The Finishing Line: Coloring at your own pace

The Finishing Line: Coloring at your own pace

“Hello, my name is Dixie, and I am a slow colorist. And that’s OK. I color for relaxation. I color to enhance my creativity. I color because it is fun.”

A member of one of the Facebook coloring groups I belong to recently shared her concern about her frustration of not being able to finish pictures quickly. Because some colorists seem to produce and post finished pieces frequently, she felt that this made it feel like a race. She was feeling peer pressure.

This forthcoming post created a spirited discussion. I found this discussion to be open and honest. Many people weighed in. Their responses covered a great deal of ground. Here are some of the main topics discussed.

Relaxation Therapy: Stress Relief

Relaxation and stress relief is probably at the top of the list as to why people took up adult coloring in the first place. Relaxation and therapy were mentioned several times. Many of us lead whirlwind lives full of activity and time crunches. The first book I bought when getting into adult coloring was The Calm Coloring Book. The key word here is Calm. Should I worry about how fast I can complete a picture when I’m doing it for relaxation? That seems contradictory to me. Yet, for others, coloring quickly to get to the end result can actually relieve stress, especially for those who enjoy the satisfaction of finishing the piece.

Some folks raised concerns about chronic health issues, such as severe arthritis or painful fibromyalgia, which limit the ability to finish a piece quickly. For these folks, fast paced coloring is out. Posting often might not be possible. It seemed most who addressed these concerns weren’t worried about speed anyway.

While some prefer to move quickly through their coloring pages, others just prefer the slower pace. As one person emphatically stated, “Some don’t want the frantic pace. (We get) enough of that in real life!”

Time management/commitments

Each of us has different demands on our time. Are you retired with the flexibility to color when you choose? A busy working parent who can only color after the kids are in bed? Only have your lunch break to sneak in some coloring time? We all live by different clocks. Some run fast, others, more slowly. There’s a real difference. And it’s all perfectly fine. We’re all still enjoying the hobby.

Maybe it just comes down to one’s mood from day to day. One colorist said she just leaves it up to how she feels about the particular image she is working on. “Some days I color faster than others. It depends. If I color a pic I really like, then I sometimes will blast through it quickly.”

Planning and preparation

Some of us enjoy taking the time to browse through several coloring books or PDF files of coloring pages to find the picture that strikes our current mood. Others might spend time carefully selecting a color palette or deciding on whether to use colored pencils, gel pens, markers or mixed media. And sometimes, when we finally make these decisions, we find we don’t like how a piece is turning out, so we start all over again!

This careful preparation may slow us way down so it takes much longer to really get to work. For some of us, preparation and planning is half the fun, and the speed at which we get to the finish line isn’t all that important.

Attention to technique, tools, and media

Some colorists love learning different techniques, such as shading and blending, and enjoy taking the time to become skilled at using those techniques. These folks enjoy detailed work and attention to detail takes time. Others just want to color. We shouldn’t feel we have to compare ways we choose to create. What works for me may not work for you. Of course, that can be said for any creative pursuit we might choose to undertake.

Other hobbies

A couple of colorists mentioned other hobbies they enjoy, such as knitting or crocheting. Some put these aside to spend more time on coloring, but others like to keep several going simultaneously. A coloring might take weeks to complete while you’re devoting time to other enjoyable projects. As one member put it, “I don’t color everyday because I have other hobbies. (Coloring) is only one of many ways one chooses to be creative.” Win-Win!

Process vs. Product

Some colorists find the whole process, from selection of images, colors, and mediums to application of techniques, to be more enjoyable than the end result. Others enjoy ramping it up to get to the finished product. If you’re a “ramper-upper” and enjoy posting your completed works, it might seem like you’re in a race when really, you’re just doing it “your way.”

One colorist stated that it simply comes down to how she feels about her work on any given day. “Some days I color faster than others. It depends. If I color a pic I really like, then I sometimes will blast through it quickly.”

Another colorist goes by the KIS method; she likes to just “keep it simple!”

Competition and Contests

While competing is fun for some, it’s stressful for others. As one colorist stated, “I color for me, not to enter contests. Feeling like it’s a contest and that you’re inadequate because you are slow and don’t put out “masterpieces” like others totally negates the relaxing/calming aspect of coloring.”

Another commented, “It’s not a contest. All that matters is what I think of the finished product.”

The beauty of this is that we have choices. To enter or not to enter a coloring contest is an individual choice. Just like in sports, some thrive on the contest; others just want to play for intramural fun.

Some colorists are energized by the contests posted on various sites. They keep track of them all, enter before the deadline, and hope that the amount of likes posted under their pieces will put them on top to win the prize. Of course, that calls for speedy coloring and frequent output. There’s nothing wrong with that. If it’s enjoyable, go for it!

On the flip side, as one honest colorist admitted, “(It) drives some people crazy trying to keep up with all the challenges and contests. It’s not for everyone. It’s OK if you don’t want to do it!”

To share or not to share

Many of us enjoy seeing other colorists’ completed works. I get so many ideas from studying their coloring’s:  interesting color palettes, fascinating techniques, enhancements made to original designs, etc. Some folks in our discussion said that they only share if they are particularly happy with a page, not so much for the “glory” or compliments. Those that share frequently may be sharing for a variety of different reasons: sharing of techniques; showing the work of a favorite artist; seeking advice on improvements in technique; or just sharing a coloring with which they are particularly pleased.

It may appear that those who share frequently are coloring 24/7, but this might not be the case at all. Some accumulate a number of finished pieces and then decide to share them one right after the other. Others really are fast colorists, and they just enjoy sharing their completed pieces with other colorists. There is no “right way” to share. You don’t even have to share at all. Just respect those who do share and enjoy their work!

It’s all good!

Whether we choose to color fast or slow depends on so many factors. The speed at which we go about laying down color really shouldn’t be an issue at all. Just the enjoyment of coloring is really what it’s all about.

So, let’s try not to worry about whether we are coloring quickly or in a more deliberate manner. As one wise colorist put it so succinctly “…. it doesn’t matter how quickly we produce our work, it just matters that we do!”



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