By Stephanie Walker
Sometimes we all need a little boost to our hobbies in order to take them to the next level. I realised I was at this point after I had been coloring for several months. During those first few months of getting a feel for my new hobby, I had fun figuring out what my favorite medium was, discovering my favorite coloring book artists, and the styles of art that I preferred to color.
This took up a lot of my coloring time. So when I had finally figured things out and was settled in nicely, coloring with my markers in my most beloved coloring books, it was awesome. But I felt I needed more. I wasn’t getting bored. In fact, I loved coloring more than ever, but I knew I definitely wanted to bring this hobby to the next level as I was continuing to develop my skills. I needed to challenge myself, and here’s how I did it.
Self Challenges – Start Small!
The first thing I decided to do was challenge myself to try different mediums again. To revisit the other options in my coloring supply arsenal. Markers were fabulous, but I had gotten so comfortable with them that I hardly used anything else even though I had no shortage of options.
I noticed the one medium I had been shying away from the most was colored pencils. I had a beautiful set of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, and a dear friend had sent me a lovely set of Staedtler Ergo Soft colored pencils that I had spent many moments admiring but just couldn’t bring myself to use. They were so gorgeous, these two sets of pencils, I didn’t want to ruin them by putting them to use when I knew I didn’t have the skill set I felt they deserved. So they just sat there, unused in all their colorful glory. After looking at them once more I decided that I needed to break out of my comfort zone, bite the bullet and just let myself learn again. I didn’t want to use the fancy pencils just yet, so I bought a couple cheaper brands to get started.
Since I didn’t know exactly where to begin, I started small. I picked out a few pieces of paper and practiced different levels of pressure and shading. Once I had gotten a feel for the way these pencils laid down color, I moved on to coloring a simple design. I had finally broken through that initial barrier of intimidation and uncertainty and just went for it.
Once I started, it became easier to choose the pencils instead of markers, and after I got familiar with the pencils, I decided to take it to the next level and challenge myself to learn some new techniques. I read many how-to articles, several of which are featured right here in the issues of Color On! magazine, and I watched many tutorial videos on YouTube. There is no end to the amount of ways you can challenge yourself just by searching out new techniques. I even found some new ideas to use with my markers. Sweet!
Coloring Group Challenges – Say What?
Self challenges are wonderful for practicing new techniques and improving your skill level. By encouraging yourself to try new things, you help keep the coloring hobby fresh and exciting. Once I developed a decent set of coloring skills, I wanted to see what other fun coloring activities I could get myself into, and that’s when I discovered that several of the coloring themed Facebook groups I belong to feature weekly or monthly coloring challenges. Wait, what? This is awesome!
Facebook coloring groups are bustling hubs of social interaction revolving around the shared joy of coloring. You meet like-minded people who share your delight in this hobby, and you get exposed to new ideas, new artists, and awesome challenges!
Usually, each coloring group challenge has a set time (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), a new theme, and specific rules. The object of the challenge is to color a new page, staying within the given rules, and post your finished work in the designated challenge thread. There are so many different possibilities ranging from a simple “color a picture of an animal” challenge to more elaborate ones like “use three different coloring techniques on one page”. My favorite coloring challenges are the wacky ones that have fun twists like “color this picture of a Christmas tree but you can only use neon colors” or “use only shades of pink”. It gets pretty hilarious when you start seeing everyone’s interpretations!
Coloring group challenges are a fun way to give yourself goals and try new ideas right alongside others who are in the same boat as you. You don’t have to have any certain skill level to participate, and it’s fun to have specific guidelines and see the finished product at the end of each week or month. Everyone has different perspectives when it comes to themed challenges, so you almost always get exposed to new coloring styles and techniques.
I have actually had so much fun participating in coloring challenges in Facebook groups that I now host weekly challenges in both Coloring Books for Adults, which is the hugely successful companion group for Color On! magazine, and her sister group ColoUring for Weirdos which is a slightly smaller, more eccentric style coloring group. Both groups are amazing, and I encourage you to check them out if you are seeking to further explore the world of adult coloring and to connect with others who are just as excited about this hobby as you are.
Contests – the Ultimate Challenge
Weekly challenges featured in Facebook groups are a fun, laid back way to expand your coloring skills, get new ideas, and push yourself to try something new. Most of the challenges pick a winner randomly, and that person will often get to pick out the theme for an upcoming challenge. Pretty casual.
If you have a competitive bone in your body and are looking for the ultimate challenge, you can find Facebook groups that feature actual contests. These events usually attract the more advanced colorists, but any skill level can participate. Contests are usually won by accumulating the most “likes” within a certain time frame and can involve a lot of recruiting of your friends to boost your tally. It can be a little time consuming but many contests offer cool prizes such as coloring supplies or coloring books. I have seen some contests that featured a grand prize of a whole bundle of coloring goodies. Depending on how competitive you are, and how much time you want to invest, coloring contests can be very rewarding. Plus, it’s always fun to win stuff!
So, If you are looking for a meatier challenge, try entering some coloring contests. Many Facebook coloring groups offer contests quite often, and artists like to host contests when releasing a new book to generate interest and exposure to their latest project.
The Gist of it All – What We Learned
Adult coloring, as with any hobby, can eventually reach a plateau. If you love what you’re doing and want to keep it exciting, challenge yourself. Challenge your friends too! Invite your friends to try new things and explore their creativity. As long as you keep yourself open to new ideas and encourage yourself to reach outside your comfort zone, the hobby of adult coloring will stay fun and fulfilling for many years to come. Be brave and happy coloring