing job I had been doing for 15 years. This got me back to exploring more of my creative side as I was trying to figure out what to do with my life next. One of the things I was doing was an online “create one a day” group project where I committed to doing something creative every day.

My evening relaxation consisted of kicking back with my iPad and a drawing program called iOrnament where I created all sorts of colorful patterns and mandala designs. Well, at the time I didn’t even know they were called mandalas, but I enjoyed making them—I have always enjoyed patterns and symmetry. I was posting them online for the create one a day project. One of my friends saw them and suggested they would make good coloring pages. She then filled me in on the adult coloring “craze” which was right at its peak around this time.

That got me interested. I started creating my designs without color, and it was like something clicked. Creating my designs without color was so much more enjoyable! I did use a lot of those early colorful designs as the basis for the designs in my first two books, but I was hooked on creating line art from then on. And there is something special about the collaboration between the line artist and the colorist—I just love that merging of talents.

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

If you haven’t guessed already, I use iPad and computer primarily. I have always been fascinated by the convergence of art and technology and the new possibilities it opens up. But my designs are all original in that they are conceived by me and digitally hand-drawn either on the iPad or computer. Technology allows me to remove some of the more tedious steps from the process like cleaning up eraser marks and smudges, and creating repeats and symmetrical elements easily. If I use pencil and paper at all it’s just to do quick thumbnail sketches of ideas as they come to me.

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

My Christian faith—hearts and love is a theme you’ll find in many of my designs. I also take inspiration from all of God’s creations and from other artists. My Dad (who passed away last year) was an artist and painter, and his memory and the strong work ethic he instilled in me inspires me to continually push myself to improve and grow and learn.

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?

I do color my own work occasionally, but I find it far less stressful to color other artists’ work! My favorite media are markers, gel pens, and watercolors. I dislike pencils, mostly because I don’t like stopping to sharpen so often. My Dad was a watercolorist so I like to dabble with that, but of course that presents challenges with coloring because of the paper requirements.

Running my business keeps me very busy, so it’s hard to find time to color. When I do color it’s usually with family or a friend. Or else it’s something I’m doing as a gift, card, or craft project. I enjoy coloring more when it has a purpose beyond simply passing the time.

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

Success for me is staying true to yourself and your values. When I receive notes from people who tell me they got through a panic attack by coloring one of my designs, or that coloring my line art helped them remember a loved one… that to me is the highest measure of success. Those personal stories are what keep me keeping on.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite coloring book artist?

Oh gosh, it is so hard to pick just one. I have met so many wonderful artists (line artists and colorists) in the coloring community. I suppose if I can only name one it would have to be my dear friend Jenny Luan of InkTangle Gifts. We met when we were both designing for print-on-demand site Zazzle and formed a friendship as we both got into making coloring books around the same time. She shares my Christian faith, and we have been each other’s support system and sounding boards. Together, we share a coloring group on Facebook along with Sarah Renae Clark and Ligia Ortega called Color, Create, Inspire.

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

My favorite color is red—the color of love and hearts—and I tend to go for most colors on the “warm” side of the color wheel, especially red, hot pink, deep purple, orange and deep yellow. I love the pure, bright, and bold colors that make a statement.

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

Music—I always have something playing as I work. I am also a voracious reader, with an ebook and audiobook usually in progress simultaneously. During the hot Florida summers, I spend as much time as I can swimming in the pool. And I have two fur-babies but no kids (besides the one I married). A perfect day would be floating in the pool and listening to music, while reading a book, then doodling on my iPad while I drip-dry with my dog by my side. LOL!

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

My number one goal for 2017 is to get my website revamped, which should be done by the time this issue comes out. Finishing that will lay the groundwork for my other plans: to begin offering coloring products in different formats such as greeting cards, calendars, totes, and more. And I’m always working on new designs for my monthly freebies, digital bundles, and the next book. I haven’t decided what my next book will be… maybe mandalas, more Feel Good Words, or perhaps another Mini-OrnaMENTALs book.

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

I’m currently listening to “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay, and I’m reading “In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector” by Jessica Hische. The last book I finished before those was “Pennies for Hitler” by Jackie French. I’m not a big moviegoer, but the last movie I watched was “The Martian.” Of course, I read the book by Andy Weir first!

If you could be any super hero, who one would you be? Why?

Is a hobbit a super hero? I’d like to be like Frodo Baggins who was steadfast, faithful, and humble, and he completed his mission.



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